Monthly Archives: September 2008

When Final Fantasy VII was first released in 1996, it rocked the world of videogames by integrating CG cuts scenes and gameplay in a way that blew the minds of millions of little prepubescent kids. It lit the RPG on fire and set the bar for every future game of the genre.

Well acquainted with RPGs at the time, I was of an older generation of gamer, having weaned myself on classics such as Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI and Secret of Mana. Still, my little 13-year-old world was rocked just as hard as any other. I still remember the day of its release, rushing over to my friend’s house and watching as he played through the first two hours. I was enchanted and knew I had to have one. Somehow I was able to convince my father to buy me not only the game, but the system to play it on.
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Well, it looks like we are finally out of the Czech Republic and into Slovakia. Bratislava, to be exact.

First though, you should hear about our experience getting out of Prague…. The day before we were supposed to leave, we made sure to get our ticket out of town. How smart are we? Only problem is that we assumed we would be leaving from the same station we bought our ticket at… yeah, not so much. So, with only 20 minutes until our train left, we had to speed it hard across the city to the other train station! We made it, though, and somehow managed to find two seats on the jampacked train. Off we were to Bratislava.

Almost as soon as we arrived in the city, we realized we were really going to like the place! We checked into our Hostel, which is nice, and took to wandering the streets of Bratislava. We basically fell in love. The narrow, twisting streets of the Old Town just ooze charm (all pedestrianized, which we love) and once again I had his camera out and was clicking like mad. The night was warm, the people were nice and the mood was much more relaxed than Prague. Certainly a town up our alley.
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Where to start?

At the beginning, I suppose. The flight from Vancouver was good, got into the air without a hitch and the flight was comfortable (except for the over-ripe Dutch woman beside my girlfriend who couldn’t help but take up all the space she paid for… plus half of my girlfriend’s.) Getting off the plane was interesting, though. When we arrived in Schipol airport, we couldn’t help but notice all the dozens of guards armed with machine gun. I suppose that’s what happens, though, when you arrive in a westernized country on September 11th. Despite the guards, we arrived safe and sound… to find the city of Amsterdam taking a beating from a torrential downpour!
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Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks

Use of Weapons

AuthorIain M. Banks

Pages: 512 pages
Publisher: Orbit Books
Release Date: Feb. 1st, 1990
ISBN-10: 0316030570
ISBN-13: 978-0316030571

It had always seemed to him that the ideal man was either a soldier or a poet, and so, having spent most of his years being one of those – to him – polar opposites, he determined to attempt to turn his life around and become the other.

So opens Chapter VI of Use of Weapons a militaristic Science Fiction novel that many consider to be one of Iain M. Banks’ best works. Coincidentally, this passage also very accurately describes Banks as both a writer and a storyteller.

Use of Weapons balances the fine line between being a poetically over-complicated piece of literature and a frenetic tale of revenge and warfare. The tale often hops back and forth between the two styles and with each change I found myself jarred out of the experience. Part of this is the result of the actual structure of the story, which is, in many ways, a short story collection wrapped around a longer piece of fiction, each short story adding to the longer overall narrative.
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Being a strict narccisist, I just thought some of you might be interested in a couple of links from around the web concerning A Dribble of Ink.

The first is another edition of Grasping for the Wind‘s ‘Ask the Bloggers’ series of articles. This time around John asks us about maps:

Should SF&F books have maps included for the readers? Are there any special conditions when they should or should not? Was there ever a book you wished had map that didn’t? Or vice versa?

Certainly an interesting bevvy of responses, all of which can be found HERE.

The second is a great article by Ana and Thea (the girls behind The Book Smugglers, which you should check out, if you haven’t already!) about the rise of online book reviews and the impact it’s having on print reviews.

Not only do they have a few nice words for A Dribble of Ink, but it’s a damn good article in its own right! You can find it HERE.