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Month: November 2013

Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi

I bought this book from Audible and listened to it using the Audible app on my iPhone.

So this is the last Paolo Bacigalupi book I will be reading/listening to for a long while. I liked Windup Girl but everything else has not excited me, and this book is no exception.

If you have read Windup Girl you have already read one of the best stories in this book, go read Windup Girl instead of this one.

From the publisher:

Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut collection demonstrates the power and reach of the science-fiction short story. Social criticism, political parable, and environmental advocacy lie at the center of Paolo’s work. Each of the stories herein is at once a warning and a celebration of the tragic comedy of the human experience.

The 11 stories in Pump Six represent the best of Paolo’s work, including the Hugo nominee "Yellow Card Man", the Nebula-and Hugo-nominated story "The People of Sand and Slag", and the Sturgeon Award-winning story "The Calorie Man". The title story is original to this collection.

With this book, Paolo Bacigalupi takes his place alongside SF short-fiction masters Ted Chiang, Kelly Link and others, as an important young writer that directly and unabashedly tackles today’s most important issues.

©2010 Paolo Bacigalupi (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

I rate this book a 5 out of 10 and only recommend it to Bacigalupi fans.


Dutch by Teri Woods

Dutch Audiobook
I bought this audiobook on a sale at Audible and listened to it using the Audible app on my iPhone.

Dutch is an angry story about an angry young black man from an angry place. Not being an angry young black man myself this book misses the mark for me. It does not speak to me and was not meant to.

This is not a mainstream story targeted at a widespread audience, but is targeted squarely at an urban teen African American audience, whether that was the author’s intention or not. As a movie it would probably have wider appeal.

It is well written and if you like stories about angry young black men getting over on the system at the cost of other people’s lives, usually the lives of other young black men, then you will enjoy this story.

The performance by Ezra Knight is very good, I hope to hear more from him.

From the publisher:

Teri Woods has built a considerable literary legacy thanks to her compelling urban novels. The first volume of a trilogy, Dutch follows the criminal career of street hood James Bernard Jr., a.k.a. Dutch.

Even while stealing cars, Dutch knew he was destined for more, and it wasn’t long before he saw his chance to seize power in New Jersey. Now a Jersey kingpin, Dutch is coming under fire from an upstart DA—but it won’t be easy to take down this streetwise criminal.

&copy2003, 2009 Teri Woods (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

My rating is a 5 out of 10 and think African American teens would rate it much higher.


Call of Duty: Black Ops by Activision

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cover ArtI bought this game from Steam and played it in Windows 8 on a MacBook Pro.

I love me some Call of Duty. Most of the games in this franchise have been very good even if a little bit mindless. Solid shoot-em-up entertainment. I am sorry to say that Black Ops does not rise up to that level, in fact it falls WAY short.

I finished the entire game in 7 hours and feel very ripped off.

COD has always been a "rails" driven game, meaning that you cannot wander about freely but must follow a prescribed path to complete each mission, but in Black Ops that rail is ridiculously thin allowing no thought and very little tactics by the player. Most missions have to be completed in very specific ways. That gets old very fast.

I should have read the reviews on Amazon before buying this game, and you can bet before I buy another COD title I will be reading those reviews closely. I think the only reason it currently has 2.5 stars at Amazon is because someone paid for positive reviews at some point.

From the publisher:

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a first-person shooter with stealth and tactical play aspect that puts players in the role of a shadow soldier fighting in a variety of historically representative fictional Black Ops missions of the Cold War era. Created with the input of actual Black Ops soldiers from the time, the game mixes traditional Call of Duty tactical shooter gameplay with new gameplay options designed to expand the players’ experience. Additional features include extensive multiplayer options, along with new vehicles and explosive new weapons.

I rate this game a 1 out of 10 and do not recommend it. If you can pick it up for $5.00 and are a fan of the COD series then give it a try.


Tomb Raider: Survival Edition by Square Enix

Tomb Raider Cover ArtI bought this game on sale at Steam and played it in Windows 8 on a MacBook Pro.

I remember first finding the PC video game Tomb Raider in 1996, I was hanging out with a friend and I had just download the demo and was eager to give it a try.

We were immediately mesmerized, at the time most games were based on comical over-the-top characters doing wildly fantastical things that no human could ever do, except jump or climb. But here was a game with a female lead with a realistic name that could not only jump and climb but she could jump high in the air and draw a pair of pistols and start firing at the same time. Wow, that was amazing.

Tomb Raider is now “quot;old hat”quot; we have had many games based upon the character, some were good and some were absolutely awful. I have only played 2 or 3 all of the way through, but I have always like the mechanics of the game.

This new Tomb Raider is one of the better ones.

Laura is young and just starting out, the game is supposed to show a progression of her life from college student to hardened survivor and tomb raider. But for me the transition is so fast that I missed it, the character goes from being timid to using a bow to kill bad guys in the blink of an eye. So the story is a bit flawed, but the game play is pretty good.

There are a LOT of cut-scenes in the game and a lot of times that you cannot look where you want to look, the game takes over and will only let you view a very limited area. Also there were many times that I felt like she was on a rail that I could not escape from, that really killed the overall feeling of freedom that most of the game had. That frustrated me, but it did not ruin the game.

It took me about 21 hours to complete the game with a 90% complete score which I am very proud of.

After finishing the game, I played multi-player for about an hour, getting a game going was frustrating with very little feedback on what was going on, how may participants were required for each type of game, nothing at all to tell me which game types people were playing, really just a mess in trying to find a group to play.

After awhile I finally got into a match of “quot;Rescue”quot; with a group of around 8 players, and it was ok, but not great. And again, much of the interface was really confusing. There were multiple people asking how to do certain actions because it is far from obvious how to do them.

Overall, I feel like I got my money out of the game and I may even go back and play it a little more at some point.

From the publisher:

Tomb Raider explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a young woman to a hardened survivor. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold.

I rate this game an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to fans of Lara and first-person shooters.