shannara marches on

Somewhat timely that we finished watching season 2 of The Shannara Chronicles on netflix shortly after the limited edition of book 4 arrived in the mail. I remember finding the original trilogy in paperback a long time ago in a secondhand bookshop in Sydney’s CBD, possibly Ashwood’s. There used to be several clustered down near Goulburn St.

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I recall Ashwood’s had a bunch of SF on display down in the back righthand corner and piles on the shelves beneath. I would studiously go through each of those piles looking for interesting titles and so it was that I first read Shannara, a trilogy initially, then as more books were published I ended up with 12 in a mix of secondhand and new, mass paperback and trade. Trade paperbacks were about the same size as hardcovers and of better quality than the regular mass paperback.

I think I lost track at some point, or moved on, perhaps lost interest. Looking at wikipedia, I see there’s over 20 now. A specialist press, Grim Oak, has been publishing nicer editions with hardcover, slipcase, placeholder ribbon, not to mention signed matching numbers for around US$100 each. Pricier than a new release but not stupid money either. As each has arrived, I have been re-reading them. I enjoyed the first and second again though found the third a little slow going. The writing was ok and the story a little reminiscent of the third book of the Lord of the Rings, in that sense of “would you please hurry and get to the end”. That’s possibly an apt comparison as Shannara was often seen as bit of a ripoff of the Tolkien books though these days, many things are.

A thing I liked about the Shannara books was that they seemed to be set in a post apocalyptic earth. This world contained remnants of buildings and technology, odd science and tracings of 20th century life; a fantasy world modelled over an actual world, that sense of back to the farm and disconnected communities. That was one thing I did like about the TV series that it really brought that sense of overlapping worlds to the fore though I found the dialogue and story progression rather laboured and forced.

picture books

Absolute Sandman Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman

When I was in Bowral last Christmas, I started re-reading Volume 1 of the Absolute Sandman as I was conscious that I never got round to reading the entire series. It was published as 4 volumes initially and later there was a 5th volume and a volume devoted to Death. I figured it was a good time to read them all through and made good ground initially. I took a break and read other things, recently finishing Volume 1 and anticipating continuing with Volume 2 in the near future. Dark stories well told; at times ethereal as they soak into my imagination.

A few weeks ago, or was it months, I managed to find a good edition, “as new” of the Omnibus edition of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I recall seeing the movie version many years ago and while not blown away, it retained a certain charm and I wished there had been a sequel with a little more depth. The movie felt more like an introduction, of sorts, rather a complete tale. The omnibus is occasionally available through secondhand retailers but tends to be a little pricy due to weight and consequently higher delivery costs. I recently found a nice edition, reasonably priced and bit the bullet. It too, I am enjoying, having finished part I and soon to embark on part II. I believe I should also but the Black Dossier for further tales.

The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: Omnibus

Other enjoyable graphic novels in recent years include:

And The Umbrella Academy Vol 1 (deluxe edition) by Gerard Way. I’d been waiting a while for the deluxe edition to be published. I first came across this when the series appeared on netflix last year. The timing was sorta right and my partner and I binged it all. I loved it both for the creative story telling and outlandishness of sorts. One of the better things I’d seen in a long while. Needless to say I went hunting for the original graphic novels and while I did find them, they were a little pricy on the secondhand market so I thought I’d wait and see if some special editions appeared and sure enough they have. There’s 3 volumes with each releasing every few months so I pre-ordered them all with the first arriving just prior to lockdown.

mutterings

Been a while since I last said much…it’s April and it feels like I haven’t really stopped in ages. But I sputter on. Work remains exhausting but fun though I’m spending a day/week in systems which is nice but means I’m cramming the rest of my job into 4 days/week which is at times hectic, at times ok. I haven’t been getting to the fun stuff as much as I’d like.

I think that’s about to change as I’ve had the terms of reference approved to create a working  group focusing on the collection of social media…this is in addition to my responsibilities for web harvesting. We have access to some nice tools, which other amazing people got up and running and I hope to build on their work. I am anticipating good things and looking forward to sharing the development with others.

I feel a little behind in my media consumption – perhaps always behind though that’s not I think, unhealthy. I  haven’t finished season 2 of Jessica Jones though only a couple of episodes remain. I was getting close then Far Cry 5 was released so that sucked up a little time. And God of War was released last week so I’ve put Far Cry aside for a while to focus on the new adventures with Kratos. To be fair, God of War is the one I’ve been waiting a long while for, while the Far Cry releases are fun, there is something about the mix of storytelling, puzzles, and violence that makes God of War rather compelling.

I am at least, with my partner, halfway through Altered Carbon, which is proving to have some good ideas and emerging as decent science fiction…there’s a few times I’ve wondered whether this would have been a better direction to pursue with the second Bladerunner flick, though I did like it to a point. This year is the 40th anniversary of Blakes 7 and we are watching from the start as I bought the 4 seasons on DVD some years ago. It remains a pet peeve that there is no apostrophe in the screened title, nor of course on the DVDs, though everyone tends to put one in. One day, perhaps we’ll get to the boxed set of The Avengers (the older English version of course).

time to play

I was a little disappointed that Tomb Raider for the PS4 was not out in time for the long weekend…not to mention Dishonored 2 and the updated version of Skyrim…all of which are due in October. Later in October when I probably won’t have as much time to play. On the other hand, it doesn’t really matter if I don’t get to play them on day 1, yet there is something of that sense of release day anticipation…still. I’m 48 now and I feel it at the edge of my consciousness: lurking, waiting, intensifying. It is the same of books, I have to have that book on day 1, first edition, etc…though I no longer necessarily read it that day.

Yet, day 1 desire remains.

I recently got round to playing The Last of Us, the PS4 remastered version of which was released in 2014…2 years ago, and the PS3 version was released before that. It was still a good game. Then there’s the Bioshock Collection, released in September on the PS4 yet been around for years on other platforms. I nearly bought it for the long weekend but thought no, I won’t finish all 3 by the time Tomb Raider is released. I can always play it later.

The PS3 version of Skyrim was a massive timesink and I spent over 300 hours playing it that summer. I may never have time to play that enough, nor even that amount of time to play. I was single and living alone in those days, now I have other, wonderful people in my life. I still fire up the PS3 and play a little Skyim every so often. Yet, I am also curious about starting from scratch on the PS4 and seeing what sort of game I’d play these days.

Instead, on the long weekend, I bought nothing new and enjoyed what I had. I continue to be rather fond of No Man’s Sky, though it’s more exploratory than actual game. It is strangely alluring and easy to lose many hours playing. I finally got round to playing The Order: 1886 which was generally panned on release as being short and lacking in the gameplay department. While gameplay is a little simplistic and full of detailed setpieces, it is visually sumptious and I’m hard put to think of a game that is so well realised in its visualisation of the environment. I’ve spent a lot of time just sitting back and viewing my surroundings. The story too, seems sufficient and I look forward to finishing it off.

Further to gaming I finally finished season 1 of Daredevil on Netflix which was pretty fab. I found the 13 episodes a little slow at times but the story and character development was good. I’m undecided whether to move to season 2, or watch season 1 of Jessica Jones next, and of course Luke Cage has recently dropped. I have at least read most of the comics for Jessica Jones. To top off a good three days off work, I also managed to get through the first half of season 2 of Once Upon a Time. Somewhere in there, I’d like to fit in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D but suspect I’ll need to buy the DVDs as it doesn’t seem to be on the Oz version of Netflix. I do have the DVDs for the first season of The Expanse and I’ve read the first two books.

So much to watch and play and yet I still hunger for day 1 releases. That’s a wee bit wrong.

recycling tv

[this is a leftover draft from #blogjune that I never got round to posting – I’ve updated it a little eg in June, I’d barely watched any Once Upon a Time and I’m now partway through season 3. I hadn’t watched Daredevil but have since finished season 1]

I watch so little TV at the best of times and there are so many shows I need to watch, or even finish watching. On top of that, I occasionally get a hankering to rewatch shows I saw long ago. While this post is an attempt to keep track of them, I suspect it’s more likely to be a tombstone to my continuing failure :)

  • Firefly (rewatch)
  • Torchwood (rewatch)
  • Dr Who (watch – I’ve only seen the first few episodes of Series 1 with Christopher Eccleston)
  • Battlestar Galactica (rewatch original, watch new series)
  • The Gilmore Girls (rewatch)
  • The West Wing (watch – this failure is particularly embarrassing)
  • Jessica Jones (watch – I have at least read the comics)
  • Archer (watch – I have seen one episode)
  • Blakes 7 (rewatch – sort of, I’ve seen many episodes but not all of them. I do at least own the complete series)
  • Alias (rewatch)
  • The Blacklist (watch – have seen the first couple of episodes)
  • Stargate (watch)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (watch – recently bought the DVD)
  • Daredevil (have watched first season, not got round to second season yet)
  • Hogan’s Heroes (rewatch – have boxed set)
  • Twin Peaks (watch – this failure is also particularly embarrassing)
  • Once Upon a Time (watch – remarkably I am watching this and am partway through third season)
  • Babylon 5 (rewatch)
  • The Professionals (rewatch in entirety – I am curious to see if I still like Bodie and Doyle)

That’s a good start but I have no doubt there’s more that I’ve forgotten.

the next day

Had a lovely time last night as one of about 40-50 guests of the ABC Library, Sydney. Looks like around 200 folk sent in requests to attend, and it was very much a matter of first in, first served. I didn’t know most of the people there and ended up meeting a few new people which was nice. Plus got to hang with a couple of mates who’d managed to make it too. The ABC Librarians excelled themselves, running 3 tours (10 minutes each) covering different aspects of what the library does and covers. I particularly liked their cataloguing system for videos, film,etc. Librarians can put items in any available space on any shelf. Once placed, they scan the item’s barcode and the shelf barcode, and the system is automatically updated with the item’s current location ie shelf order is irrelevant. So long as both barcodes are scanned, any old space will do. Maximises space and means you don’t have gaps on the shelves going unused. Awesome.

Ended up watching the end of The Chaser while relaxing on one of the couches, sipping champas and nibbling on some delish cheese and crackers. As for the main event, The Librarians, it seemed to go down well. I liked it and thought it a reasonable first episode, a few funny moments, and a few bits that made me feel uncomfortable. While the racism seemed spot on, I reckon they pushed that line a bit too much and it felt overbearing. There wasn’t anything that really jarred with my own library experiences and I’m looking forward to future episodes. Various librarians have been blogging already and there’s been some discussion on librarian elists. Some folk liked it, some folk hated it and some folk were happy to wait and see. There’s a total of 6 episodes and the trick for me will be to remember to watch TV; I may well end up downloading the episodes later.

the librarians are coming

Well tonight is the big night, the premiere of a new ABC comedy titled “The Librarians“. ALIA, the Australian Librarian and Information Assoc, is even hosting a blog devoted to it. Librarians around the country are hosting launch parties, with dressing up encouraged. Yours truly will be attending a gathering at the ABC Library inside the ABC bunker in Ultimo where 40 librarians will be partying hard.