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Squirrels eat Parsley. Yum!


Hey, it's me, your Bitter Guy, bringing you joy & bliss and small chocolate goodies (small chocolate goodies currently unavailable).

I thought I might start off this bi-month's (greatest optimism, shurely?!) edition by ripping off a gag from Letterman and looking at some reader mail.

(Letters, we get letters, we get at least three or four letters. Lettersssss!)

jsnyder wrote to say

"Read the Rifts Novel: Sonic Boom. I dare you. It not only has bad grammar and spelling, the text file was corrupted at the printer. Subsequently, entire half paragraphs are missing. Read it. It's a real treat. Makes one appreciate a spell checker."

Well, not being one to turn down a dare, I thought "Sure!" Unfortunately, it's harder to find around here than an honest lawyer or hygienic demo team leader. But, trust me. Once I track it down, it will have no safe haven! Any brain damage I suffer will, however, be billed to you. And you don't have to tell me about spell checking. I've read Rifts:Canada.

Mike Powers (bitterite at large) wrote to me & said:

"I always get Terry Brooks and Terry Goodkind mixed up. I keep forgetting who wrote the boring Sword of Shannara and who wrote the Wheel-of-Time-ripoff-with-extra-S&M Sword of Truth."

You see, it's when I get reports like this that I realize how lucky I've been to never read the majority of these writers. And, as I've said on numerous occasions, while the Wheel Of Time may be the most candilicious books since the first three Myth books, or the greatest adventures since something I probably didn't want to read, I just don't have the lifespan to invest in a twenty book series of 900 pagers. Call me nuts.

procchi wrote: "I suppose that that means the only program with which still have a "harrowing involvement with a squad of uber-dorks", according to your rantings on RPG net, is the MiB program."

Okay, Einstein, Quick update. I said I was no longer involved with the Uber-Dorks, which included, to be honest, you and your fuzzy little she-man. Are your reading comprehension skills as badly evolved as your social ones (shurely not possible)?

"Let me remove this burden from you. As of the end of July, the Kingston cell of the MiB will be dissolved. As you have no other cell members, this will not be a hardship on them, and with your curent (sic) empoyment (sic)in Toronto, and blissful domesticity in Mississagua, I am certain you will find the extra free time useful."

Wow. I guess this means I should thank gum I don't live in a country that endorses freedom of speech or anything. I will say I miss the fun stuff, but if the crazy fat guy says I can't teach no more GURPS, that's how it's gotta be. I will always remember my time as an Addled Geek fondly, if you can call 'feelings of pure terror and profound disgust' fondness. I'll miss the thrown chairs, screaming fits, and pointless egotism, I must say.

Now, books!

Waiting For the Galactic Bus is pure heres-e-licious. I say that, of course, as an orthodox guy who can't wait to see Dogma cause I don't like Catholics. In Waiting two aliens come to Earth. Ditched by their pals, they decide to create humanity. They find that humans leave souls behind when they die, so they put together a couple places for them to stay, that get called "heaven" and "hell".

After a few thousand years, they find that two people are about to get together, but if they do, their child will be the Anti-Christ, or Hitler, or a demo-team leader, or some other foule, inhuman beast. Call it "Omen, the bad date", but they have to put a stop to the conception.

I have to wonder about a few details. These guys are fairly powerful, right? So, instead of setting up the great, elaborate scheme to keep Mr. & Mrs. Anti-Christ from getting together, why don't they just give the prospective pappy to be a bad flu and, whoops, there go your testes. I mean, it would be the path of least resistance. Instead, there's a huge plot to make the womanly type realize her guy just isn't good enough, and next thing you know, John Wilkes Booth and a saxophonist are getting involved.

In the end, everyone is happy, even the people who live in Hell, which is a lot like Heaven, only with more skinheads. Okay, that's not a LOT like heaven, but you know what I mean.

Slant by Greg Bear is a good book. Not only is it set in an interesting Milieu (like Snow Crash), not only are there interesting characters who do interesting things to themselves (like Snow Crash), but it's got a cool story whose climax makes sense. Unlike, say, Snow Crash.

Basically, it's a cool little post nano-tech world where techno-toilets will diagnose your every ailment, and where every ailment has a therapy. Slant (originally, the author wanted to title it '/', but the publisher didn't get it) is a murder mystery at its heart, with great style. The made up words are cool. You end up wondering at some of them. I didn't know, ferexample, what an Arbeiter was until they started talking about them melting. I figured they were just a term for, maybe, indentured servants or something. The best thing about the book is the term 'prosthetute', an artificial person designed for sexual enjoyment. The capacity to make jokes about this is so staggering I dare not approach it for fear my wings will melt and I will plunge to my death.

Toreador is the first Clan Novel produced by White Wolf in their 13 book series. I desperately hope the rest are better than this one. The books will chronicle a sprawling storyline that will shake the World of Darkness (to its very foundations, shurely!). This book, unfortunately, didn't shake my pepper.

It suffers from the great problems that the RPG gets accused of regularly. The main character is a boring whiner who seems frozen by his inability to sculpt other vampires (ohhhh. Could it have something to do with the overshadowing superplot? Do we care?). The action is glacial until the final pages. Strange motivations and mysterious plots we don't really come to care for, and which don't get resolved anyway, muddle the plot. And there's strange references to something called the Blood Curse that never gets put across. What, exactly, was it? Did it kill the vampires of Atlanta? Did it make them move to the suburbs and listen to John Tesh? Did it destroy their fashion sense, dooming them to a life of white sneakers, jeans and undersized t-shirts?

This book is the main reason my reading time has been so belabored lately (well, that and the tingly narcotic that is sweet, overwhelming love). While it did trigger a strong elbow reflex (def: The twitching in the elbow caused by the reading of a book that is neither enjoyable nor educational. If triggered in a public location, it could result in the loss of an eye for nearby bystanders), I could not put it down. Do you know why? Because I was given it to review. And I couldn't let Sandy down. You owe me for this, editor boy! Editor's note: read the other 12, then we'll talk.

Now, you may note that there are only 3 books reviewed this session. Fear not! The Bitter Guy shall return within the month, bearing the list of Books Which Could Not Be Finished!

After that, hopefully there will be another column shortly after, of books which could. These will include, knock wood, Lasombra, Ender's Shadow (Not a sequel! Not a dream! Not an imaginary tale! Okay, technically an imaginary tale), Only You Can Save Mankind, and a Neil Gaiman book I got for Valentines day but have not yet been permitted to read.

Until then, I remain, trenchantly yours,

J.J. Mohareb
The Bitter Guy

What do you think?

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