Inspired by Siskoid’s Blog of Geekery, Geekly roundup, rather than a weekly update I’ll try to post a partial monthly summary. If nothing else it will point out they I jump around all over the place – and my tastes are somewhat eclectic
Look Me in the Eye: My life with Asperger’s
by John Elder Robison (2007)
“Look Me in the Eye” is the moving, darkly funny story of growing up with Asperger’s at a time when the diagnosis simply didn’t exist. A born storyteller, Robison takes you inside the head of a boy whom teachers and other adults regarded as “defective, ” who could not avail himself of KISS’s endless supply ofgroupies, and who still has a peculiar aversion to using people’s given names (he calls his wife “Unit Two”).
I really enjoyed reading this book. Although John is not your average ‘aspergian’ the memoirs give an inside view of his life journey, and changes in his outlook over his lifetime. The trade off over time between his early savant type behaviours and his social abilities later in life were an interesting insight. Besides I saw those KISS guitars in concert, how could you not like reading about their creation!
Verdict: A good read. Don’t treat this book as the definitive work on Aspergers, treat it as a piece of the puzzle.
Thin White Line
by Andy Cave (2008)
‘Thin White Line’ is the sequel to ‘Learning to Breathe’, Andy Cave’s bestselling debut book and winner of both the prestigious Boardman Tasker Prize and the Adventure Travel Award at the Banff International Festival. In 1997, Andy Cave returned from the Himalayas, having climbed the stupendous north face of Changabang but losing his friend and climbing partner in the process. Traumatized by the savage ordeal, he must examine his relationship with the mountains that have defined his life so far. Will he have the courage to undertake such a challenge again? Does he want to?’Thin White Line’ charts his struggle towards finding an answer.
Yet another book from my unread mountaineering pile Andy Cave takes us through his recovery after Changabang to his return to mountaineering. This is a book giving a glimpse into ‘why’ sane humans take risks on mountains, and other extreme sports.
Verdict: A good read for those already interested in the mountains, a good insight for those who don’t yet know they are into the mountains.
Serenity: Those left behind
by Dark Horse Comics (2006)
Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and scribe of Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men, unveils a previously unknown chapter in the lives of his favorite band of space brigands in this comics prequel of the Serenity feature film, the big-budget follow-up to Whedon’s cult-hit TV show Firefly.
I tried to purchase this one via Amazon for a Christmas present, unfortunately even though I ordered early they were unable to ship me a copy so when I saw it on the sales table at Minotaur I grabbed a copy. Now she-who-must-be-obeyed likes Serenity/Firefly almost as much as chocolate (I said almost!) So this book was quickly devoured and then I was allowed to read it.
I think the story arc was a little too short … but it does give us some understanding/bridging between the Firefly series and the Serenity movie. Verdict: One for the fans.
Doctor Who (Series 1)
Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper bring the Doctor back to our screens in this complete first series box set.
Now that the kids are enjoying watch Doctor Who we have gone back to the start and restarted watching Doctor Who from Series 1. Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor is very different to David Tennant’s 10th Doctor but thanks to the bridging presence of Rose (Billie Piper) the youngsters soon settled in behind the couch to catch up with the episodes they had not seen previously.
Verdict: It’s Dr Who, ’nuff said
Sarah Jane Adventures (Season 1)
Sarah Jane Smith’s life back on Earth is often just as mysterious, exciting and dangerous as exploring time and space in the TARDIS. Together with her new young friends, Maria and Clyde, and her newly adopted, genetically engineered son Luke, Sarah Jane comes face to face with a whole host of evil alien monsters with unearthly plans for the human race.
Another Dr Who spin off. Where Torchwood aims for an older audience than the Dr Who audience, the Sarah Jane Adventures aims for a younger audience. The kids had enjoyed the Big Finish, and BBC audio stories we snapped up this box set as soon as it was available.
Verdict: We better have season 2 released down under pretty soon or I’ll need riot gear!
Farscape (Season 1)
Farscape is one of the most original and creative genre series in recent history. American financed and Australian produced Farscape is a complex show filled with wild plots, elaborate aliens (through the use of animatronics, puppets, and prosthetics), impressive CGI, the odd bit of sex and some very Australian sense of humour. It is this mix that sets Farscape apart, and makes the show sheer fun to watch. The complexity of the show is one of its greatest strengths, and perhaps it’s greatest flaw. The complex nature of the plot, especially in latter seasons, means that it is not the easiest show to watch. It takes a number of episodes before you fully appreciate the quality of the show and the characters. For this reason Farscape was never really given a chance by Channel Nine in Australia to build an audience: it was originally screened in prime-time for a few episodes before being scheduled against the 2000 Olympics and then eventually discarded in the traditional late-night genre-series time slot. Consequently although filmed in Sydney with Australian actors, directors, writers and crew, Farscape remains largely unknown here. — DVD Bits
Having eaten through Firefly and Serenity very quickly during the end of last year I was looking for a replacement Sci-Fi series to kick back and watch with she-who-must-be-obeyed. I hadn’t remembered all that much about this series apart from the unpredictable late night time slots (the bane of many a Sci-Fi series) but the $25 price tag for a 6 disc series seemed too good to pass up. We are now half way into series 1 and the munchikins have started watching as well.
Verdict: A good find. It will be interesting to see how much the quality varies over the seasons.
Band of Brothers
Special Edition (6 Disc Box Set)
Based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s nonfiction bestseller, BAND OF BROTHERS tells the story of Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army. Starting with their rigorous training in Georgia in 1942, it recounts the achievements of the elite rifle company from D-Day to the fall of Nazi Germany and the surrender of Japan.
BAND OF BROTHERS has received numerous awards including a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television, a Peabody Award for Best Miniseries and has been nominated for 19 Emmy Awards® including Outstanding Miniseries, Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special and Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special.
I had been trying to keep up with this series during its free to air broadcast but gave up as a bad joke and picked up the box set.
Verdict: You all know its good. And I don’t have to run the gauntlet of trying to find it on free to air
Sherlock Holmes – The Last Act
Big Finish (2009)
Being a big Sherlock Holmes fan, especially the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce radio plays, I skipped the movie and went for the Big Finish Sherlock Holmes series 1.01 Sherlock Holmes – The Last Act.
It is 1916 and Sherlock Holmes has returned to his rooms in Baker Street after attending the funeral of his long time associate, Dr John H. Watson. Holmes reflects on the old days and comes to realise that not only was there so much that he had shared with Watson in his lifetime but also there was so much that he had not revealed to him: things he had kept hidden, including his deep affection for his friend. Imagining that Watson is present, Holmes addresses this failing and touches on aspects of past cases and the various characters he encountered during his investigations, including ‘The Woman’ Irene Adler and of course Professor Moriarty.
Holmes delves deeper into the darker aspects of his own history, revealing at last a shocking secret. Realising now how lonely and isolated he is without his old comrade, adrift in a new modern and war-ravaged age, he comes to wonder whether, like Watson, he too has come to the end of his time…
Verdict: An enjoyable audio play with a twist. I think that I shall continue with the rest of this season.
* Kill the Monsters * Steal the Treasure * Stab Your Buddy *
A card game by Steve Jackson Games, which the kids described in the game shop as too silly. It didn’t take them too long to get into the swing of things with some pretty serious dungeon delving occurring around the coffee table. I personally like the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment, and although it is funny when someone is killed by the Potted Plant (as long as it is not you) the Plutonium Dragon does invoke calls of ‘run away’.
Verdict: Silly, light hearted, addictive – fun