Category Archives: @ashertopia

Wee Free Men by Pratchett

I’ve been a fan of Pratchett’s from the time I read him for the first time; in fact a fan from page one. That book was Going Postal. Not only was it part social commentary and (a large) part comedy, but it was brilliantly written. When Moist finally gets the stone free from his cell it comes out with a “slightly inappropriate” twinkling noise. It’s been more than a decade and that scene is etched in my memory.

Wee Free Men
by Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins
July 2006

Since then, I’ve read many more of his books. The Colour of Magic and early books are good enough, but the guards and capitalism series are where I really latched on. I really wanted to read his last book – ah, that hit me in the feels just now – but I didn’t want to until I read the other Witch books with Tiffany Aching. So I started with this one.

It’s one of Pratchett’s children’s books. The difference, in my opinion so far, is that there isn’t as much commentary and even the hints about sexuality aren’t there. Otherwise, it’s still fun, comedic, adventurous and definitely worth reading. I’m looking forward to the next three so I can finally get to the final book. Looking forward and dreading.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Bullies by Shapiro

Book 17 of 2018: Bullies by Ben Shapiro. I’d read political books by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, (and I highly recommend this,) and historical memoirs, (like Booker T. Washington’s earlier this year, ) but never a political book by someone who hasn’t been in the White House or been that close to power, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Bullies
By Ben Shapiro
Simon aand Schuster
January 2013

The first thing I noticed was how dated this book was. It was published at the start of 2013, right after the second election of Barack Obama. So many of the characters named, people and organizations, are no longer in the news daily. And several controversies have been resolved, even if only because of time passed.

But the topics are still timely. You may not be Republican – and I include myself here – but the attacks and tactics Shapiro discusses are relevant today even more than they were five years ago. Free speech, the freedom of religion and the exercise of religious practice, and disagreeing agreeably are constantly under attack in the zeitgeist on college campuses and public square where speakers, especially non-far left speakers who toe the ideological neo Marxist line, are deplatformed, slandered and even attacked physically. The calls for thought control and speech control are shockingly “1984” but for some reason we are ignoring the past and seem doomed to repeat it.

I’m not ideologically aligned on several points that Shapiro espouses but I would never suggest he doesn’t have the right to express his opinion. And in the end, that’s why I read books like this or by ex- Presidents on both sides of the political spectrum. I find that most of them make some good points and I grow in respect and empathy for some people that I may not have agreed with previously. In fact, I still may not agree with them or perhaps what they did, but understanding their perspective is important.

I like how Shapiro ends his book quoting E Pluribus Unim, “out of many, one” as the goal. As Americans, we may have a lot of differences but we are all on in the same boat. Listening to each other with respect and empathy will strengthen our unity and perhaps put the chill on all the divisiveness in our culture.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Ex Heroes by Clines

Here’s something I’ve never read before: a zombie novel. With super heroes. How this wasn’t a thing before this book series was written I’ll never understand!

Ex Heroes
Ex Series 1
By Peter Clines
Broadway Books
February 2013

The novel takes place in Hollywood. Heroes have turned a movie lot into a safe base for the civilians they have found since the start of the plague. Saint George, a superman who can also breath fire, along with several other heroes find that they aren’t just fighting against hoards of zombies, but against a large gang run be a [SPOILER] super powered civilian. As life and death hangs in the balance will our intrepid heroes find a way to survive? Tune in next week, true believers, to find out!

Or something. Yeah, it’s a serial pulp comic book zombie mash up. But it’s also fun and kept my interest as I flew through it. Will I read the next one? Yeah, when it’s on sale. Why not?

There is some sexuality, but nothing graphic. Some cussing that may be inappropriate for younger readers. It’s not very scary except for the zombies. Probably a late teen and older book for fans of both genres.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Collapsing Empire by Scalzi

The Interdependency is a galaxy wide coalition of systems run by a central system where an Empero leads the government, trade guilds, and church. Each system is dependent on the others and not self sufficient – on purpose to ensure they work together. But when the Flow (which I couldn’t help but envision the East Australian Current from Finding Nemo,) that is used to travel to each of the systems because they are too far to get to otherwise, starts to collapse the new Empero faces the very real possibility of the extinction of humanity.

The Collapsing Empire
By John Scalzi
Tor Books
March 2017

The book is filled with interesting characters with varying goals and a ton of intrigue. Guild leaders focus on profits and power, the church focuses on control (of course,) and then the is the reluctant Empero who doesn’t want power but may be the best person in that role since she actually cares. The story is fast paced with a well developed Flow dependent universe. And since it’s the first book, the are quite a lot of unresolved issues to keep the reader intrigued.

Scalzi writes the humor that I expect from him. But unlike other books I’ve read, especially his amazing, award winning Redshirts, this book is chaulk full of cuss words and sex. The F word is in every sentence of some characters and at times overwhelming. The sexuality is common place and consequence free. Not really what I was expecting.

Will I read the next book? Maybe. If I do, it will definitely be on headphones.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Video Game Plotline Tester by Atamanov

Timothy needs a job. He’s good at MMORPGs. So when the biggest VR online role playing game advertised “tester” jobs, he saw a perfect fit. And it was in so many ways.

Video Game Plotline Tester
Dark Herbalist 1
by Michael Atamanov
Magic Dome Books
January 2017

He is given the job by the corporation of playing as a rare combination of race and job and then blogging (with video) how to play as that character. His combo? A goblin herbalist. Not exactly a great combo. Furthermore, he can never change it. Even if he quit the job. Timothy makes it work, along with the help of his sister, who also plays, and soon finds that he is making a ton of money and rising in stature at the company. He also moved out of the slums, and has an incredibly attractive (and important company programmer) interested in him. Everything he does works out for him. Every. Thing.

And that’s the weakest part of this book. It’s not the detail that only RPG games may understand. It’s not the plot, which goes almost no where. It’s that everything works out. This book is like a dream the author had about a game he played. In that dream, he got everything he wanted: some online personality, money, stature, the girl. It’s just too much success to be believable.

Still, it’s fun. It’s fun to imagine the same things happening to a character I’m playing. This is a series that has three books so far and I’m most likely going to read the others. Completely for fun. With my brain peacefully at rest.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Surprised by Hope by Wright

My daughter was reading this in a NT college class so I read along with her. This is Wright’s attempt to refocus Christians on the resurrection that happens at the point of salvation, here and now, instead of a future hope in an otherworldly heaven.

Surprised by Hope
Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the of the Church

by N.T. Wright
HarperOne
February 2008

I found the book to be both challenging as well as explanatory. Challenging in the sense that we can work towards bringing the Kingdom here without going full Social Gospel, which I think can become a works oriented, and sometimes idolatrous, gospel. We can find a balance between God does the changing/ fixing and we were created for good works. It’s a balance that I haven’t solved, but I’m convinced I should be doing a better job living the Kingdom now.

It was also explanatory in the sense that I have, seemingly apart from Christianity, come to believe that the escapism of the modern western church is wrong and that I feel strongly that certain injustices should be addressed. I believe that mistreatment of creation (environment) and animals (factory farms) is wrong, that the enslavement of people literally and through debt or poverty is wrong, and that the wrongs we see around us aren’t just supposed to make us upset or tut-tut, but should spur us to action. Feeling that way but being raised in a Western church didn’t mix and didn’t give me a justification for these feelings being Biblically based calls to action and definitely not connected to resurrection or the Kingdom. Wright connected the dots for me.

I recommend this book highly.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

One Second After by Forstchen

The title refers to what might happen immediately after an attack on America by an Electro Magnetic Pulse weapon. While I enjoy a good post apocalyptic story I don’t like how realistic this book is. At all.

One Second After
by William R. Forstchen
Forge Books
March 2009

The story follows a family in a small community in North Carolina. The father is a retired colonel (of course), and he has his mother-in-law and two daughters to keep safe when everything our current world runs on stops. Suddenly we are 100 years in the past technologically but no one knows how to use 100 year old technology. [SPOILERS] So what happens? 80-90% of the United States population dies. In one year. Consider that everything from housing, to medicine, to communication, to food and drink all rely on electricity. Take that away and you have a world with population groups that can’t sustain themselves and sick people who can’t get medicine and weather that can’t be mitigated. It’s horrifying!

Newt Gingrich provides the forward explaining that this may be a work of fiction but is based on real threats. If this book is even half right about what may happen and how easy it may be to bring America to it’s knees, then this kind of attack could result in the deaths of millions of Americans. I’m not sure how much had changed since publication if this book, (2009,) but I sincerely hope that or government has prepared in some way. I realize how that sounds, but what else can I do but hope?


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Hell Divers by Smith

In the near future, the surface of the earth is decimated by nuclear war and the only refuge for humanity are floating fortresses created to drop those same bombs that made the surface uninhabitable. Now, 250 years later, humanity clings to life on just two remaining fortresses, Aries and the Hive. The ships are kept afloat by sending Hell Divers to the irradiated surface on suicide drops for supplies and replacement parts.

Hell Divers
by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Blackstone Publishing
January 2017

Each ship is a world unto itself but when there are only two ships in the world and the total population of humanity is less than a thousand souls the Hive is obligated to respond to a distress call from Aries even though it’s coming from ground zero of the apocalypse, a place called Hades where no diver has ever returned from. It’s up to X, the longest tenured diver on the Hive, and his team to find the parts necessary to keep humanity from going extinct. To make matters worse, X finds out that he isn’t the only thing alive on the surface.

I found this to be very similar to Metro 2033 in both the cramped home of humanity as well as the irradiated surface and “other” obstacles. It even ends in a similar way. Not the same, but reminiscent. No spoilers.

X is a typical tough guy hero who has survived against all odds – at least until this new threat shows up. The other characters are vaguely interesting, but it’s all about what happens on the surface. This is a popcorn book, filled with action and suspense, adrenalin and fun. X-pect that and you’ll have a great time. I enjoyed it and will probably pick up book 2 in the future.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Up From Slavery by Washington

Booker was born a slave on a plantation in Alabama. He died the president of a university and one of the most celebrated men in America.

Up From Slavery
by Booker T. Washington
1901

This is a fascinating autobiography by an important fight in American history! The first few chapters, especially, give a history of the end of slavery and the first 25 years after emancipation from the perspective of a former slave that are indispensable! Later chapters focus more on Washington’s accolades and the growth of Tuskegee University and aren’t as interesting, except for certain events.

This is a book worth reading and one all Americans should read for the history and also Washington’s attitude and philosophy, which I think still matters: educate yourself, gain skills, work hard. Rise up.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Abolition of Man by Lewis

This very short collection of lectures is a fascinating look at a mid last century argument against, what I believe we now call, postmodernism.

The Abolition of Man
by C.S. Lewis
1943

Lewis argues most vigorously against the attack on reason that a couple authors of a school text make, knowingly or not. The idea that sets Lewis off is a seeming rejection of objective reality; that things are objectively true regardless of our opinions. He carefully makes his argument without referring to Christianity or any religion at all, but falls back on what he calls the Tao or – and Lewis readers will recognize this one – natural law.

This argument is a winning one, but unfortunately we see that nearly 80 years later society has embraced it. Postmodernism and relativism rule academia and culture. “My truth” and “your truth” are accepted even though they don’t exist, objectively. “That’s how you see it” or “That’s your opinion” have not only been shown to be as destructive as Lewis anticipated but lead to exactly where he warns us: the death, or abolition, of all objective knowledge.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.