Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Geek swoon

I am in total geekgasm.

Yes, those of you who know me will have guessed that Steph and I have just watched the new trailer for The Hobbit. Twice. If you fell off the planet and have just landed back, here it is:

Watched it? Okay, now go watch it again.

That's better.

I've heard a fair bit of mumbling in fandom about the fact that The Hobbit is going to be three movies now. Some people didn't even like that it was going to be two movies. (On the other hand, most of these 'fans' didn't like the Lord of the Rings movies, either, so I say ... well, I don't actually say anything to them. I'm too busy watching that trailer. Again.)

I loved the LotR movies. I can't see them enough. I even watch the extended editions, even the long version of The Return of the King with the unnecessary pirates and the camp Mouth of Sauron criticising their clothes and threatening them with a handbag (or whatever). I didn't think there were enough different endings on The Return of the King.

You couldn't extend The Hobbit enough for me. Hell, I say make it ten movies. Extended versions.

I'll watch them all.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Book Review: Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress, by Sarwat Chadda

Note: in the US, this book is just called "The Savage Fortress"

When Ashoka (Ash) Mistry and his little sister, Lucky, take their first trip to India to stay with their aunt and uncle, they soon find themselves caught up in a struggle between demons and gods from Hindu mythology.

To be honest, if I hadn't been stuck in the Accident and Emergency Department at my local hospital for three and half hours, I would probably have given up on this book fairly quickly.

There's a particular type of British middle grade fantasy where everything feels generic: generic characters, generic problems, generic settings... You get the picture. There's no emotional engagement, other than on a superficial level, and you can't help but feel that you've read it all before.

In the early chapters, Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress seems to fall into this category. Other than the actual setting, in Varanasi, India this could be dozens of other books.

Luckily (kinda), I was stuck in the hospital, unable to move, with a badly sprained ankle and nothing else to do, and so I kept going.

Which was lucky, because around page eighty, this book suddenly kicks into life, and becomes a fascinating, rich, exciting adventure, full of characters with real problems and real emotions. From that point, the book is relentless, and you won't want to put it down. (It also has probably the highest body count I've read in a middle grade novel.)

That's not to say that there are no problems with the book for an adult reader. The plot developments are predictable and everything is heavily telegraphed. But this is a book for 9-12 year olds, and they certainly won't feel the same way.

It's great to find a middle grade fantasy with non-white protagonists in non-European/American setting, especially one that is as good as this.

Once you get past the slow opening, I highly recommend this book, and I'm looking forward to any sequels.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

My eyes, my eyes!

Someone pointed me (via Twitter) to this blog post:

It is quite possible this is an interesting, fascinating article. I wouldn't know. I haven't read it. The text is absolutely tiny. Miniature. Unreadable.

Seriously, I do not want to have to squint at the screen to try and figure out what it says.

There are a lot of websites like this around, ones where the text is so small that's it's just not worth the bother of trying to read them. Most of these websites were designed in an unfortunate period in web design just before iPhones and laptops with high-density screens became popular, and when there was a fashion for tiny text.

Back then most people were still using low-resolution monitors, and the text was just about readable. Not anymore. Now, though, on most screens, this text is horrible.

Okay, I know I can zoom. I do that with some sites. But they are sites I already know and am interested in. A new link that I come across on Twitter? No. One look, and I'm out of there.

Do yourself a favour, and make sure your text is readable. Otherwise people aren't going to stick around to read whatever great wisdom you're so desperate to share.

/end of rant. Thank you.