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Begin Witty and Trenchant rantery:

 

Greetings. This is Justin Mohareb, bitter guy at large, here to present you with all the information you know to make your book reading decisions. I'll admit, this edition of the bitter guide is late. It is all your fault.

Well, not entirely. Bitter Guy's been having a 'shift his life into the good zone' couple of months, moving out of the den of the dragon woman and in with his dear ladyfriend (quick rant; there's a guy I know who uses that term far too often, to refer to pretty much every woman he knows. It is just one of the reasons for him being an idiot; the main reason for this is I don't believe he's ever actually been laid. But, as I say, I rant) and beginning a new career, which pays (unlike the Bitter Guide, which only pays in gratitude). Hence, the lack of priority for ranting, and lack of fuel for venting.

However, there is one small problem. I recently got to look at the nomination lists for the Auroras. Would you like to know how many noms ye Olde Bitter Guide got? It wasn't on the list.

Would you like to know how many nomination votes you need to get on the list? Two. And I KNOW I nominated myself. So. What happened to all you guys? Did you forget your stamps? Leave the envelope on the table? I'd really like to know. You see. I was kinda depending on you guys.

Ah, well. This year's nominations will open soon. And there's always the Hugos. Speaking of which, you ever notice how much those things look like a vibrator? That whole retro-cheesy rocket kinda thingy is just waaayyy freaky.

Okay, the books. First off is a big monster of a book, The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. Now, after reading this book, I was stunned by one fact: how little it sucked. I mean, let's look at it, shall we? It's a Fantasy book, which tends to be weak. It's a fantasy book about people from the real world in a fantasy world. Hmmm. You know, I've seen a few books similar to that in my time. And you know what? They allllll sucked. Every single one of them. Quite putrid. Foul. This book didn't suck at all. In fact, it was pretty good. Which just defied all odds. I mean, it had King Arthur in it. King Arthur! Hello? Knights of the Round table? Is that not an ingredient for suckitude? Of course, the tale of eternal damnation is broken when he, Guenivere and Lancelot ride off to their reward (which appears to be an eternal threesome). The single largest flaw with the book was the motivation of one of the characters. I mean, he spends the first chunk of the tale in a funk because his girlfriend told him she was leaving him to marry someone else and promptly died in a car accident. Hello? Let me tell you, some guys would LOVE that kind of closure. But Pwyll (which I guess is moping moron for 'Paul', although on some occasions Paul is gaping moron for Paul, but I vent) spends a few dozen chapters drowning himself in self pity. Well, waah, waah, waah.

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin (and who the hell names their kid Rural Route? Really!) was lauded and adored by the masses last year. I'll admit, it sucked me in too. It was a good book with some interesting characters (who end up getting killed far too often, so I hope the secondary ones are interesting too) and a nice plot. AGOT managed to be interesting, and even had the great ingredient, vital for a sprawling epic (tm), a dramatis personae. Of course, it was at the end of the book, which meant that by the time you got to it it was invalid and half the characters were dead. Joy. The great thing about it was its secret. It purports to be a Fantasy book(no elves; thank God). Yet, it is really Dallas in furs. I mean, read the back of the book: "The story of a noble family who must fight their enemies for power and control of the oil wells of texas". Okay, not quite, but the soap opera qualities of the story are evident. Of course, having been hogtied into watching soaps for the past month (but I love them, dear), I've realized that backstabbery and deception are fun things to watch. And that the scriptwriters on Another World must be FROM Another World. Demonic time travelling masterminds? Damn, this stuff ain't dull at ALL!

Hey, quick note. If you're thinking of picking up Carpe Jugulum, the latest book by Terry Pratchett, in hardcover, don't. While it wasn't hideous chunkage, it was a fairly poor book compared to, well, all his other ones. It has all the ingredients to be pure gold, too. The Witches of Lancre (wasn't Cher in that?) must duel a family of nouveau Vampires who've decided to take over the neighbourhood. In the course of the book, Pterry manages to slaughter goths and their ilk (there's these young vampires, ya see, who pretend to be accountants named "Harold". Ha ha, that was funny). However, it feels wrong. The charcters seem fairly stable (but quick note; I don't care for the whole Agnes/Perdita 'mock the fat chick' motiff), but they don't seem to do a lot other than run around helpless. There's a couple of sideplots (a pheonix and these little blue braveheart shits running around) that don't actually DO anything, and the main plot's resolution is even more deus ex machina than normal. All in all, fairly dissapointing. The Last Continent was kinda poor too, for that matter. I think the big guy needs to grab himself one of those breaks. Maybe get a tan, raise some plants who don't eat people. Stuff like that.

Howling Mad is a book I dragged out of an UBS downtown during a shopping trip. It's written by Peter David, and is interesting. It follows the story of a werewolf. However, there's a twist! It's a wolf who gets bit, and turns into a man! He gets transported to New York, and wacky adventures ensue! Wee! It's not actually as bad as all that, and I think it recently got re-released. The best thing about it is the great weapon against the werewolf is the hero's girlfriend's fillings. Of course, this does mean that when he IS erect (by which I mean bipedal, you depraved perverts) they can't kiss. Or do the Lewinsky, if you get my meaning. Which would suck, I guess; being human but missing out on something you just can't do as a wolf.

I've never been terribly fond of novelizations of comic book adventures. I mean, they just seem so lazy. It's like the writer is writing a novel series, and they don't have to do any establishment of the characters, or setting up of the world; the readers are expected to just KNOW it all already. This enables the writer to be one of two things: A) Lazy as all hell or B) just plain WRONG. The writer of the Thunderbolts book got it all right, but there wasn't a hell of a lot to it. The Battlin' Barons, Zemo & Strucker, decide to take over the world. So, they create an army of invulnerable Mandroids & chaos ensues. Unfortunately, while that kind of stuff plays well in a comic, in a book you find your brain struggling to wrap itself around it. The sheer number of primary characters is also a hassle. I mean, in a normal novel (except for the 'sprawling epic' I love so) you might have a half dozen or so characters you see more than once. In this, it was more like eight thousand. All in all, not as bad as some comic novels, but it's still no Miracle Monday.

I got The World Inside by Silverberg to complete my Book Club obligation (more like an indenture, but you know what I mean). Let me tell you, I wasn't sure what to make of this book. Then, it occurs to me. It's a piece of utopian fiction. And what a utopia it is! The basic concept of the book is that humanity is living in mega high rises that each house hundreds of thousands of people. Of course, there isn't much to do in this society, so people walk around having sex with each other. All the time. Humpa, humpa, humpa. I really thought "there's got to be a downside to all this somewhere!", but no. Pretty much perfect. I mean, sure, occasionally someone goes nuts and gets dumped down an elevator shaft. Which would suck, if it were you. But, really, is it that bad? I can think of dozens of people I'd like to toss down an elevator shaft. Like the ladyfriend guy.

So, to end it all, thank you for reading, and thank you for writing. If you are gonna write, make sure you check your reply-to stuff. I got a letter from a frequent reader, and I could't respond because his address was in latin. Ah, well.

"when Justin was in Juno's land, let my Justin go..."
Justin Mohareb
bitter@rpg.net

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