Monday, August 14, 2006

Ebooks and other things

I was at a party on the weekend, and found myself talking to a fellow recently retired from the IT side of publishing. We got onto the subject of ebooks. He noted that when his company was first approached about ebooks, they didn't see it as a viable alternative to paperbacks. The ereaders were too expensive, too bulky -- just not a cost-effective alternative for most people. However, now that you can download a book onto a Blackberry, or some other gadget you already own, ebooks are looking a lot more viable.

I'd never thought of it that way, and can't see myself going for ebooks (I don't own a Blackberry or similiar device, for one thing) but I think he's right.

Since we had a bit of a drive to this party, I decided to "interview" my daughter about the books she's got me reading, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I particularly wanted to know what made her try the series.

In a word, LiveJournal. And hearing people rave about the books there. She likes fantasy to begin with, so it likely wasn't too hard a sell; it took her longer to persuade me, I'm sure. But I'm glad she did.

'Cause you know what George R.R. Martin does really well? He can make you hate a guy in one book, then sympathize with him the next. There are very few completely bad guys (or gals); most of the main players who start out "black" develop layers and shades of gray. Impressive. (There's a really good interview of him here.)

However, I'm in Book IV now ( A FEAST FOR CROWS), and alas, I'm not enjoying it as much as Book III, because two of the characters I find the most fascinating, Tyrion and the guy known as the Hound, have been conspicuously absent. ("Missing" characters seems to be a common complaint at Amazon, I note.)

Tyrion is really interesting and apparently many a reader's favorite character (and George R.R. Martin's, too), but if I were to write a romance based on anybody in those books, it'd be the Hound. My daughter was aghast when I said this, but it's true, and here's why: after setting up the Hound as BAD, George R.R. began sowing the seeds of sympathy by having him treat one female character with rather unexpected, well, kindness. In fact, I think the Hound loves her. The Hound also has a brother who's worse. WAY worse. Then, when I heard how the Hound got terribly scarred and that he has a very real vulnerability because of that, well...there ya go. Hero material to me. I'm really anxious about him. I'm worried he's not going to be back.

Even if I've seen the last of the Hound (and I just won't let myself believe that), I can only admire the talent that has me so concerned about a guy who was such a nasty at the start of the series.

Speaking of villains, I see Prison Break starts again next week. I totally missed T-Bag carrying his hand the first time I saw the finale. My sister told me and...EEEUUUUWWW! I watched it again later and... There. It. Was. EUUUUWWWW! But of course, I'll be watching. Not just because the guy playing T-Bag (Robert Knepper) is one fine actor. Does anybody do brooding and longing looks like Wentworth Miller? Mmmm....Captain Wentworth.... (Gotta love the fan who made the connection with Jane Austin's PERSUASION.)

First, though, it's Snakes on a Plane. Talk about yer high concept. Snakes. (Nasty, creepy crawling scary things). On a plane. (No escape.) Starring Samuel L. Jackson (oooh, he's tough -- although if you get a chance, rent The Red Violin to see him excell in a very different role). Can you not just see this in your head? What more do you need to know? And that, my friends, is "high concept."

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