The Book Backlog

I’m going to try and read 30 books this year.  That may not sound like much, but it’d be better than the 24 I managed in 2014, and the pitiful 6 I managed in 2013.  (Finishing 30 would be the most for me since 2010, when I started 38 and finished 31; I apparently didn’t keep track of this stuff before then.)

To that end, this is my current to-read backlog.  This is all stuff I’ve bought, currently idling in my Kindle account, waiting to be started.  I’m simply listing them in the order they’re appearing on my Kindle; I don’t know that this is how I’ll take them on.

  1. The Martian, Andy Weir
  2. Silver Screen Fiend, Patton Oswalt
  3. Your Face Tomorrow, Vol. 1: Fever and Spear
  4. Your Face Tomorrow, Vol. 2: Dance and Dream
  5. Your Face Tomorrow, Vol. 3: Poison, Shadow, and Farewell, Javier Marías
  6. You, Austin Grossman
  7. Yes Please, Amy Poehler
  8. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
  9. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell
  10. The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
  11. Ubik
  12. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
  13. Valis
  14. The Divine Invasion
  15. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, Philip K. Dick
  16. The Malice of Fortune, Michael Ennis
  17. The Egyptologist, Arthur Phillips
  18. Skinner, Charlie Huston
  19. The House of Rumour, Jake Arnott
  20. The Disaster Artist, Greg Sestero
  21. The Flame Throwers, Rachel Kushner
  22. Submergence, J.M. Ledgard
  23. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, Haruki Murakami
  24. The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber
  25. Orfeo, Richard Powers
  26. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
  27. I Am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes

So if I can knock all those out, then I can certainly treat myself to 3 new books when I’m done, and meet my challenge.

Backlogs and futurelogs

1.  I finished Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris last night.  I’m not sure that “underwhelmed” is the right word to describe my experience with it, though I’m having trouble finding something more apt.  The original game felt really fresh and new, and this feels very much like a safe treading over the same ground; there’s no flash or spark of inspired design.  The single-player campaign was surprisingly short, too, and even though I’ve still got some side stuff to do, it’s not all that much.  I’d still like to kick the tires on online co-op; I’ve heard that some of the puzzles change when there’s more than one person involved, and so maybe that would keep things from getting stale.  Nevertheless, I’m not feeling pulled back to beat my high scores the way I was the last time around.

2.  After finishing LC, I wanted to give Far Cry 4 another go, but for some reason I was having trouble logging in.  I’m not sure that the PS4 was having the same problems that Xbox One owners were, but the Ubisoft servers were taking a really, really, abnormally long time to get going, so I put it aside and went back to Dragon Age Inquisition to take a look at some sidequests.  Man, that game is hard to go back to once the campaign is over; suddenly all these quests seem frivolous and padded out.  I was able to overlook that when I was playing the campaign – if only because I was mostly just grinding, and the grinding was relatively fun to do – but now that there’s nothing big to work towards, I’m having a really hard time staying invested.

3.  I’m also kinda dabbling again in the PS4 version of GTA V; I’m far enough now where I’ve finished the first heist and I’ve unlocked Trevor.  Get ready for some hyperbole:  Michael is one of the worst “protagonists” in the history of the medium.  He’s such an obnoxious asshole; every word out of his mouth makes me cringe.  This is partly because the dialogue is so rotten and riddled with misogyny and condescension, but it’s also because the voice actor thinks he’s in Goodfellas or the Sopranos.  Even playing as the psychotic Trevor seems like a breath of fresh air.  I had a hard time with the game the first time around; it’s really excruciating to get through this second time, and I’m not sure I’m going to play much more of the campaign.  I don’t really know what the current state of the online side of things is; if you’re there, is it worth checking out?  I’d gotten my character to level 10 on the 360 before getting distracted with other things, and I’ve synced it up on the PS4, but… I’m not really interested in getting shot at while walking down the street.

4.  Switching gears:  I’m a little more than halfway through Andy Weir’s The Martian, which is something of a frustrating read.  On the one hand, it’s a fantastic premise for a realistic science fiction story, in that it’s about an astronaut stranded on the surface of Mars and his attempts at surviving and getting back to Earth, and all of his methods seem rooted in real-world tactics – as if the author interviewed a bunch of NASA people and asked them what someone could actually do.  On the other hand, a lot of that stuff ends up being a bit dry.  Furthermore, while the stranded astronaut is rather chipper and funny and is doing his damnedest to keep a smile on his face, there’s really no arc to him; he doesn’t have any feelings or emotions beyond finishing his next task.  The book seems to be much more about making his ordeal (and his attempts to rectify it) as realistic as possible, and I suppose the only way he could survive is if he didn’t stop to take stock about how fucked he is – and even though he does actually, literally say “I’m fucked” an awful lot, he generally manages to get un-fucked within a paragraph or two.  So there’s no real terror or dread to his predicament; he seems resigned to his fate, whether or not he’s successful at fixing it.  That’s an awfully good way to handle his predicament, of course, but it doesn’t make the book particularly moving.

5.  I’ve been trying to stop apologizing for not posting on a regular basis; I do my best to post at least 3 times a week, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way – for any number of reasons, none of which I can get into here.  But I suppose I should say that if it does get a little dark here in the next few weeks, it’s only because I’m working on some other projects which I am hoping to share with everyone soon enough.  I’ll keep you all posted on that stuff as it progresses, but in the meantime I’m trying to actually work, as opposed to talking about working (which is what I usually end up doing).

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