Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Monday, July 29th, 2019

What I’m reading: July 2019

by Warren

I haven’t posted here for a long time for a bunch of reasons, including being busy at work, not having much to say, and blathering on social media. But I’m going to try to get back into it, mostly with random thoughts on goings-on and updates on pop culture. The Current Situation is draining enough via breaking news and the latest outrage without me adding my two cents (note: I may do so anyway from time to time).

I mentioned social media…in the last few years it’s gone from a fun place to dash off nonsense to a fevered swamp of villainy, both in terms of users and the companies running said platforms. So while I’ll still dash off the odd jape and I continue to feed Bookshelf Doctors comics to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram just for the hell of it, there’s something to be said for longer-form stuff on a site I actually own and control.

With that, here’s a list of the stuff I’m reading right now. Gripping!

The Outside: Canadian computer scientist and author Ada Hoffman’s story of an autistic scientist in the far future who gets thrust into a crisis involving AI gods and android angels, a possibly insane mentor and definitely unbalanced ancient horrors that defy physics. Good times!

Helter Skelter: Just saw Once Upon a Time In Hollywood and Tarantino’s usual shoddy disregard for history made me decide to pick up Bugliosi’s tome about the Manson Murders. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also reading his Four Days in November, an excellent chronicle of how the Kennedy assassination unfolding by the minute.

Dungeons and Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History: A sumptuous and from what I can tell comprehensive overview of the art created for and inspired by the popular RPG, along with reams of behind the scenes history and lore. I’ve been playing the game for the last year or so and it’s a really fun way to not only relax but also create worlds of your own with immediate feedback.

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Another book update!

by Warren

I’ve been plowing through more books of late, scattered across various genres. I’ve made a point of not only bathing in scifi but dipping into different genres that up until now I haven’t tried. My method is simple: when an author of note is mentioned offhand in a podcast as someone worth checking out, I make a point of seeking out a sample of their work. This month, the author in question is Raymond Chandler, and the book is “The Big Sleep.”


Monday, May 5th, 2014

Book update!

by Warren

About a year ago, I and my compatriots at Radio Free Skaro were guests at Westercon 66, a science fiction convention held in Sacramento. Westercon and a variety of other “pure” scifi cons tend to skew a little older and more towards things literary rather than out-and-out fandom. That’s obviously not a hard and fast rule, given that I was down there as part of a fan podcast focused on Doctor Who, but it is a noticeable difference from events like Gallifrey or San Diego Comic Con.

The upside of the literary bent of Westercon was that the dealer’s room was filled with books, many of them astonishingly cheap. I bought something like thirty paperbacks for around thirty dollars, and I was able to grab many of the sci-fi and fantasy books (classic and otherwise) that I’d missed as a youth.


Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Writing, fan fiction and getting over oneself

by Warren

I’ve made fun of fan fiction writers for a long time. Mostly this was due to the more extreme behaviours and subject matter tackled at the edge of the hobby, but I realize now it might have been a defense mechanism on my part as well. 

Even though I get paid to write non-fiction for a living, I’ve spent a good long time avoiding writing anything fictional, at least in prose form. If I think about why that is, it probably boils down to fear. I’ve written a few screenplays for short films, but prose is an entirely different beast, and  think subconsciously I always regarded fiction writing as the pinnacle, the place i probably wasn’t good enough to even attempt. 

The only way to break that cycle is to actually write some fiction, and the easiest entry into that milieu is through fan fiction. Knowing full well I’d probably get called a hypocrite, I pressed on regardless, and put together a little tale involving the Fourth Doctor, Y2K, and homicidal computers. 

I published the story, Metal’s Eve, on Archive of Our Own, the leading fan fiction repository. Much to my surprise, nobody has looked askance or raised an eyebrow at me. Instead, just under 200 people (so far) have read the story and I’ve received two “kudos,” which is basically the equivalent of a Facebook like or a favourite button. 

In fact writing this fanfic has been enormously encouraging, and I’ve been writing original stories and submitting them to various anthologies, as well as trying my hand at comic book scripting. I’m still interested in filmmaking, but the older I get, the less appealing it is to tackle every single aspect of the production process. Comics, by contrast, only need a writer, a penciller, an inker, a letterer and maybe a colourist. Prose only requires the writer, and that’s probably the direction I’m going in as time goes on.

As stories get rejected or accepted, I’ll post links to them here. Watch this space!

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Gear fatigue

by Warren

I’ve always been fascinated with the newest and shiniest filmmaking equipment. Even back in the 90s, when I was taking Broadcast Production at NAIT, I avidly followed the “cheap” 16mm cameras that were just coming onto the market and servicing indie auteurs.

Time passes, technology advances, and now practically anyone can make a film. DSLRs don’t look like film, really, but they look close enough that they’ve become an acceptable alternative. Almost any computer can cut together video in a professional manner. I’ve even made a few short films myself.

But one thing that hasn’t changed in the 20-odd years I’ve been noodling about with film gear is the endless “if only” factor of the latest tech. You can get a DSLR, and make serviceable images, but if only you had a C300. Or an FS100. Or an Alexxa. Or the Holy Grail of film dilettantes everywhere, the RED camera. If only your computer was that much faster, that graphics card that much more powerful, your RAM maxed out to…well, you get the idea.

All well and good, and I wish nothing but luck with those who use these tools. But after all this time I’m starting to get tired of keeping up with it all. I’m starting to think it would make more sense not only to use what I’ve got…but also take a step back from the whole process.

I’ll still write scripts for short films, but given the incredibly thin odds of getting a feature made or financed, I’m starting to look at other forms of (fictional) writing. Like books, short stories, comic books and audio plays. None of these hold any more promise of success than film, but they do promise more tangible results.

And at the end of the day, success (or the lack thereof) can be just another way to avoid doing what needs doing. What needs doing is writing, creating, experimenting. Not fantasizing about the next best thing. If there’s one thing Radio Free Skaro has taught me, it’s that just plugging away at something for the love of the process means more, and yields more tangible results, than any shiny new toy ever could.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The Tiger: Author Video

by Warren

Recently I was contacted by StudioNow to create an author video for Random House about “The Tiger,” a new book by Vancouver author John Vaillant. It’s an interesting story about a poacher, a Russian game warden/badass and a very smart, very deadly tiger, and the violent maelstrom all three find themselves in while pursuing their own goals. Check out the video below.

Monday, June 28th, 2010

iBooks and Canada aren’t getting along

by Warren

iPhone 4 hasn’t even arrived in Canada yet, but for some reason (likely because the OS isn’t all that country-specific) Apple is allowing Canadians to download iBooks, the Apple branded e-reader currently found on the iPad and on U.S. iPhones.

And as of right now, it’s a complete disaster.

At first iBooks couldn’t even reach the iBookstore. Starting the app resulted in futile warnings, but searching revealed you could find public domain works from Project Gutenberg for download. All well and good, because who DOESN’T want to read Wuthering Heights on their phone….except that your iBookshelf iEats all your iBooks. Keep downloading them, and they’ll simply disappear. SOme people have had luck syncing their books through iTunes, but I haven’t.

More to the point, I’m chompng at the bit to actually BUY some books, but Apple won’t let me. I suspect whenever the phone is introduced in Canada (presumably at the end of July) the store will be populated with bestsellers and other goodies, and it may not even be Apple’s fault. Canadian publishers, like most of the old print guard, aren’t exactly know for forward thinking and bold new strategies.

In other news, getting rid of custom wallpapers dramatically speeds up the performance of my jailbroken iPhone 3G. Weirdly, having a nice bit of background on my home screen seems much more challenging than multitasking several programs at once. Who’da thunk it?


Sunday, April 25th, 2010

New Yorker examines the iPad and publishing

by Warren

The New Yorker has a great article about how the iPad my exact some serious change on the publishing industry, not exactly known for their future embracing tendencies.

I think that while e-books via the iPad will at first be regarded as a novelty, given time the tablet/pad form factor will become a competitive if not dominant medium for the book and variations thereof that couldn’t be accomplished without digitization. And just like music and television, publishers will fight the future as long as they can, only to be taken out of the loop completely. The internet eliminates the middleman, and I can see a time when authors sell directly to their readers in a million different niches, simultaneously destroying bookstores but making our culture much richer.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

E-books gain traction on smartphones

by Warren

Despite the perennial cries of “people don’t want to read books on their phones,” that’s precisely what’s happening according to an article in the New York Times. Everyone has their smartphone with them at all times, making it easy to read on the go and tote a library of titles in your pocket. I’ve read at least 3 or 4 books on my iPhone, and plan to keep doing so until Apple comes out with something better, like their mythical tablet device.

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Why e-books might finally emerge

by Warren

E-books are a medium that, like picture phones, always seems to be right over the horizon but never actually comes to pass. In fact, an excellent article at Ars Technica recently detailed just how backward and resistant to change the publishing industry is, and the struggles pioneering e-book companies have had to go through to get both publishers and the public to accept paperless literature. But a number of factors (including, not surprisingly, the iPhone, but also the impending launch of a new Kindle reader from Amazon) are trending towards the e-book finally emerging as a viable reading platform.