Oz Comic Con 2014: Popping the Cherry

Hello, my name is Shaun and I am a closet comic book fan. Why is that, maybe because I took an immediate shining to imagery, chasing stuff by Jim Lee, Michael Turner, John Romita Jr, Frank Miller, Greg Horn, Joe Quesada or Bryan Hitch to name a few. A lot of that was mainly due to aesthetics, the comic was usually a good read because top talent more often than not is paired with great writers like Mark Millar or Jeph Loeb but I reveled in the beauty of the frames and intricate detail the penciller puts into each scene, they were never lazy or ambiguous, always fully realising shots of a moment in time.
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Love books – Ender’s Game and then Shadow

I admit this book thing was a small hobby of mine in the past. I read a fair bit in high school and then stopped to play games and pursue the more frivolous things in life. I missed a lot it seems so to make up for lost time I got that Kindle and I started going at whatever was interesting.

This past week I have been devouring both Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow leading up to the theatrical release coming soon starring Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford. Let’s start with the genesis of it all, the book that launched an armada:

Ender’s Game
Everyone must have read this book already, I have heard its name and seen the old school 70’s retro future covers and re-prints when I look for the best sci-fi books of our time, wasn’t interested. I looked at the cover and wondered whether this retro vision of the future would even be valid for the iPhone/Pod generation, would the tech be pong to our GTA? Only one thing for it, read it and find out… without referring to Wikipedia for the plot lines. Cover to cover I was engrossed in a fantastic story with depth of character and the sights and smells of the world Orson Scott Card created. Throughout we’re allowed into the mind of a child directed to become the ultimate commander, in charge of forces destined to halt the end of civilisation as he and other humans knew it. It almost felt like I was in Ender’s shoes and shouldering the burden of the human race’s survival, feeling the massive isolation and I came away from each reading session wondering how he was going to continue, what would come next and cheering at the triumphs while sharing the lows. It was a rollercoaster of a ride and I wasn’t just idle, I was invested.

I read at night, usually before bed with the covers on and my pillow supporting the Paperwhite above my head. Why I told you this is because stimulus like a book (for me anyway) seeds dreams and something I never had before was in-between-episodes of my mind filling in other parts of the story from the time I stopped reading. The new information is totally fictitious and based purely on what I thought at the time of reading but I wonder if anyone else got that? I think the richness of the world in the book helped to allow for more thought provocation and therefore a continuation? it’s brilliant and I could not give a book higher praise so much as to say ‘it lives on’. Read it to engross yourself in a way of life so distant from our own, it’s just inconceivable that us as children would be put through such stress and mental anguish at the same time creating amazing triumph through adversity. Play to win completely.

Ender’s Shadow
This novel was written quite some time after Ender’s Game and it chronicles the other character, Bean. Bean is also a great mind like Ender Wiggin however his speciality is intelligence far beyond a normal human being. he is able to record mentally all details of things he sees and hears with the ability to cue any parts of the information recorded, learn at speed and utilise information gathered effectively. Perfect learning and analytical machine shaped like a small 4 year-old boy. This story is the opposite of Ender’s, Bean is an orphan living on the streets of Rotterdam and his life is of poverty, hunger and desperation. All this has developed in him an inherent mistrust of people around him to the point of his demeanor being cold. What ensues is a change in heart for the brilliant but cold, calculating Bean into a true friend to a classmate and confidant even to the increasingly isolated Ender Wiggin. This isn’t pure supporting character material either, Bean is truly given his chance to shine and Ender in this instance takes a backseat as the wunderkind Bean yearns to be but at the same time tries desperately to not imitate. Bean has his own struggles, his own story of how he came to exist and survive when all the odds were stacked against him. The book really fleshed out the world of Ender’s Game even further with the things that Ender himself didn’t see and shows us the ‘behind-the scenes’ journey of the supporting cast through Bean’s eyes. Never once did it fail to inspire and excite, survive intelligently.

Ok now, admission time. I read these two books because of what I heard about the series and they did not disappoint. There are a few more books to go but will it be the same with the characters all grown up? There’s something really crazy about kids who can do these amazing things, think and talk like they do.

You’re right, I should give it a go.

Jack Reacher: Retrospective (kind of)

No it’s not a new book from Lee Child, instead it’s a bit of a retrospective view to the last 3 books I have just read. If you’re looking to start on the Jack Reacher saga then my recommendation is to get right into it. It’s a mix of heart-stopping action and tight tense moments where you just know the baddie has the upper hand but our good friend Jack is about to deliver the old one-two but in a way you didn’t expect.

For those who don’t know Jack then you need an introduction. He doesn’t talk much however when he stops shrugging his wide-shoulders he only says what he means and means what he says. Talk is a great way to convey a plan or buy a ticket but other things are better left unsaid or foolishly blabbered by the guy with the crap moral compass. Jack was born on an American Army base in Germany and his life from that point was simply moving from post to post with his Marine father and french mother. He’s been all over the world and never sat more than a semester in any particular school. When he graduated he joined the Military Police Corps and proceeded to do the exact same thing as his dad did by being posted all over the world at the same time becoming a sharp and highly respected Captain. One of the more interesting tidbits was information he shared with a police detective in the first novel “Killing Floor”, (and i am paraphrasing) was that the detective deals with citizens where as he dealt with trained killers, for any training the military had he (Reacher) had to be better than them to allow him to deal with them.

I won’t say that the stories are predictable because the elements are always different and what I really love is character development. Each character is intricately detailed and alive in your mind. That being said Jack the man himself is really just the tool to tell the story, I’ve been riding shotgun on his adventures for a few months now but I still feel like I don’t really know him yet he’s an old friend and travelling companion, albeit a very capable and dangerous one for the evil baddie bent on doing harm.

If you like:
– Doing anonymous things and minding your own business
– Meeting beautiful strangers while being anonymous or simply due to your investigative spirit
– Getting in trouble with baddies just because you met the beautiful stranger
– Getting in more trouble figuring out what the baddie’s deal is al the while witnessing some pretty gruesome ends of secondary characters
– Sex with beautiful stranger
– Annoying the heck out of the baddie by either pretending to side with or outsmarting them at their own game
– Killing baddies (Graphically) often with a fair amount of bloodshed, you being badass get hurt too (think John McClane)
– Sharing intimate moment where the beautiful stranger professes a deep seated connection and possible love
– Getting on you merry way because you are Jack Reacher and no matter how beautiful or amazing or connected you are to the girl, you never stay in one place very long and you have places to explore and no schedule to follow so don’t stop moving.

Right up there is the basic premise but don’t think it’s just the same story written over again. We all do the same thing everyday and if our lives were half as interesting as Jack’s then you could say it was a life fulfilled.