Idlewild (Idlewild, #1)Idlewild by Nick Sagan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“This guy obviously has a sense of wonder in his DNA… an essential upgrade for The Matrix generation — download now!” Stephen Baxter

This quippy blurb was written many years before e-books appeared. When he’s saying “download” he’s simply using tech lingo. People didn’t use to download books just ten years ago. Just making sure.

Well, Stephen Baxter’s quote about Idlewild, which features several times in this book, including most prominently on the cover, is what it’s all about really. I imagine Nick Sagan hates continuously being compared to his father in such a way, but I can’t imagine a better ad for the book itself. I mean, it’s the reason I got interested in it in first place (“huh, Carl Sagan’s son wrote a sci-fi book?”), and to be perfectly honest, I can’t shake the feeling it has a lot to do with why it was written, too.

Anyway, Idlewild reads a lot like a cross between The Matrix, Harry Potter (or other books similar to it that have many special youngsters studying their powers together), Neuromancer and Doctor Who, because of the virtual reality time-and-space-travel. If that sounds entertaining to you, I think you will have a good time reading it (I did).

Admittedly, I thought that the characters were much stronger than the plot itself: while reading I was much more interested in seeing what kinds of new and interesting interactions could emerge between them than I was reaching the end. Nevertheless, I have to say that the plot twist came completely out of the blue, and yes, I’m mildly curious about the sequel. I might read it at some point.

Finally, I would have given it four stars if it wasn’t for the fact that at times I could notice instances of Mr. Sagan attempting to flex his literary muscles. With truly masterful writing this may or may not be perceivable, but it doesn’t really matter, because the reader is inclined to surrender, to suspend disbelief. “This was so cheesy, but I love it!” Here I often caught myself realising that I was reading parts of the book that the writer, Carl Sagan’s son, rewrote many times while actively trying to make them appear as intelligent and techno-cool as he possibly could. Did he succeed? Well, I guess it depends whether you’re asking about the appearance of or the actual intelligence hidden within.

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Finding the Fox (The Shapeshifter, #1)Finding the Fox by Ali Sparkes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yet another special-boy/girl-gets-picked-up-by-special-school story in the vain of Harry Potter. With Lexicon and Idlewild, I feel like I’ve been reading loads of these lately, yet I have strangely forgotten to grow tired of them. However, it has to be said that Finding the Fox was different from these books: it was simple. Easy to follow, easy to visualize, but beautiful nonetheless. I have a soft spot for beautiful simplicity as a concept, what can I do. And I also have a soft spot for people turning into animals and very detailed descriptions of what it feels like it to be a fox.

I don’t even have to tell you the story: Finding the Fox is almost exactly like Harry Potter, the protagonist himself even more so (quasi-orphan, living with his step-parents and calling a glorified cupboard his room, special powers suddenly emerging, special school comes a-looking, special school is awesome, best part of book is exploring wonders of special school and its students). It doesn’t matter that it’s a book for preteens or early teens, I enjoyed it just the same, similarly, I expect, to how I would’ve enjoyed Harry Potter if I read it for the first time at 26.

Did I mention it’s all just so English, in the same way Harry Potter is just so sine qua non English? It couldn’t be any other way, either, similarly to when Spaced tried to be American and it realised it couldn’t bring itself to ever passably drive on the right, or say “like, like, like…” nearly annoyingly enough.

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The Hobbit, or There and Back AgainThe Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finally, after three years of idling, finish it I did! I was stuck since 2011 (dunno why) at the part right before the party got into the mountain. Then I watched the first and third films and disliked them, so I got very close to never actually finishing The Hobbit. However, since this is book-a-week year (just finishing books counts too!) I couldn’t resist the temptation…

I have to say I quite enjoyed Tolkien’s writing, at least in The Hobbit. I think it was the perfect balance between complex descriptions and enjoyable dialogues, and I’m saying that having read LOTR in Greek many years ago and knowing what kind of an experience having the scale lean towards the descriptions and the story of everybody, their friends and their friends’ friends’ dog’s grandmothers side is.

In a few words: The Hobbit in book format was more enjoyable than the films, while in LOTR’s case the reverse was true for me. But books such as Tolkien’s are difficult to criticise because they are so deeply influential and part of everybody’s “discovering the realm of high fantasy” phase, somewhere between the ages of 11 and 14.

Is The Hobbit the post-war Harry Potter? Will teens enjoy Harry Potter 50 years from now the way I did growing up? Will Harry Potter eventually spawn a universe of influences unforeseeable to us today? Did Tolkien ever imagine what kind of worlds he would inspire in the imaginations of others?

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Detachment, Part Three

Ως συνέχεια του Part Two.

Θέλω να κάνω τη μεγαλύτερη εκκαθάριση έβερ. Να χαρίσω παλιά ρούχα και αντικείμενα τα οποία πιάνουν χώρο, βιβλία που δεν διάβασα ποτέ και ούτε πρόκειται, επιτραπέζια που δεν έπαιξα ποτέ και ούτε πρόκειται, να πάρω την γενναία απόφαση και να πετάξω (μερικά τουλάχιστον, όσα έχω τα καρύδια να αφήσω) χαρτάκια, σημειωματάκια και τέτοια τα οποία κράταγα για συναισθηματικούς λόγους που είχα ξεχάσει ότι τα είχα, και γενικά να ξεφορτωθώ πράγματα τα οποία πιάνουν χώρο και κρατάνε μέσα τους ένα κομμάτι του παρελθόντος – για καλό και για κακό. Ήδη αυτές τις μέρες πήγα στον Σκόρο και άφησα παλιούς ευρωπαϊκούς σιδηροδρομικούς χάρτες από την εποχή του InterRail και της Ολλανδίας, κάρτες Χάρι Πότερ που άντε να είχα παίξει μια φορά με τον Τζιμ τον Τούση, κάποια πουκάμισα και… έναν ξύλινο σταυρό.

Κι άλλες φορές έχω κάνει τέτοιες (μικρές θα έλεγα) εκκαθαρίσεις αλλά αυτή τη φορά ήταν τα μουσικά CD μου τα οποία έχω μαζέψει εδώ και τόσα χρόνια που πέρασαν απ’το κόσκινο. Τα περισσότερα έχω απλά χρόνια να τους ρίξω μια δεύτερη ματιά, πόσο μάλλον -όπως οι περισσότεροι μας πλέον- να τα ακούσω, οπότε ήρθε η ώρα να τους πω αντίο.

Κάποια από αυτά τα αγόρασα στον εαυτό μου, κάποια δεν θυμάμαι πως έπεσαν στα χέρια μου, κάποια μου τα δώρισαν παλιοί φίλοι και γνωστοί… Είμαι ευγνώμων για τις ευχάριστες ώρες που μου χάρισαν και ελπίζω να μπορέσουν να τα απολαύσουν και άλλοι.

Ιδού η λίστα:


Rush – Moving Pictures
Rush – 2112
Universal Master Collection – Classic Anthrax
Train – She’s On Fire
In Flames – Soundtrack To Your Escape (+Bonus DVD)
Nirvana – Nirvana
Opeth – Ghost Reveries
KoRn – KoRn
KoRn – Follow The Leader
Natural Dreams – Natural Guitar
Nightwish – Oceanborn (γερμανικό εξώφυλλο)
Mick Jagger – Primitive Cool
Re-Rewind To Garage City
Iron Maiden – A Real Live Dead One
Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms
Hawkwind – Epocheclipse (The Ultimate Best Of)
Euphoria – Mixed by PF Project
Stratovarius – Elements Pt.1
Ocean – Eloy
Age of Mythology – Collector’s Edition (το ανακάλυψα στα CD μου και θα το χαρίσω σαν CD)
Age of Empires – Collector’s Edition (παρομοίως. Τέτοια εποχή, πριν 12 χρόνια σε έλιωνα εσένα…)
Age of Mythology OST


Def Leppard – Pyromania
Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
Cyan – Medieval Tales
Kong in Concert (2CD)
Happy Fest (ινδουιστική μουσική)
Rainbow – Rising
Phil Collins – Serious Hits Live
Albanian Hip-Hop Rap Collection
Nightwish – End of Innocence
Nefilim – ZOON
Fragile Vastness – Tribute To Life