Reading Recap: Dinosaurs, Valve Software, and General Oddishness

Oddishness?

Google claims there are only 15,800 instances of the word “Oddishness” on the internet. I’ll leave it up for debate if this is a) an expected number, or b) grossly exaggerated. As previously noted, I’ve started spooling up my reading quota from the earlier production of roughly one book completed per month. I’ll start jabbering about them soon enough. For the first post, I’ll briefly go over the books I completed in the waning months of the recently departed year of 2011. After that, each book should get its own post. Unless I get lazy and start summing them up.

The Books

Dinosaur Comics: Dudes Already Know About Chickens

Ryan North

Dinosaur Comics aren’t the kind of thing that one can read for hours on end: after about ten consecutive strips, your brain will simply be too caught up in the sheer awesomeness of the previous comics it just read and completely shut down to any further thinking until it can clear the thought queue.

In all seriousness, when I need an intellectual stimulant with a heavy dose of humor, Dinosaur Comics is usually the answer. Read it; enjoy it. And my version has a hand-drawn T-Rex wearing a Starfleet Uniform (TNG-era, of course) from Ryan himself. It’s that awesome.

The World Without Us

Alan Weisman

Weisman is a journalist, and it shows. This book showed a lot of promise, but it often fell short of truly being great: it’s better described as a collection of short stories which focus on a different aspect of humanity’s influence on the environment. Just when each story starts to become interesting, he suddenly cuts it off and shifts to something completely different. It wasn’t a bad read and is an interesting thought experiment, but just don’t expect anything mind-blowing here.

The Sacrifice and Other Steam-Powered Stories

Valve Software

Valve is one of the few game companies that still cares about creating back story, exploratory texts, and creating a universe besides that presented during the course of the game. This book is the printed form of the work by their very talented graphic novel team.  Tracing the story of the four main “characters” from Left 4 Dead, The Sacrifice is a great zombie comic. Following it up is a series of short comics based off the Team Fortress 2 classes. I have nothing but unbridled rage for TF2, but these comics were entertaining, original, and ultimately kept me amused for far longer than the Hat Store Simulator TF2. Wrapping it up is Lab Rat, which was everything Portal 2 should have been, but wasn’t.

Literary Journals

I also pick up literary journals, collections, and magazines. Occasionally I’ll talk about exceptional stories or poems. Most aren’t available online, and I’m more than willing to let you borrow my copy to read! Please! I promise they’re awesome stories!

The Seattle Review

Read this simply for the wonderful story Elegy on Kinderklavier by Arna Bontemps Hemenway. Seriously. It’s unflinchingly human. Do it. Do it now.

McSweeney’s 38

The JPEG by Rachel B. Glaser is the standout here. It’s not very long, but explores friendships, cellphone contacts, and what it means to be a social being in a technological society.

 

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