The Badger On: Ready Player One (Book)

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I thought it was about time to do another book since I have only officially ever one. Many of the review I have done were either based or connected to books, manga, comic books and graphic novels with the Hateful Eight being the only movie that was written directly for screen. The one I have chosen has no other medium connection but soon will with Stephen Spielberg set to direct an adaption for screen.

I do own the book in all three forms (physically, digitally and audio) but I have only listened to the book and not physically read it, my niece has the physical copy and I just haven’t had a chance to start reading my iTunes copy. I have though listened to it multiple times and it along with the All Souls books and Harry Potter are my favourite book/s to listen to. This is partially due to the reading of Wil Wheaton who is perfect for the job.

The book is a dystopian sci-fi set in an alternate future. Earth is a mess due to an energy crisis and global warming. The majority of the population have and live in the virtual world called OASIS which a virtual reality simulator that is a MMORPG and a virtual society where the currency used is actually the most stable in the world. When one of the creators of OASIS, James Halliday, dies without an heir to inherit his massive fortune in his will announces a kind of treasure hunt. He has left a golden egg somewhere in the OASIS and the first to find it will inherit his fortune and control of the OASIS.

The story follows one such hunter or ‘gunter’, as they are called. He is a high schooler by the name of Wade Watts who lives with his aunt in the stacks, mobile homes stacked up on each other, after his mother’s death. His avatar is Parzival and he is the second person to find the location of the first key and the first person to win it. The first person to find the location is a female gunter named Art3mis, whom Wade is a fan of and whom he meets on his exit.

The story is littered with eighties, gaming, arcade and nerd culture reference as James Halliday was a teenager during the eighties and was a huge nerd/geek. Even if you are not aware of all of the references the story is still an enjoyable read. The ending is a big climatic battle and race to the finish as Parzival as his friends Art3mis, Aech and Shoto battle to reach the egg before the nefarious Innovative Online Industries (IOI) who are willing to do anything to not only get the prize money but complete control of the OASIS.

If you like sci-fi and/or a geek or a lover of anything and everything eighties you will love this book or story. If you are not I would say give it a go as it a highly enjoyable read/listen.

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The Badger On: Batman: The Killing Joke (Graphic Novel and Movie)

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If you read my other blog you would know that I am on a bit of a DC binge with all my entertainment pursuits being DC related with the exception of The Magicians (only one episode left!!) and strangely enough episodes of the first season of Pokemon (blame GO for that). Hell, I watched Dawn of Justice twice last week alone and the extended edition to boot. My assessment on re-watch is that I know what they were trying to achieve with the movie, especially when it comes to Lex, I just don’t think they pulled it off with the exception being WONDER WOMAN!!! The SDCC for her movie is PHENOMENAL BTW so is Justice League one.

Enough of me hyping movies that won’t be released until next year. Today’s review/opinion piece is on the well-known and critically acclaimed book and the animated version of it, Batman: The Killing Joke.

The graphic novel is written by Alan Moore with the art by Brian Bollard and was released in 1988. Admittedly I had only read the book for the first time about a month ago. Actually that is wrong I bought the book in March of this year in preparation of when the movie will be released. I started to read it but the content and story is a little full on so I stopped reading only to pick it up about a month ago to finish reading it.

The story is considered a possible origin story for the Joker and even he states in the book that he prefers his past to be multiple choice. During the story we see flashbacks to what Moore and Bollard see as his origin. A former chemical engineer who quits to be a comedian and fails. With a pregnant wife, who he cannot support, he agrees to lead some crooks though the chemical plant he worked for so they can rob the factory next door. On the day of the job he is told that his wife and unborn child have died in a freak accident but is forced to do the job anyway. Wearing the Red Hood mask he leads them through only to be found by security and Batman. Scared and unable to see properly he trips and falls in a vat of chemicals and gets washed into the overflow bleaching his skin, turning his hair green and insane.

In the ‘present day’ Joker shoots Barbara Gordon and as his goons kidnap Commissioner Gordon. The Joker takes provocative photos of her as she is injured and bleeding (this is what made me stop reading the book). They take the Commissioner to an abandoned amusement park, strip him naked and subject him to torture, including the photos that Joker had taken of his daughter. Joker is doing this to prove a point. That even the best of people, the Police Commissioner of Gotham City perhaps, can be driven completely insane after having one bad day.

Batman, naturally shows up and rescues the Commissioner, who is not insane and orders him to do it by the book. After a fight in which Joker does his bad-guy monolouge in which he informs Batman what the purpose of it all was and correctly guesses that Batman does what he does because he too had a bad day. Batman, of course wins and lets Joker know that the Commissioner is not insane and that it is only him that went insane after all. He then offers Joker help as he fears that their rivalry will lead to one killing the other, in which of course Joker refuses. The story ends with the Joker telling a joke and both of them laughing.

Now the movie sticks very faithfully to this story with the exception of the first third to half of the movie, it is not a long story after all. The first part revolves around Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and I understand why they did it to. For those that are going to watch the movie who have never read the book or know much about Barbara Gordon, for something like what happened to her matter to the audience you have to care and you have to see why Batman cares. A friend of mine who was lucky enough to see the movie in theatre called the Batgirl part a backstory and in some ways it was but it was more of what leads Batgirl to quit.

I am, however, a little uncertain of it all maybe on re-watch and on a bigger screen (I watched in on a iPad Mini) I might appreciate/like it more. Barbara comes off cocky and arrogant which of course leads Batman to pull her reigns in a bit which of course makes her down right bratty. That didn’t really make me like her all that much and then the Batman/Batgirl fight leading to sex didn’t make it much better. I wasn’t surprised by the Bat sex per say as that part of their relationship had been hinted at in other DC related media that I had read or watched and I realise that it is not unnatural for something like that to happen but I just not sure if it was appropriate.

That being said it the movie was very well made and the voice acting was naturally wonderful. In Batman circles when you have Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker you can’t get any better. Tara Strong also did a  great job with Barbara Gordon as did Ray Wise as Commissioner Gordon.

 

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I just couldn’t resist!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Badger On: The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness (Book Series)

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Finally….. and the first of two posts today: 

Admittedly this is not something brand new to me but it is 3 book series that I continually listen to and enjoy immensely. From that statement you can tell that I have the audiobooks for them but I also have hard copies of the first two and own digital copies of all three. That is how much I have enjoyed these books. 

The series consists of:

The Discovery of Witches

Shadow of Night

The Book of Life

It is a urban fantasy with romance and a little bit of adventure. In this world there are humans, witches, vampires and demons (described in the first book as either Rock Stars or Serial Killers). There are more humans than there are of the other three ‘creatures’ and they live in plain sight. They are however not allowed to dabble in human politics or religion or allowed to mingle with each other in public as they become more noticeable to humans.

The stories revolves around Diana Bishop, who is a witch and a descendant of Bridget Bishop who was executed at Salem, she is a history professor specialising in the history of science and in particular alchemy. She is a non-practicing witch who decided to not use magic after her parents died in Africa, they were both powerful witches and anthropologist. The problem is that she is also very powerful and the magic is seeping out.

She unwittingly calls up a manuscript Ashmole 782, also known as the Book of Life, which has a spell placed on it that it will only open for her when she needs it. The breaking of the spell alerts the other creatures of its existence and bring her to the attention of Matthew Clairmont, a 1500 year old vampire who has been searching for the manuscript for a very long time. 

This unlikely pair of witch and vampire will fall in love and with the congregation, a council of 3 of each creature, and a more dangerous foe wanting not only the manuscript but to keep them apart Diana and Matthew will not only need to find out what secrets that Ashmole 782 holds but learn all they can about the magic that Diana possesses.

The books are set in England, France, Upstate New York,  Tudor England (Diana’s a Timewalker) and various locales in Europe. All three a great read or listen, if you are so inclined, with all three read by Jennifer Ikeda in the audiobooks version. She reads it well though she does change the way she voices the character of Gallowglass from an English accent in Shadow of Night to his actual Scottish origins in the Book of Life.  

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