Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

30 Days of Books: Day 05 – A book that makes you happy

This may be the easiest day of the 30 day book meme for me.  As soon as I saw this prompt, I knew exactly which book I wanted to write about.

glory_road Glory Road is Robert Heinlein’s one true foray into the fantasy genre, and he pulls it off admirably in a fun Swashbuckling-Musketeers meets Young-Galahad meets Hero-for-Hire plot in a whimsical and humorous set of worlds (yes, that’s meant to be plural) of Heinlein’s creation.

Oscar Gordon (as the protagonist is soon nicknamed) is a veteran of the unWar in Vietnam, and suffers from a bureaucratic Catch-22 of the unWar – namely, he is ineligible to have his much-deserved university education paid for by the G.I. Bill.  In a fit of desperation, he answers an intriguing advertisement he discovers in the Personals section of a newspaper:

ARE YOU A COWARD? This is not for you.  We badly need a brave man […] proficient with all weapons, some knowledge of engineering and mathematics essential, willing to travel, no family or emotional ties, indomitably courageous and handsome of face and figure.  Permanent employment, very high pay, glorious adventure, great danger.

(What young man HASN’T daydreamed about answering just such an advertisement at one time or another?)

Along with a beautiful woman (nicknamed Star) and sarcastic but trusty sidekick Rufo, our hapless hero fumbles his way through dangerous foes and hazardous obstacles on the way to retrieve the Egg of the Phoenix from the labyrinthine Dark Tower where it is guarded by the dreaded Soul Eater.

Yes, the above plot sounds like standard fantasy-fare, but you don’t need a completely original plot to develop a fun story.  Especially when Heinlein puts his own special twist on the fantasy genre and does more than just permit the Hero to achieve his quest and win the girl – he explores what happens to the Hero after the quest is over and done, and the Glory Road has dead-ended with no further goal in sight.

As he does in most of his works, Heinlein also works in quite a bit of commentary about society, cultural morals, sexuality, government, and the quality of life.  Many of the more critical reviews of the book harp unceasingly on his heavy-handed references to free sexual societies and the implication that the monogamous norms of present-day humanity are outmoded and unjustified.  While I too find his arguments hard to accept at face value, they in no way caused me to devalue the fun I had every time I joined Oscar, Star, and Rufo on their foray along the Glory Road. (After all, sometimes a good debate won’t change your mind, but it will make you think, and become more confident in the reasoning behind your own opinion.)

This book exudes some special sort of aura that makes me happy when I pick it up – I can’t explain it but I certainly can recognize it, and that is why this is the perfect book for me to write about in today’s book prompt.

30 Days of Books: Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times

I’ve been stymied on Day 2 of this book meme, but unlike Steve and Bookmole, it doesn’t have to do with only having a few books that meet this criteria; on the contrary, I have so many books that meet the criteria of having been read more than three times that it was hard to decide on just one to post about!

To me, some books are the equivalent of comfort food, but for the mind & soul.  When I’m feeling sick, or down, or just out of sorts, often picking up a book that I have read many times before will be enough to kick me out of my blues.  I have a couple shelves of go-to authors & books that I have no problem reading once every year or two – sometimes my difficulty is in limiting the re-reads so I can get on to some new books that I haven’t yet absorbed.

With that said, my choice for today’s post is one I “bought” from the library* – Convergent Series by Larry Niven.

This book is a collection of Niven’s short stories – about half are previously published stories from various magazines of the ’60s and ’70s and the others were apparently written specifically for this collection.  Although Niven is best known for his science fiction, about half of these stories are merely Niven’s take on environmental concerns, war, death, and society, frosted with a light scifi/fantasy coating of an exotic setting or set of circumstances.

As the title might imply, there are also quite a few that touch tangentially on Niven’s love for mathematics (he majored in Math in college, and even pursued some graduate work in the field before becoming a prize-winning author.)  The title story, “Convergent Series” combines math and demon summoning in an entertaining and humorous tale that stuck with me ever since I first read it.

Some of the stories, though, are much more poignant and even disturbing.  “Wrong-Way Street”, “Cautionary Tales”, and “Dry Run” all touch on the fleetingness of life and caused me to pause and reflect on my own actions and the merits of how I’m spending my days.  And “The Deadlier Weapon”, involving interplay between an automobile driver and the hitchhiker who threatens him, definitely got me thinking.

All in all, this book is a nice collection of shorter, somewhat-fluffier pieces that nourish without too much challenge.  I find myself coming back to it not because it is my favorite book, but because it’s so easy to pick up and put down, as needed, and rejoin the characters and plots of some stories I first read as a teenager.  Most people probably won’t want to read it more than once, but then again, as I’ve seen, most people probably don’t read ANY books as many times as I tend to do.

*I had checked out my copy of this book from the library, and somehow lost it.  I paid the lost book fee for the book, only to find it a couple years later after a move.  The library didn’t want it back by that point, so it became mine.  I don’t advocate acquiring books this way though – it’s not nice to the other patrons who would want to read it!

It truly is unbelievable.  Somehow, against almost all odds, I won this week and made it into the semifinals in my league's playoffs.  I think it has to do with the fact that my opponents two running backs got a combined 2 points, and 4 of his players together only earned a total of 5 points.  Let's hear it for Detroit double-teaming TO all night, and the 49ers holding Amazing Adrian down to 3 rush yards!

I have to decide this week – I can either play San Diego's defense vs. Detroit, or Indianapolis vs. Oakland…what do you think?

And here's my playoff ladder…I've got two tough games in front of me, but I'm still holding out hope that the win could happen.  We'll see, we'll see.

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I lost this week, and I don't care.

Mmmm…let me rephrase that.  I lost this week, and it doesn't matter because I clinched the last spot in the playoffs with my 6-7 record, so it doesn't matter any more what my record was.  It was a dismal week for my players, between the rain that dumped on Palmer, Johnson, and Graham, to the touchdown pass that Kellen Winslow caught that was ruled out of bounds (without a force-out!)

But that doesn't matter…I'm in the playoffs, so we start fresh.  Yes, I'm in 6th place, so it's unlikely that I'll make it to the finals…but it could happen!  Keep your fingers crossed!

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It was a crazy week for me this week, in part because I rushed to get my lineup situated before the games started on Thursday, and missed out on using Barber on the one week he could have scored 20+ points for me.  By Sunday evening, all of my players' points had been tallied (totaling 135 for the week), and I could only watch in dread as my opponent slowly crept up the scoreboard every time Tom Brady threw another complete pass.  At the end of the first half of the New England / Philadelphia game, I thought it was over for sure — all Brady needed to do in order to force a loss for me was to toss out another 100 yards and a touchdown.  Yet time and again in the second half, New England got close to the end zone only to run the ball in, or otherwise turn it over without a pass TD.

I watched the last few minutes of the game anxiously, my opponent 1 point behind a tie for the week.  I know the Pats were trying to run the ball to run out the clock.  But would Brady throw that one extra pass to try to get a first down and ensure the Patriots retained possession for the rest of the game?  In the end, the answer was no; they kicked the ball, and regardless of Feeley's pick at the very end of the game, I was a winner for this week, 135-134.  It took me until well after midnight to settle down from the nail-biting jitters, as it just doesn't get any closer than that, in fantasy competition.

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Just like in the movies, I pulled off a surprise win against the Warden.  And it was a total surprise, since I missed watching pretty much any of my players play this week.


I did check in Sunday night and saw that I was behind in the points, 115-119.  We both had one player left – I my tight end (Dallas Clark) for the Colts, him his wide receiver (Marvin Harrison) for the Colts.  By all rights, he should have got more points than me from this last game, but Manning tends to throw to his tight end and it appears that in the game vs. the Jaguars last night, it was all Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark for the key passes.

So suddenly I've won 3 in a row, have a record of 4-3, and am in 4th out of 10 place in the league.  Everything's coming up Milhouse!

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No, not getting even as in revenge – getting even as in my record – I won for the second straight week, so I'm now 3-3.  Hooray!


Not much to say this week – it seemed the network programming overlords were conspiring against me to bring me only televised games where I had no players playing.  Sure, it was nice seeing Testaverde kick some butt for the Panthers (wow, my home team has Kasay at age 37 and Testaverde at age 43….it's like they're trying to teach those youngins' a thing or two!) but I would have enjoyed watching Edwards catch all three of his touchdown passes a little bit more.  Or cheer as Carson Palmer threw for 300+ yards and 2 touchdowns, and groaned as he intercepted twice and fumbled once.  But so it goes.

Next week looks to be tough – I'm playing "The Warden", who's on a winning streak lately, but more importantly, will be using Brady against a sad Miami defense.  Here's hoping I survive the onslaught…

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You almost have to feel sorry for my opponent this week.  He played powerhouse RB Larry Johnson, who ended up netting him all of 1 point, while on his bench sat Najeh Davenport, who would have brought him 20 points.  Romo ended up turning things around for the Cowboys' win, but I'm sure my opponent was dreaming about what might have been, if Romo had NOT had 5 interceptions and a fumble!

Anyway, I said you almost have to feel sorry, but you don't actually have to.  His record drops to 3-2, but that's still ahead of my 2-3 record so far this season.


This was the week for come-from-behind points for me.  My QB started off the game with an interception and a fumble, but managed to come back to throw 294 yards to give me at least a few points.  Edwards continues to meet and surpass any expectations I set for him, making him my definite #1 receiver.  Facing a couple of injured WR, I picked up Bowe when it was announced he'd start as #2 receiver for Kansas City.  Even though he ended up getting me a fair amount of points, most of it came in the last quarter when he caught a couple long passes for some decent yardage. (In fact, I wasn't even sure he was playing until the 3rd quarter, when he caught his first pass of the game!)

San Diego defense FINALLY got their butt in gear, with an interception and a pair of fumble recoveries (one of which was run back for a touchdown).  I'm hoping they can keep up the pace next week against Oakland…I think I'm going to need the points.

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This week was a nailbiter for my fantasy football team, but I ended up losing…again.  Coming into last night's game, I was down by 4 points and expected to quickly make up my deficit, since I had both Carson Palmer AND Chad Johnson, and all my opponent had left was T.J. Houshmandzadeh.  What I wasn't expecting, though, was for my QB to throw the bulk of his passes T.J.'s way, getting in an argument with Johnson just before half-time, and giving Johnson a total of about 2 looks in the second half.  The icing on the cake was Palmer throwing one last pass to T.J. to put him at 100 yards for the game, and then giving the ball up to the New England defense as if to say, "I give up.  Sorry Ross, you got screwed again!"

Not that I'm bitter or anything.


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Not much to say about my team this week except that no matter who I had chosen to play off my roster, there's no way I could have beat my opponent's final score.  Part of that is due to my players having some poor performances (yes, I'm looking at you San Diego defense, and you Mr. Hines Ward, who caught a total of 2 yards worth of passes prior to getting injured in the 3rd quarter).  But part is just my opponent having a good week with his team.  Thems the breaks, and hopefully my draft choices pan out in the weeks to come.

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