Dreamer: A Different Flavor for Brandon Sanderson

This was an interesting (little) piece from Brandon Sanderson. I don’t really think of Sanderson’s books as being overtly moral. We watch his protagonists struggle with situations that are truly pretty grim, but through it all we kind of have a feeling of which way north is. Even if it gets a little bit fuzzy sometimes.

And for all that we know which way is north, it never feels forced or belligerent. It’s not shouting in the front row but somewhere in the back. Hidden but we know it is there and it is reassuring.

Dreamer seems to be missing this quality.

We are so wrapped up in the action of this piece that even though we realize the consequences of the game we’re playing (there are a few lines that make it pretty explicit), we have to work at being horrified by them. We want Dreamer to catch Phi. We want Dreamer to win, even though the cost for doing so is quite high for everyone except Dreamer and Phi.

All in all it’s a bit disorienting. But good disorienting? What I can pin down is that I’m very impressed that I’m able to think/write this much about such a short story. After all, it was only 12 pages. I think that means it was good. ūüôā

Review of Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson

snapshotEnjoyable. I will probably look into Reckoners series now (like I wasn’t going to already). I think maybe he tried to do a little too much at the end but the story was still very good.

Snapshot is basically a detective story. I occasionally read detective stories (Ok that’s a lie. Apparently I’ve read a lot) and enjoy them though my bag is much more in the SF and Fantasy realm. Indeed I’ve read a few SFF stories that are basically just detective novels (with all the bad writing and misogyny) set in a science fiction or fantastic world. These types of stories are often disappointing as we’re not progressing in either genre. Snapshot does not feel this way to me. If anything it is a detective story with one fantastical (SF?) element: the Snapshot.

As such the expectations being met, broken, or subverted are unique to detective stories. His effort here is not simply: “Look! I mashed two genres together!”. But it seems he really wanted to add something to the detective genre and I feel he’s done that to an extent.

Perhaps what was showcased the most for me was Sanderson’s ability to write characters. They always seem incredibly real and I enjoy the little quirks he gives them to make them feel that way. Snapshot is no exception. You get to witness an incredible series of events that happen to very likable (well at the very least very sympathetic) people. I wouldn’t ask for more.

Please feel free to comment your thoughts, impressions, praise, or random blatherings. I’m always up for talking Brandon Sanderson.

Thinking way too much about The Rithmatist

There’s a blurb on the back cover of this book. It says:

There are very few authors about whom I can say, without a doubt, that I will read every single book they ever write. Brandon Sanderson is a member of that club. He’s brilliant and has an imagination I’ve only seen in the likes of Stephen King and J. K. Rowling.” — James Dashner

Trying to get all artsy with a pic of the cover

Trying to get all artsy with a pic of the cover

I¬†cannot agree more. I won’t read every book by Stephen King. I won’t even try. I couldn’t even remember who the other author was when typing the rough draft of this post (a little embarrassed now to see it was J. K. Rowling). Certainly I won’t read all of¬†her books (although I’m 7 for 8 right now). But Brandon Sanderson stands apart.

It seems cliched to say that Sanderson’s writing envelopes you as you read. That he builds worlds that surround you and bring you out of the day-to-day into something wonderful and fantastic. But that’s what they do. The Rithmatist is no different. I wonder what new revelations will await me in the next chapter even as I’m reveling in the discoveries of the¬†current one. What really happened in that last scene? Was he hinting at something in that last line? How is this going to play out?¬†And the detail with which each story is constructed is sublime. I read Sanderson and feel like every story fits its setting perfectly. That one could not exist without the other. Perfectly intertwined.

But it makes me wonder about the world Sanderson himself lives in. Does he walk around with dotted arcs dancing across his line of sight, connecting bits of metal in a room, as if he’s wearing some kind of allomantic heads up display (might be a cool app idea for Google Glass)? Does he imagine chalk lines moving across the floor in an attempt to penetrate the circles we surround ourselves in? ¬†Can he close one eye and see the same dotted lines and chalked circles, instead connecting countries and presidents as empires rise and fall. If we could somehow tap into this stream of conscious would we see the world like everyone else or would we see ¬†a world complete and utterly foreign, with only shades and vague outlines of the familiar, not entirely unlike the map we see behind the cover of The Rithmatist.

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I think I like this one better

Then I wonder about my own world view. Can a foreign observer read my posts and detect the path that has made me the man I am today? Would they be even remotely right? Perhaps my training as a musician continues to shape the way I view the world though I’ve hardly struck a note in the last year (I’ll admit my training in writing certainly allowed me to assign meaning to my music through this next metaphor)? There is a part of me that thrives upon routine. Enjoys repeatable tasks and choices which upon subtle variations and ornaments build to create something beautiful. But also, I have a great need to experience new events completely and utterly different from that which has come before. A need for improvisation. I’ve often thought about my writing as mutually exclusive from my music which is again separate from my work. However, now I wonder if all of these aspects couldn’t simply be divisions in a larger work. My training in music might form the exposition, while my writing might be something of a developmental section (I’d certainly say I’ve been developing recently) and perhaps the recapitulation is still to come in which elements from both previous segments combine to finish the work. One can only hope.

I think¬†The Rithmatist¬†was supposed to be Young Adult, which encompasses and age range of maybe 13-19 (from what I’ve been able to tell), but here I am, well on my way to turning 23 and the novel has made me think through all of that. Sanderson doesn’t mess around.

The Rithmatist is no exception.

If you haven’t already, go and read it. I’d be interested to see what it has to offer you regardless of age. I strongly believe that this book has something in it for everyone. Or perhaps my commute in the morning is too long. Either way, I think the fact that I’m still thinking about it, is a tribute to its excellence.

I think that’s enough for now. Bye all.

PS: Apparently there is a Trailer for the book. I’m not sure what I think about this but here it is:

Vigor Reborn!! New Spring Inspires New Motivation to Finish the Wheel of Time

It has been approximately one year since I last picked up a Wheel of Time novel. Approximately 5 years since I picked up Eye of the World, and I’ll say I was feeling a little worn out. After 7 books which each had to have had at least 500+ pages, I hit reader’s wall (if runners can hit a wall during a marathon I think so should readers. Also thank god WoT isn’t 26 volumes.)

The last I heard from Rand al Thor he was fighting some raged out Forsaken in Shadar Logoth and taking all of the appropriate amount of wounds before heroing his way to victory! As for Egwene, Mat, Perrin, and the host of other characters? I can’t really remember, it’s been a year after all. So after finishing Crown of Swords, I decided it was time to take a break from the Wheel of Time. All things considered, it wasn’t going anywhere and there were still some more books to be written until the concluding work. As Robert Jordan has made abundantly clear: there are no endings in the Wheel of Time . . .

Little did I realize that my destiny was not my own. The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills and it doesn’t give a fuck how many pages you’ve already read, you’re gonna read some more and dammit you’re gonna enjoy it!

I was part of the pattern.

About a month ago, I began the process of interviewing for a new job at a library (I won’t say which to protect the innocent? Or maybe the guilty). I knew some of the people who worked there because I had worked there previously. I went in to visit one of my old supervisors and BEHOLD!!! There was a Wheel of Time Novel sitting on her desk. I talked with her politely for probably an hour, all the while attempting not to look at the cover which I instantly recognized as WoT by its artwork. I didn’t want to know which volume it was. I had put all that behind me. Finally I couldn’t bear it any longer. I had to know which one she was reading.

At this point she told me promptly that she wasn’t reading it at all. It was an extra copy that somebody had returned to the library by mistake. (Destiny?) And if I wanted it, it was mine no questions asked and that I should probably take it otherwise it would thrown out because the library didn’t have the rights to lend it (It’s a trap!!). I figured I could walk away. Likely it was one that I had already read, or one which was several volumes away so I would likely never get to it. However, it was New Spring! The prequel which I didn’t even know existed and had to look up on the internet to make sure was legitimate. It was and it is.

I put the novel in my backpack and eventually it made it to my bookshelf where I assumed it would collect dust until Tarmon Gai’don. Weeks passed. I got the job. Re-opened my old work email account which I hadn’t checked in forever. Apparently I was still receiving emails from Tor and they were getting super excited about A Memory of Light which is supposed to be released tonight! (Don’t think I don’t see the irony in finally finding the time to do this post tonight, on the night of the launch party. Coincidence? The Wheel weaves). Anyway, I began to miss Rand, and Egwene, and Mat and everybody else. I began to miss Robert Jordan, for whom Tor produced a series of videos telling of his life and of the life of the series.

Then I began reading Leigh Butler’s non spoiler post and her other post about what Wheel of Time has meant for so many of its fans. I began to get sentimental. There was no way I wasn’t going to at least try to finish this series now. But I was worried. What if I started the series again and it was too much? Could I take another disappointment? After all, I felt scorned. Used up. Could I really do it all again? That is when I remembered New Spring. Just sitting there on my shelf, waiting to be read.

So I took the novel off the shelf devoured it. It was . . . exactly what I needed! Certainly a new spring of rejuvenation for the series when I felt I could not continue. (I supposed I should try to make another reference to running a marathon here but . . .Eh)

It tells of Moiraine bonding Lan as her warder, and of how she finds herself on to the search for the Dragon Reborn, and gives you some of those little tid bits you’ve been wondering about with her and Siuan. And of course, it is a perfect example of the type of writing style which Jordan employs and I am sure Sanderson has continued (It’s Sanderson’s fault I’m even reading these books. Why was Mistborn so good!?). But most of all . . . it was short! And self-contained. I can read other books between now and whenever I pick up the next Wheel of Time.

But despite everything, I will be buying The Path of Daggers soon, and will begin riding this pony once again. Or should I say cracked out bitchin warhorse? I don’t know.

Go readers and read! And read New Spring.