Monday, March 19, 2007

Best video games

I've played only one computer game worth playing: Baldur's Gate II. An actual plot, complex enough to be interesting, and real characters. Baldur's Gate I was okay, the expansions weren't too great. Baldur's Gate II, however, is awesome. Classic fantasy, but not hack-and-slash. The world felt real. The characters were real. The plot was interesting and exciting.
Any suggestions, and I'll look into them.

Over-rated games: Just about anything that's popular. Warcraft/Starcraft come to mind. Very addictive, but not all that great. Diablo II is even worse--it's not even addictive. Just boring. Hack-and-slash gets old real fast. At least Warcraft involves a lot of strategy.

Most over-rated series in fantasy

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
Most my friends like this series. I'll admit, I read the first few. Then all the characters became crappy, and I realized it was set up kind of like the war in Iraq--with no exit strategy. The first book in the series was released...wait for it...over seventeen years ago. I realize great literature takes time...but it also tends to be well written. Wheel of Time isn't. I went back to try to re-read the series at one point, and I just couldn't stomach it. There's better literature out there that demands my attention. There's just nothing in these books that deserves my time.

Terry Brooks
I enjoyed these as a teenager, but I can't stand them anymore. Any of them. Guess I like a little meat with my escapism. I don't care much about the characters, the plots are usually tired and sound rehashed, and the writing style sucks.

David Eddings
See my comments about Terry Brooks

Piers Anthony
See above.

Stephen King: Dark Tower series
See above.

Most other fantasy that people actually know about fits into this category (see my other list for the rare exceptions). Some of it (McCaffrey, etc.) I read just a little bit before putting it down, realizing that it's not all that great. It can be fun, but there's no real thought to it, and I come away thinking, "I just wasted how many hours on this?"

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Great Science Fiction and Fantasy

I just read some recent posts on another site, listing the 50 greatest sci-fi books of all time. So here's a (shorter) list:
1. JRR Tolkien: Lord of the Rings.
Amazing books. Yes, they can be a little slow. But really, I don't think anything from the 20th century can beat it. Start out with The Hobbit...not as well written, but a bit easier to read, and a good introduction to the series.

2. George RR Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire
A lot like Tolkien in that it's high fantasy, very well written, great characters, great plot. Different than Tolkien though--more graphic (so readers beware), more gritty, more realistic. This series will also become a classic...eventually. He needs to finish the series first though...

3. Robin Hobb: Assassin series
Good fantasy. None of the dorkiness of pop fantasy, and well-written and interesting. The Mad Ship series I didn't really care for, but the follow-up to the Assassin series was good. She's currently working on a fourth series...I'll probably wait until it's done to read it, but it's definitely on my list.

4. Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game series
Ender's Game is a great book. The rest of the series is more science fiction and more political games, but they're still good. Surprisingly, the follow-up series, Ender's Shadow, is also excellent. Fun to read, and the situations and characters provide a lot to think about.

5. Frank Herbert: Dune
The sequels just get stranger and stranger, but Dune is a great novel about life on a desert planet. Classic science fiction.

I'll update this list in the future. If you have any recommendations, let me know.