Thursday, February 14, 2019

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts

The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts by Nintendo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My wife and I both dismiss Valentine's Day as a commercial holiday. When I got home from work yesterday, she surprised me with this. Luckily I'd gotten her a t-shirt with that caterpillar from the Labyrinth on it so I wasn't caught empty-handed.

The Legend of Zelda series is my favorite video game series of all time and I have fond memories of gazing at the art in the manuals and promotional materials. This book is treasure trove of Zelda art. It's a weighty tome at over 400 pages and I bet there are less than 4000 words in the entire thing, all occurring in an interview with artists on the series at the very end of the book.

Every page is packed with art. There are concept sketches, promotional art, box art, art from the manuals, even pixel art from the games themselves. Every game, from the original Legend of Zelda to the most recent game, Breath of the Wild, is well-represented. I don't have the Zelda II manual anymore but I think some of the art for it came from issues of the Nintendo Fun Club Magazine, the precursor to Nintendo Power. Is Nintendo Power still being published? Anyway, every character, every enemy, and even every magical item is depicted. I can't imagine a better source of Zelda art than this book. Four out of five Triforces.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Review: Recursion - SPOILERS

Recursion Recursion by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Your best bet is to go into this cold. I've marked it this entire reviews as having spoilers. If you read the review now, it's your own damn fault.

In a world where False Memory Syndrome is slowly becoming an outbreak, Detective Barry Sutton watches a woman kill herself, driven mad by her memories of another life. What horrible secrets will Barry uncover when he follows her back trail?

Blake Crouch has been a favorite of mine for a few years, first because of the Wayward Pines series, then Dark Matter. When I saw Recursion was up on Netgalley, it was a no-brainer.

One of my favorite late night topics when I was in college, still easily capable of staying up until the small hours on a daily basis, was whether or not time travel might be possible in an altered state of consciousness, going back to an earlier point in your own timeline. What would you do if you could go back in time and change a pivotal event in your life? We've all asked ourselves that question, sometimes multiple times a day. But how often do you ask yourself about the repercussions around you, the ripples spreading throughout the pond? That's the well Blake Crouch draws from in Recursion.

In the early goings, Detective Sutton lifts up rocks and sees the bugs scattering, revealing a vast enterprise built on accessing memories and shifting people back in time. Can the man himself be tempted by what time travel has to offer?

Duh, of course he is! While it seems great at first, the book quickly becomes race after race against time, trying to outrun and undo the consequences of unfettered time travel. I've given this an easy five but it's not quite a perfect sf thriller. My only gripe is that Helena and Barry fall in love too easily. Insta-love, as the kids used to call it. Also, it leans on an episode of The Outer Limits just a tad.

Anyway, apart from that, this one is balls to the wall. Once the memory chair plans are leaked, things quickly become a shit storm of ultimate proportions. Barry and Helena spend timeline after timeline trying to set things right, only to be disappointed, only to learn, finally, that the best way to save the world is to leave it alone.

Blake Crouch has made an art out of taking an interesting sci-fi hook and wrapping an engaging thriller around in. Recursion may be his best one yet. Five out of five stars.

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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Review: Fletch

Fletch Fletch by Gregory McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When posing as a drug addict on the beach to find out the source of the beach's main dealer, Fletch is hired by a rich man dying of cancer to kill him. But does Alan Stanwyk really have cancer? That's what Fletch wants to find out...

I've watched both Fletch movies but not for a couple decades at least. When this popped up on one of my cheap-o ebook emails, I snapped it up.

Fletch the book is a pretty good dialogue-driven mystery. Fletch the character is a smooth talker, a man not afraid to tell bold faced lies to get the information he wants. While he shares the dry deliver of Chevy Chase from the movie Fletch, he's no Chevy Chase. There are no shots of Fletch falling down, no acting like an idiot, no Doctor Rosenpenis. The I.M. Fletchter of the book is a much darker character, a Vietnam vet who treats people like crap and throws cats out of seven story windows if the mood strikes him. He also shares a sleeping bag with a fifteen year old junkie on the beach.

Like the movie, the book is full of quotable dialogue. I eventually quit highlighting things and just tore through the book. It's very readable and probably 75% dialogue. It tipped to what was going on in both plot threads but I wasn't very far ahead of Fletch. I enjoyed it while I was reading it but not enough to grab another book in the series. Hell, the ending makes it seem like there shouldn't be any more books. I imagine McDonald caved to pressure to write more, though.

Fletch is a lot darker than the movie version but still an enjoyable read. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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