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Wednesday, June 27 12:00 AM ET

BBspot Mailbag

Now you too can enjoy my Inbox without the annoying spam. Every week I get some amazing e-mail. Some amazing because of the sheer cluelessness of the sender, some because of the time and energy that went into crafting them and some are just simply amazing.


BBelievers

Yet another person who didn't read the disclaimer about the Nigerian Billionaire...

From: Alan
Date: Jun 26, 2007 2:58 AM
Subject: looking for a contact address for Esenam Ayele
To: briggsb@bbspot.com

mr briggs @bspot.com can you give me a contact e-mail address or an snail
mail address for Esenam Ayele

Alan
<address snipped>
<phone number snipped>

or <email snipped>

I'm always surprised by the willingness of people to give out their contact information to total strangers.


The Wheel that Sharpens the Sword

Nothing like series of fantasy books to get the BBspotters emailing me. I received plenty of email on the Sword of Truth and Wheel of Time series. Here's a sampling...

From: Kim
Date: Jun 20, 2007 3:52 AM
Subject: Re: Ugh
To: briggsb@bbspot.com

I agree when it comes to Wheel of time, there is nothing happening for ages between 50 pages of INSANE action. I've gotten through all of them on pure spite. book 9 actually has a lot happening suddenly, but book 8 was almost without action at all, an book 10! darn if I can find anything in there that isn't about troops moving about avoiding each other..

When it comes to Sword of truth though, I completely disagree. All of those books are good. Very good. each time I sit down to read one i get sucked in, and and I wake up three days later when I'm finished. I think they all are different enough to make it interesting, intense enough to keep you on the hook, and with such a bunch of entertaining heroes (whom, unfortunately, occasionally gets killed) put into such "slight predicaments" ( put there halfway by fixing the previous problem (probably this trend of which he speaks)) that it is very unlikely anybody will survive. Personally I fin this the most interesting part. That may be why book 4 is actually my favorite while Jonathan ended his reading right there.

Discussion on the books has moved to the BBoard.

From: Jeff
Date: Jun 20, 2007 7:42 AM
Subject: Sword of Truth
To: Brian Briggs

Actually, don't avoid the series entirely. Read just the first one, it's really good. The rest's crap, but the first one actually has some original ideas. The rest is just rehashed crap.

And...

From: Maurice
Date: Jun 20, 2007 10:08 AM
Subject: Other series to avoid...
To: Brian Briggs <briggsb@bbspot.com>

If you haven't read any of the Dune books yet, I'd steer clear of anything past number 3 (Children of Dune). The first three were pretty good, in my opinion. After that it starts to go downhill fast, particularly when Frank Herbert died and his son started writing the books.

In the fantasy realm, I'd also not recommend the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. Unless you're in to S&M, the first book "Wizard's First Rule" is going to make you want to skip through about a hundred pages. Having the main character become someone's bitch by way of a medieval dominatrix isn't my idea of heroics. Judging from the fact that Goodkind is a best-seller I guess I'm in the minority on that one.

I also do not recommend The Rune Lords series by David Wolverton (sometimes credited as David Farland). The entire premise involves characters (both good guys and bad guys) stealing other people's abilities through the use of magic rune tattoos. I don't just mean their knowledge either. They steal good looks, intelligence, strength, whatever they feel like at the time. I guess it just bothered me that both the villains *and* the good guys did this. I expect my epic heroes to have a sense of decency. This is *fantasy* after all.

If you're in the mood for some relatively cheap, easy reads, the novels based on Star Trek: The Next Generation are actually not bad, believe it or not. The best thing is if you have a used book store around where you live (my personal favorite is Half Price Books) they'll sometimes bundle five or six of them together and sell them for very cheap. I picked up my last bundle for $4. You could do a lot worse.

And...

From: Eric
Date: Jun 20, 2007 12:16 PM
Subject: Sword of Truth, another unsolicited opinion
To: briggsb@bbspot.com

I'm not sure why the fellow in the mailbag criticizing the Sword of Truth series would touch a nerve, but I have to agree with him. He's right on the money with the exponentially declining quality of the books. I read the first eight, and by then I couldn't take anymore. I loved the first one, thought the second was good, and the third was decent. After that they enter a painful spiral of self-destruction, rapidly changing from the cleverly written and wonderfully creative works of a talented author to the contrived, formulaic product of a hack trying to milk as much cash from the characters as he can. "Here's my next manuscript, boss, where's my paycheck?" If I didn't know better, I'd swear Terry Goodkind developed a massive brain tumor, or became an alcoholic or something.

Worse than that, though, they seemed to me to be getting more and more transparently political, an allegorical soap-box for a deluded right-winger to oh-so-very-subtly (that's sarcasm) defend idiotic neocon policies with made-up fictional scenarios. The eighth book, /Naked Empire/, could just as easily have been titled "My Defense of the Iraq War."

If you're planning to crack into the series, my advice is to read the first two, and maybe the third and fourth if you have nothing else on your reading list. Go any further than that, and you should expect to feel disillusioned and cheated.

Finally...

From: Kristian
Date: Jun 20, 2007 9:46 AM
Subject: Wheel of Time
To: briggsb@bbspot.com

Long time BBspot fan here – I’m a faithful reader since 5+ years.

Just wanted to share my views on the Wheel of Time series. I’m sorry you didn’t like it and don’t want to read on; I was totally hooked on it as soon as I started. IMO the first 5 books are awesome, then the quality drops drastically for about 3 books before getting better again. For me it was amazing that the book could go on for dozens of pages, be totally riveting, and the only thing that really happened was that some guys walked down a lonely country road. But if you only thought the first one was so-so then it’s not really any point in going on to the second book. No way you are going to get through a 10+ book series if you only think it is so-so, it would just be a chore.

But if you like sci-fi, and who doesn’t, I can warmly recommend Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. The wiki entry is here. It is a sci-fi detective story in a hardboiled noir setting. It is one of the best books I have read in many years, and a debut at that. But as always YMMV.


Metric Map

I put up a link to a map that showed the countries that still haven't converted to using the metric system. One BBspotters wrote in with a slight correction to the map...

From: Arthur
Date: Jun 20, 2007 6:15 PM
Subject: Metric Map
To: briggsb@bbspot.com

Just a wee nitpick, not that there's anything you can do about it since it's a link from your site and not actual content on your site; The UK hasn't exactly adopted the metric system. Sure, we measure short distances in meters, centimeters and millimeters, but our road signs are still marked in miles, not kilometers, and our cars' speedos are measured in MPH and not KPH. We buy petrol/gas in litres, but only since recently, but we buy milk and beer in pints. Hell, Europe will have to prise my pint glass from my cold, dead hand, though ironically I prefer to measure things in CM. Also, potheads still buy by the ounce, quarter and eighth. It's bloody odd, it's dysfunctional, and strangely representative of the contradictory nature of British life.

Just thought you might be interested/amused. We always take the mickey out of America for insisting on using an overly complicated and outmoded system of measurement but frankly we couldn't be much more odd about it if we tried...


Weekly Limerick

The winner of the 2003 and 2006 Geek Limerick contest has volunteered to write a weekly limerick for BBspot...

From: Seth

At Six Flags, a young girl nearly died,
When her legs in a cable got tied.

 Thus de-feeted, she'll bear
 Circumstance more unfair:
She's now too short to go on the ride.

 

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