New In – Unboxing

WARNING: Self-indulgent post ahead!

Shit. I haven’t been this excited about a book since 2010, when I got the news about the publication of CryoBurn. I’ve marked the 20th of January in my calendar to make sure I don’t forget to order Burned (Fever 7). I’ve reread Fever 1-5 recently, however Iced is a bit blurry so… what the hell, it’s only 5 pounds. I knew Real Books 2015 were going to cost me.

Thoughts on the  Fever Series can be seen here, here and here.

I’m currently reading The Earthsea Quartet and it’s going to take me a while before I get back to the Fever Series. But I cannot curb my enthusiasm so I’m gonna do what I’ve seen done on fashion, beauty and tech blogs.

I don’t think buying any thing can be as exciting as buying a new book. It doesn’t wear off. It’s not like a dress which becomes old after you’ve worn it a few times. It’s not a smartphone which is new and exciting for approximately three minutes. A book is the ultimate shopping thrill and, as such, deserves a New In/Unboxing post more than any other product.

I’m not unpacking a product here. I’m unpacking an entire world, a world of monsters and those who fight them. Hey, it’s Jericho Barrons I’m unpacking here! After four long years, Jericho is baaaack!!! How fucking awesome is that??? Yay!

The box itself was unimpressive and I must say that it’s general shabbiness was slightly alarming at first. It was, however, easy to open, which made the process a bit anticlimactic.

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Book extraction went smoothly, and as you can see below upon extraction I was assailed by the abundance of faceless male torsos with lame tattoos . While this is a problem with the paperback, it is less daunting with the hardcover.

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Hardcovers are difficult to carry around and are more pricey,  the before and after photos clearly show the benefits. The torso can be easily discarded, making the book appropriate for public reading.

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Moby Dick, In Space

The Martian has been compared to Robinson Crusoe. It has been compared to Cast Away and Apollo 13. Financial Times claims that “Gravity meets Robinson Crusoe” in The Martian. I think The Martian is more like Moby Dick – the Red Planet plays Captain Ahab, while our hero Mark Watney is the white whale.

In most of the book, Mark tells us his story of survival, in excruciating technical detail. This struck me Moby Dickesque. Bouts of sarcastic optimism emerge every now and then, amidst all Mark’s resourcefulness – reminiscent of humorous bouts amidst whale-o-phillia in Moby Dick.

Every twenty hours, I’ll have 10 litres of CO2, thanks to the MAV fuel plant. I’ll vent it into Hab via the highly scientific method of detaching the tank from the MAV landing struts, bringing it into the Hab, then opening the valve until it’s empty.
The oxygenator will turn it into oxygen in its own time. Then, I’ll release hydrazine, very slowly, over the iridium catalyst, to turn it into N2 and H2. I’ll direct the hydrogen to a small area and burn it. As you can see, this plan provides many opportunities for me to die in a fiery explosion.

I’m not crazy about comparisons, but if comparisons need be made, why make the most obvious one? The one that tells absolutely nothing about the book? “Robinson Crusoe on Mars, 21st century style.” Please!

In a way, Mark Watney is more like Deadpool then like Robinson:

Yes, of course duct tape works in near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.

deadpool duct tapeI have to “steal” a bit from WSJ, to quote Mr Weir (LOVE this quote):  “If you get down into the deep details, the science tells you the story,” he said.”  He spent “three years working out the details” which is very obvious in the book even to the uninformed.

Anyway, The Martian is an amazing book. It took about 10 or 20 pages for me to fall head over heels for Mark. It’s so damn easy to get invested into the importance of saving his life, that you can disregard the improbability of him surviving most of the shit he survives during the book.

Every lie has to have a kernel of truth, and the amount of scientific truth behind Andy Weir’s fiction makes The Martian feel real.

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If you read Moby Dick, I’m sure you can appreciate the amount of research and reading Melville had to do in order to write that masterpiece. Just taking out all the whale references (in the pre-Google era) must have been a monumental endeavour.

In Moby Dick, Melville’s insistence on every aspect of whaling (and more) makes the book feel eerily surreal, almost somnambulistic and a bit, well, crazy – reflecting the state of mind of our obsessed Captain. In The Martian, Andy Weir uses science to make Mark’s story feel realistic and plausible.  

But even this disparate treatment of detail brings two books closer together in a way that science serves to shake the foundation of the story – Moby Dick doesn’t feel like a book about whale hunting, and The Martian feels nothing like science fiction.

You can read the first chapter of The Martian here.

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Proof of Reality

The DUFF: The Movie

I wrote about The DUFF some months ago. I found it decent and refreshing, even tough it has flaws. The movie looks great, and I really can’t wait to see it (don’t judge me, judge for yourself).

However, it seems to me it dumbs down the book significantly, and turns it into your typical ugly duckling story. Don’t get me wrong, I love that sort of stuff, but I think it’ll be a shame if the movie deviates from the book that much.

Real Books, Friends and Benedict Cumberbatch

No birds were injured during the writing of this post.

My reading buddy criticised me for deciding to write a new-year post. Our debate is long and uninteresting to the uniformed, so I’ll just say she was right, given the circumstances of the conversation. My argument for writing this post is simple: new year resolution about which I will write will reflect on this blog.

I decided to read only “real” books during 2015 (real books being made out of paper). I’m quite reluctant to buy Cheap Thrills and Guilty Pleasures books (although I hope some of my purchases will end up as such), so I assume there’ll be less posts about erotic fiction. I could borrow such titles in my local library, but they know my name and address, so that’s not really an option for me.

Frankly, I want to kill two birds with one stone. Wait, three birds.

Bird 1: Read more “real” books;
Bird 2: Finally read some of those books I’ve already bought;
Bird 3: Read more substantial and edifying titles (and accompanying books).

I had a great start this year. Aforementioned reading buddy struggled through snow and winds to come stay at my place. We played cards, ate too much, bought real books and played a lot of Scrabble. We’ve also had a post-New-Year karaoke party which was a blast. Not to mention that on the first day of 2015 I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy Imitation Game. A truly excellent movie.

Is there a better way to start a new year with good friends, new books, a good movie and Benedict Cumberbatch? Methinks no.

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All in all, an awesome start to a, hopefully, awesome year.