Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Well of Lost Plots (2003)

This is the third book in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. In this book, Thursday is in the Character Exchange Programme and is in hiding in an out-of-print book replacing a character that will spend some time in the real world. She is going to stay here until her child is born. In the meantime she is studying to be a Jurisfiction agent in the Book World with the help of her mentor Miss Havisham (from Great Expectations). Her grandmother, Gran Next, pops in to make sure that she doesn't lose any memories of her husband because that would indicate an attack by the mnemonomorph Aornis, sister to Acheron Hades, who was killed by Thursday in the first book. Another threat to books everywhere is the introduction of a new program called UltraWord which is supposed to create more than the eight plot lines that all novels derive from.

Whew! That's a lot in one book. Besides all this is the introduction of all sorts of creatures like the "vyrus" which changes the spelling of words with predictably dangerous results. One of my favorite parts was an exchange about the overuse of had had and that that and how it confused the reader too much.

"Take the first had had and that that in the book by way of example," explained Lady Cavendish. "You would have thought that that first had had had had good occasion to be seen as had, had you not? Had had had approval but had had had not; equally it is true to say that that that that had had approval but that that other that that had not."
"So the problem with that other
that that was that --?
"That that other-other
that that had had approval."
"Okay," said the Bellman, whose head was in danger of falling apart like a chocolate orange, "Let me get this straight:
David Copperfield, unlike Pilgrim's Progress, which had had had, had had had had. Had had had had TGC's approval?"
There was a very long pause.

I put Jasper Fforde in the same high realm as J.K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett for his ability to create a new world with original creatures and physics, he is that good.

My rating for this book: ++++

Arctic Drift (2008)

I know I said in the last entry I wasn't supposed to be reading but I actually had finished this book days ago and I am taking a break from writing to add it to the blog.

Wonderful action. Yes, it's the stereotypical testosterone-pumped thriller but Clive Cussler some how manages to come off less misogynist than other action writers like Clancey or Brown. Maybe I'm just swayed by the fact that most of the action takes place on or under the water.

Anyway, the action in this book takes us as far north as is navigable, the Northwest Passage. Bad guys are digging for oil and expelling CO2 in disastrous amounts. Rumors of an extremely rare element being found in the northern parts of Canada have the bad guys and the good guys rushing to locate whatever amounts already mined and any mines still undiscovered.

It is always necessary for the reader of books like this to ignore any inconvenient facts that are glossed over. For instance, only in these books can divers go down thousands of feet and not have to undergo decompression. Characters are, of course, immune to the bends. We can excuse the author however, since it is extremely unlikely that a reader would take it upon themselves to attempt a dive like that, suffer debilitating effects, and sue. It is much more likely that people will take a blow dryer with them into a bath and electrocute themselves so the dryer company has to place a warning on the cable and absolve themselves of any fault if the user is that stupid.

In any case, this is a real page turner.

My rating for this book: +++

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010

November is National Novel Writers Month!

I'm taking the big plunge and attempting to write a novel this month. It's six days into the challenge and I've written over 8,000 words. I'll have to see if I can make it to 50,000 words.

I'm writing a YA novel about a boy whose father left to work in Columbia three years previously and hasn't been heard from since. The boy gets some help from some very shy and rare creatures that somehow connect books across space.

My back up plan, in case the story ends before I reach 50,000 words, is to create inter corollary chapters about made up mythological creatures.

In the meantime, I probably won't get much reading done since that is pretty much viewed as procrastinating as is my writing here on my blog. Oh, well. Back to work.

Wish me luck!