Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

The Zombie Survival Guide

The Zombie Survival GuideThe Zombie Survival Guide is the first zombie book by author and screenwriter Max Brooks. A lot of zombie fiction is either done poorly or in a silly way. That is the key difference between the way Max Brooks does zombies; you never feel like you are dealing with silly fictional monsters, with Max Brooks zombies are a serious issue and a matter not to be taken lightly. I recently finished reading the The Zombie Survival Guide and have to say that it is another fantastic Max Brooks novel. His second book titled World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War was also fantastic. I really hope he writes more in the future.

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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarI finally finished reading World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. I haven’t had as much time to read lately, but I sat down earlier this morning and decided to finish it.

The book title may sound silly, and if you have read The Zombie Survival Guide by Brooks you may even be expecting some humour, but you will find very little in this book. This is a much more serious and tragic novel about a writer who is chronicling a factual book about the Zombie outbreak 10 years after it has occurred. This writer also put together the official UN reports and felt that he needed to write a more human account of the tale.

Without giving too much away, the entire book is made up of short chapters sometimes only a few pages long chronicling the lives of individuals and their experiences throughout the Zombie War. The book is fantastic, and there are plans to turn it into a motion picture. Every story is well thought out and most of them are very believable and convincing.

If you have ever watched a Zombie movie or even read Zombie books, usually they are fairly hokey or they deal with one small isolated situation like a mall or even a city. World War Z covers the entire spectrum of the planet and many different scenarios. The book delves right into the politics and how badly many governments screwed up, but it also covers many other situations. Ever wondered what would happen to the oceans during a worldwide Zombie outbreak, or the mad rush to flee cities? What about the internet addicted shut in who follows the entire outbreak from the illusional safety of his room in Tokyo right up until the Zombies knock on his door? What about someone who is blind with no one to help them during the chaos. The book covers many personal stories like these.

This is every Zombie fans must read book and most have probably already read it by now, but because it’s so different from the run of the mill Zombie genre, I think many non-Zombie fans will really enjoy this book too. I guess it’s classified as horror, but it’s really not that scary and actually far more emotionally tragic.

Watch the Skies – New Tor Science fiction site and Free e-books!

Tor is opening up a new website soon. Tor is a book publisher with a lot of great Science Fiction titles. Right now you can sign up for their newsletter which will have free e-book downloads.

“Once you register, you’ll receive our newsletter and a link to download a digital book. And you’ll receive a link to another new book every week.”

This cool program will end once their new site launches, but you get to keep the free e-books. Sounds like a good deal to me, and I’ve never read a book in e-format before.

Diary of the Dead

Being the huge Zombie Geek that I am, I had to post this late news. I knew George A. Romero was working on Diary of the Dead, but I didn’t really follow it or realize how far along it was, it’s scheduled for release this month on the 15th.

He has an official MySpace site up where you can get details on the film. Diary of the Dead was independently produced, but it will be released by Dimension Films. He’s also running a video contest where people can submit their own Zombie shorts which could be included in the final DVD release of the movie. I’ve checked a few out and some are pretty cool. He will be judging them himself, and said that he’s really hard to scare.

The movie was already played at the Toronto Film Festival, how do I miss these things. Anyway, check out the site. I’ll probably go and see this when it comes out and post my thoughts.

I’ll also be posting a review of the book I am currently reading World War Z, a fantastic book by Max Brooks, writer of the Zombe Survial Guide.

When is free not free? Dishonest and misleading advertising!

Free is not free pretty much always. Case in point: I usually stop by Blockbuster video every now and then to look at games, not because I would actually ever buy their over-priced new and used games, but because I’m a geek, and I pretty much stop at any store that sells games or gadgets just to get a quick fix of what’s new.

I saw the “free game when you trade in 4” all over the place like you usually do at Blockbuster. Then it said something like ask an associate for details. So I walk up and say how does the trade in work and can I use Wii games too; the guy says yes, you can trade them in. I don’t usually trade in my games, and I probably should do it sooner and more often since I’m usually left with a huge pile of worthless games I’ve finished. I’m a bit of a pack rat though. Anyway, I figured hey, why not.

So I scrounge up 4 games that I am pretty sure I’ll never play again and walk into the store and trade them in. The lady gives me a “trading agreement” to fill out and sign, and I do so. She then starts doing something on the computer and makes a call. Once I’m done filling out the agreement she tells me that none of my 360 games are accepted for this deal, they are not worth the minimum which was 14 dollars or something like that. I’m thinking wow, 14, add that up and it’s 56 dollars. Now if I were to bring in newer games the chances of me finding 4 that are worth 14 it’s highly unlikely, some might be 20 or more. Pretty much makes the deal useless since I could get more if I Just sold them separately.

Anyway, I’m not naive, I know that companies are out to make money, and I’m fine with that, I even wondered how Blockbuster could have such a great deal like this. Turns out they can’t, and that’s where I get annoyed. I’m so sick of misleading advertising. Huge posters saying 50% off all jeans and then in seven point font, new arrivals not included. Look people, it’s either a free game when I trade or it’s not, and the “ALL JEANS” means all jeans. If it’s not, stop trying to fool your customers, it only angers them. Let’s just ignore the fact that trading 4 games kind of negates the term free! Last time I checked free didn’t mean you had to give something in return, but I digress.

I know the small print, the misleading “ask a representative” or the all mighty tiny asterisk is suppose to clue us all in that something is amiss and make all well, but this just annoys me more, and when I get annoyed enough I usually complain about it to a lot of people and then avoid the company for awhile. I like honest companies, if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is, and the company isn’t worth wasting your time on. This is one of the reasons I’ve started shopping at smaller independent stores lately, in general I find them more human, but the jeans example was actually a small store, so there are always exceptions.

A similar issue with Indigo books made me switch to independent book retailers. I had one of those 25 dollar irewards cards that allow you to save 10%. Then Indigo had this super sale and I went to use my card and they said I couldn’t. Why? I paid for it. So basically if I shop the big sales I can’t use my card and they pocket 25 dollars. It even says on the card that it includes sales, but if you read the fine print terms & conditions it says “except during selected promotional periods”. No thanks, stop trying to rip us off, and don’t even get me started on expiring gift cards.

The Ender Quartet

I finished the final book in the Ender Quartet by Orson Scott Card over my vacation. I read the first three back to back and the final one a few weeks later. Wow is all I have to say, this is Science Fiction at its most epic. The books in order are Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind. Ender’s game is the intro to Ender’s life, one of the main characters and lays the foundation for future novels as the following three propel the story way into the future. Ender’s Game won the Hugo and Nebula for best novel and Speaker for the Dead also won the Hugo and Nebula for Best novel, no small feat.

As usual, I don’t want to give away anything, and I would strongly recommend avoiding reviews if you have not read the series. Just knowing that there are four books is enough, knowing anymore would give away far too much. If you feel like a fantastic journey into a world of memorable characters and vivid adventures then pick up these books, or just start with Ender’s Game. The books are really about what it is to be human, both the good, the bad and the horrible. Card leverages a lot of the stories from real history. Full of hope and sadness, these are a must read for any Science Fiction fan, and if you are not a fan of Science Fiction, don’t let that hold you back either.

The World Without Us

I was out picking up some clothes last night when I saw a large billboard with an advertisement for The World Without US. The ad really struck a chord with me and I walked up the street to the bookstore and bought it. This was so unlike me and even though I work on communications and advertisement media all day, I usually feel that they have little effect on ones decision to buy, at least with people like me. I guess this one worked, and I know that we are all affected by advertisements, some more so than others, but for me I usually tune out ads and I read a lot so I miss the billboards and bus ads.

Anyway, the book sounds great, but since I have not read it yet I will reserve comment until later. I hope to read it over my vacation next week.

Phytosphere book review

I recently finished reading Scott Mackay’s Phtyosphere. Without giving too much away the synopsis goes something like this.

Mackay has created a twist on the typical alien invasion. The world is fairly advanced and humanity has colonized the Moon, and Mars and has peppered the solar system with satellites. Aliens have also made contact and have been negotiating with the government for several about immigration rights to earth. The aliens claim to be non-violent, but after years of negotiations fail to accomplish what they want, they encrust the earth in a large dark green shroud, aka the Phytosphere which covers the earth in an eternal night.

In a race against time, two scientists, one on Earth and one on the Moon search for a way to destroy the Phytosphere and return sunlight to earth.

This book is an exhilarating read and was addictive right from the start. You just can’t put this book down. I am a huge fan of dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction and science fiction. This book’s got both in large supply as you follow the lives of the scientists and their families as they struggle to survive the anarchy that follows the darkness. Scott Mackay delivers one suspenseful impact after the next, and this is what keeps the pages turning as you sit on the edge of your seat throughout the book.

It is also pretty dark, so it may not appeal to everyone. Although for the most part not intensely graphic in its depictions, it illustrates the depravity and degradation of man under extremely harsh circumstances and it does this extremely well. We also get a healthy dose of Science Fiction and that’s a good thing.

I highly recommend this book. Check it out at Amazon

Visit Scott Mackay’s official site.