Wednesday, December 19, 2007
What should I do #4 - Homestar Runner and Friends.

Okay, forgive me if I'm a little brief here, but it's right at the end of the semester for me. I had a final yesterday, and I have one tomorrow. My end-of-semester grading looms on the horizon like a great looming damn squelchy thing. My Christmas shopping isn't done by half either, which means that the next handful of days are going to be rough...

There are still announcements on the horizon. But they'll have to wait until I have more time to type them up properly.

It's been a couple of weeks since I did an installment of "What should I do while I'm waiting for your next book to come out." Or, as I like to think of it, "Uncle Pat helps find things to read that aren't total crap."

First on the list:

The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher.

I first became aware of these books when my own book came out back in April, and I was obsessively watching my numbers on Amazon. Butcher's Ninth book had just come out in hardcover, and... well... It was kicking the ass off my book in the rankings. Even when my sales rank jumped up, his was always doing just a little bit better.

So I hated him. Not, y'know, a lot. Just in a kinda vague, grumbly, third-grader way. I'd see his book there, a few places above mine on Amazon's fantasy list. And I'd think things like, "Stupid urban fantasy bullshit. Stupid looking cowboy wizard. Ooohh.. Look who has a staff. How dumb. Grumble grumble."

Then I went out and bought a copy of the first book in the series, Storm Front. And it was REALLY GOOD.

Simply put, these books rocked my socks. I read all nine of them in less than three weeks.

And really, what's not to like? First person story about a clever magicy-type guy who leads a rough life. His magic is gritty and realistic. The author has a vast and eclectic knowledge base that adds nicely to the books. Honestly, I think Butcher might be my long lost twin. I'd love to meet him and talk shop some day.

Butcher writes great action scenes, and his characters change, grow, make mistakes, and reap the consequences of their own actions.

What I'm saying is that it's really good stuff, folks. Read it.

Second, I'd like to bring a book to your attention that probably has been under your radar....

The Secret History of Moscow, by Ekaterina Sedia.

I ran into this book way back I went to a convention in my hometown of Madison. My book had only come out a month or so beforehand, and nobody knew who I was. Or, if they did know, they didn't care much.

While wandering the dealer's room, I had picked up a little promo thing from the Prime Books table. It was one of those things where they print out the first chapter of the book as a teaser.

So I took one and read it at lunch. It hooked me in, and I went back to the table to buy the book. But... alas... the book wasn't going to be released for several months yet, not until November. Lifetimes away for someone with a memory like mine.

But then something magical happened. A person behind the table looked at my convention badge and said, "Wait, I've heard about you. You can have an early copy of the book if you want."

I tried to pay for the book, but they wouldn't let me. It took me a while to realize that they were just GIVING me a copy of the book because I was an author, and they were hoping, if I liked it, then maybe I would say nice things about it and help them spread the word to promote it.

Eventually I realized what was happening. It was like that scene from 2001 where the ape holds up the bone. Except I didn't club anyone to death with my free book. I pretty much just legged it away before anyone tried to take it away from me. It was my first, sweet taste of delicious authory fameperks.

Anyway, the end of the story is that I did read the book and I very much enjoyed it. It reminded me of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, but set in Moscow instead of London. And Sedia draws more on the Russian mythic tradition instead of the western stuff that Gaiman used. That was really interesting, and I learned some cool new stuff because of it.

And lastly: Homestar Runner.

I'm assuming most of you already know about it. But if you don't, then you're really missing out and I would be remiss in not bringing it to your attention.

You'll need to watch a little bit of it before it starts to make sense. After a while, it becomes like a new religion.

That's all for now folks. I've got to grab a little sleep before I head out to my final.

Much love,


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Blogger Jim C. Hines said...

Hm ... I thought Storm Front was pretty good, but not great. However, I'm also told the series gets a lot better as you go. I'm planning to pick up the next ones and find out for myself one of these days.

And I *really* need to get my hands on The Secret History of Moscow. I've been hearing good things about that one everywhere I turn. (And the author is really nice, which always helps.)

December 19, 2007 10:15 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Do you know how amazing I thought it was that you were recommending Homestar Runner?

I'm gonna look up those books while I'm home for break. Something to keep me entertained in my free hours of non-homeworking.

December 19, 2007 10:32 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Dresden is good stuff---his gaming roots show through a little painfully from time to time---i burned through all the books in about the same frame of time and I had just finished White Night when I found NOTW. I just thank God that they cancelled that unholy bastardization of a TV series that Sci-Fi was running where Harry's staff had been replaced by a hockey stick. If you missed it, yes it was as stupid as it sounds.

December 19, 2007 10:45 AM  
Blogger Jen Fu said...

Pat, I think you might enjoy the Tim and Eric Awesome Show on Adult Swim if you haven't already seen it. Here's a random scene from it:

That's my attempt to entertain you until your next book comes out.

December 19, 2007 11:53 AM  
Blogger Wes said...

I think I mentioned Butcher in a previous blog of yours. His Dresden series is great (the first 2-3 books are so-so compared to the rest of his series). I really don't like his Alera series much. It isn't bad fantasy, it is just run of the mill fantasy. I pretty much only recommend George RR Martin, Butcher, and yourself.

December 19, 2007 1:22 PM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

I remember our chat about Butcher- are you still going to let him know when you meet him that Abernathy's wagon sign was all your own? ;-)

"delicious authory fameperks"
You are cute-

December 19, 2007 1:56 PM  
Blogger Dave Bessom said...

Trogdor strikes again!

December 19, 2007 2:23 PM  
Blogger Kelly Swails said...

I like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files a lot.I discovered him a few years ago. For me, the middle of the series is the best. I liked the most recent one but not as much as the earlier stuff. It's all gritty and cool and grim, though. I like that Harry is flawed and conflicted.

December 19, 2007 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Rar! My local libray system has unfortunately failed to purchace a copy of 'Secret History,' which means I will have to find other things to read on my 8-hour car trip this holiday season....

Ah well, if all else fails, I can re-read NOTW!

December 19, 2007 6:21 PM  
Anonymous LemurKat said...

Man, I wish people would give me free books! I'm not a famous author but I work in a book store and it's my duty to promote good literature.

Like "Name of the Wind" for example, after listening to the Hachette Livre publishing people ranting on about how good it was at their Christmas Roadshow, I had to read it. And I agree, totally, with their hype. I love the way that you have approached all the typical, dare-I say-it, boring, fantasy stereotypes from an entirely fresh new angle. I loved the way Kvothe had to actually work his way into the magic university despite his obvious talent (it always miffed me rather that Mr Harry got everything handed to him on a golden plate - from admiration to money and enemies). The scientific approach to magic. The drug-addicted dragon... And thanks to the Christmas rush, I've almost sold our store out of this fine fantasy novel ^^ (btw, I review on as "Raynflower" if you're curious, can't remember if I printed my review there or not, might go do that now).

I have decided now to hunt down some Dresden books.

December 19, 2007 7:57 PM  
Blogger *lynne* said...

hi! I'm delurking to say I'm glad you like the Jim Butcher book - make sur eyou read the rest, it only gets better. I've never heard of the Ekaterina Sedia book but it's now on my to-read list :-) Anything Neil Gaiman-like is certainly up my alley. I have yet to pick up a book by you, however, remind me next time I'm at the library, okay? :-)


December 19, 2007 9:48 PM  
Blogger Denver said...

Homestar runner! My rating for you pat has just gone up ten fold. I sent you an e-mail, like a while ago..reading your blog I guess it's easy to forget that other people have lives..even though I don't. So you don't have to respond..

I hope all went well with your finals and your shoping.

December 19, 2007 11:44 PM  
Blogger Denver said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 19, 2007 11:44 PM  
Blogger Denver said...

God dang it!....I suck at this blog thing, sorry about the double post....again.

December 19, 2007 11:46 PM  
Blogger gillen033 said...

If you havn't already read them, you should really try out Jim's other series, the first of which is titled "Furies of Calderon." There are four of them so far, and he usually has one out a year. These books are truly amazing,and every one of them is on my favorites list. The main character is one of the most compelling characters I have found in any book, and the other characters and world are brought to life with seemingly effortless creativity.
These books are even better than The Dredsen Files in my opinion, especially if you're a fan of fantasy.

To Wes, I am baffled at how you could like George RR Martin but not the Alera series. . .but I guess that is human individuality for you!

December 19, 2007 11:48 PM  
Blogger Jordan R said...

I could spend years reading books you have recommended pat. Right now I am reading "In the Eye of Heaven" by David Keck which you mentioned in an interview. Thanks for throwing these books out there. I trust your opinion highly.

December 20, 2007 9:38 AM  
Anonymous nick said...

Hah! That's because he's spent years reading the books that he then reccomends to us.

I always get a bit leery when comparing book tastes with people, since I have this tendancy to ramble on about so many books they lose track.... It's dangerous.

December 20, 2007 9:55 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

Picked up Storm Front from the library and thought it was ok; I usually prefer something with a little more "meat" though.

As for other recommendations, I *highly* suggest the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson, a British author. Extremely intricate and oftentimes heart wrenching, they are some of the best books I've read .

December 28, 2007 2:58 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

*grins* Currently working my way through the Dresden Files, and _thank you_ for the recommendation. I finished book 3 last night, I do feel they're getting better as they go, and if he'd knock of the constant re-explaining and assume people are reading the things sequentially I'd be even happier. 8)

January 4, 2008 10:42 AM  
Anonymous hoorah said...

First Firefly, and now HomestarRunner? If we can't get you on a panel at PAX, I may have to beg you to just come and hang out!

January 11, 2008 4:24 AM  
Anonymous Kevlar said...

Pat, I love that you love homestar runner. That little tidbit just made my day. Well not really seeing as I have some very, uh, plans for the evening with my girlfriend, but you get the point. My older brother turned me on to homestar runner about 8 years ago and I think that the strongbad e-mails are among the funniest things I have ever seen. They are all hilarious too, there isn't a single one i don't like. However, if any of you guys aren't familiar with strongbad, check it out. Oh and, my favorite one is duckpond.

By the way, I love your book Pat, all of my friends are getting really annoyed that I keep trying to get them to read it, except for the ones that have read it because now they're on my side. I know book two is going to be impecable and I was born with the patience of... something very patient, so, no hurry.

April 4, 2009 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are as cute as a fluffy puppy. :)

I tried to read Jim Butcher's Storm Front but I just couldn't get into it. Due to your recommendation I have the urge to try it out again.

Also seconded the recommendation for Steven Erikson's A Tale of The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I think the only one who can rival you in the using words that seems to flow is Erikson so better sure to check him out if you hadn't already.

June 20, 2009 8:56 AM  

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