Category Archives: @ashertopia

Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury

Imagine a world where there is so much information coming at you that you just can’t handle it; you decide that it would be better to simply avoid information that doesn’t make you happy. The world in this book is that world. And so is the real world, or at least it seems plausible that we are heading there.

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
1953

In recent years we have seen a louder and louder call to silence critics or people we don’t agree with. From de-platforming on college campuses, to blocking and banning on social platforms, to campaigns to fire people from their jobs for things they have said outside of work, to trying to get books banned, to making speech illegal if we find it hateful, we are definitely on the road to more censorship, rather than less. Bradbury provides this world for us: a world of happy thoughts (or else) and complete control by a police state that regulates not only how we relate to others but entertainment and learning as well.

Bradbury was ahead of his time in more than just the call to be wary of totalitarianism. His ideas of wall sized screens (instead of TVs) and interacting with those actors directly was prescient. The idea that we would, as a society, choose to burn ideas (books) on our own, that we would self-medicate (ala Brave New World) and that only true freedom would be outside the system all stay with the reader long after the book is over. I’ve read this book before and, while the story isn’t great, the points the author makes are true and definitely worth being reminded of.


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 Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Hayes

The book’s title is, unfortunately, accurate.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant
by Drew Hayes
REUTS Publications, LLC
July 2014

The book is a collection of stories that introduce the characters, one by one, and show some adventures that work out because they do. I almost didn’t finish the book. I set it aside and didn’t come back to it while I read several others. I did finish it and when I was done I couldn’t see myself reading more of this. But there are three books in the series. Three utterly uninteresting and unadventurous books.


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.

Extracted by Haywood

Imagine a time machine. Then imagine checking out the future and everything looks great. Then you look again and the world has ended. Why and how? You aren’t sure so you go back in time to the moment of death for three heroes who you plan to send in time to figure those things out. Of course, there is another group of shadowy, deadly people trying to stop you.

Extracted
by R.R. Haywood
47North
March 2017

It’s not exactly original, but it works in a way. The book drags in the middle and only at the end did I realize that this whole book was only the set up for a series. As much as this book had going against it, I’m inexplicably interested in the next one. Maybe I have unresolved questions or just want to see if anything happens. But I do. So that’s a positive.


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.

Unbelievable? by Brierley

I have had occasion to listen to the podcast by the same name by Brierley and found it interesting and worth my time, but how would a book work? Like he explains in the beginning chapters, this book is the first apologetic he’s written directly to readers and listeners.

Unbelievable?
Why after ten years of talking with atheists, I’m still a Christian
By Justin Brierley
SPCK
June 2017

Brierley comes across as thoughtful, if somewhat basic (if you read apologetics you’ll have already heard most of this.) Where the book shines is in his stories about his guests and their debates. It’s a short read and worth it, especially for fans and those who are interested in the topic but don’t want a more dense volume.


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.

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.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by Rowling

One of the best books of the last couple decades!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
by J.K. Rowling
Thorndike Young Adult
November 1999

I’ve been listening to the audio books of several series with my boys (ages 8 and 11) and was excited when we finished up the first Narnia book (chronologically, the Magician’s Nephew) and started in on Harry Potter. While my older boy and I have both read this book previously and seen the movies multiple times, re-reading was a great joy! There were many parts that I’d forgotten about or remembered the movie version instead of the book’s original version.

The reader, for the audio book, is excellent as well. We are very much looking forward to book two as we make our way through this, Narnia and the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series.


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.