American Gods

Summary

Gods and other mythological beings exist. But they’re capricious a-holes.

Written by
Neil Gaiman in 2001

American Gods is not your typical science fiction novel. Set in modern day America, or at least a version of it where gods roam among us mere mortals, it details one man’s journey from a low point in his life, to understanding himself and the direction his life should take.

Shadow has spent the last three years in prison. Not for armed robbery mind you, but for beating up on the guys who didn’t split the loot with him properly. Shadow is most looking forward to going home and spending some quality time with his wife. Which is unsurprising. What is surprising is that Shadow is released a few days earlier, not for anything good though. His wife was killed in a car accident with his best friend.

On his way home, he meets a mysterious man, Mr Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. There’s nothing else for him at home, his life hasn’t been ruined, but a chapter ended and a new one must begin.

And what an interesting new chapter it is. A long, winding adventure through the American landscape, meeting new (old) people and Shadow is left wondering what the literal hell is going on. He dreams of all manner of things, is directionless and no really sure what he wants to do with himself. That and the fact that his wife seems to have come back from the dead.

Along the way, there are little tidbits of stories that help to build Gaiman’s world of wonders. Throughout the ages, we see when and how belief in the supernatural arrived on American shores. And it wasn’t just the more recent waves of immigration either.

Anyway, the book is as described in the preface; long and meandering. It’s by no means bad though. Surprisingly an enjoyable yet slow adventure, the story is quite well paced and the alternate universe in which it’s set would be quite an interesting one to live in indeed.

Overall, there’s a good reason why this book is highly rated by readers. Even though it starts off slowly, the build up and the pay off is well worth the time spent. If like me you found this a bit hard to get off the ground, remain patient. You’ll enjoy this one.

Rating

Gets better as you go along.

Read this if you…

Enjoy long and winding roads along which adventure always ensues.

Skip this if you…

Aren’t patient enough to get through some of the more mundane parts.

A rant against Asus

Asus might well be one of the biggest and most recognised brands in the personal computing industry, but I’m starting to question just why they are. You’re wondering why this rant is here? Read on.

There’s no denying that Asus tends to make some pretty good stuff. But as I’ve been discovering lately, there are lots and lots of bad stories about their aftersales support, namely that it doesn’t seem to exist. I chose not the believe those tales. After all, how bad could it be?

Well, it can get pretty bad. Enter, my old graphics card, an Asus R9 290 factory overclocked beast.

It was dying. Slowly, and then it really fell off a cliff in October. Since it was still within the warranty, I brought it back to the place of purchase, which happened to be Scorptec computers. The guys there were pretty cool about it, tested my card and replicated the issue.

No big deal right? Off it went, back to Asus. A week later, my card had returned. Apparently it was the same card, and it seemed that they’d “fixed it” by replacing the heatsink and fan assembly, plus added some additional structural reinforcement. I was sceptical, but optimistic.

Nothing had been fixed. In fact, it was worse than it was previously. I took it back to the shop the next day, and the techs there replicated the issues yet again.

Off it went, back to Asus.

I waited two weeks. No word. I prompted the shop to see what was going on. Apparently, the card was on its way back. I was cautiously optimistic that Asus might actually have paid attention to the problems and replaced it.

No. Freaking. Dice. Asus hadn’t done anything in two weeks. How do I know this? Scorptec simply stuck the GPU in a test bench and nothing changed. The thing was still FUBAR.

So the moral of the story? Buy Asus, but buy from them knowing that their after sales service is as woeful as the stories out there. The fact that they just didn’t care about a failure of their product spoke volumes, because now the issue had to be dealt with by the store. I feel sorry for the retailer. I as the customer was refunded, and that was fine, because I went and used the credit on another product.

But Asus just lost my custom for the rest of time. Oh well, there are plenty of other manufacturers out there vying for my hard earned. Asus might make products with high initial quality, but boy do they screw you if something goes wrong.

Duel in the Dark (Book One of the Blood on the Stars series)

Summary

More war stories from Jay Allan, this time in a new series!

Written by
Jay Allan in 2016

I was first introduced to Jay Allan’s writings with the Far Stars trilogy, which was a blast. Literally. In fact, there were so, so many blasts in that series I think I’m still reeling from them. Anyway, Allan returns with his newest series, entitled Blood on the Stars, which as you can guess is another military science fiction drama tale.

The book sets the scene by introducing a triumvirate of human powers. The Confederation is loosely based on a modern democratic society with all its good and bad aspects. The Alliance is a war based society, similar to Sparta but with spaceships and guns, and the Union is a despotic dystopia that reminds me of the society in Nineteen Eighty Four. But without anybody named Winston in it.

Basically, the series will be about a huge conflict between the three powers, stemming from the natural tendency for humans to kill each other pointlessly and exploit resources.

The plot for the book itself is pretty simple. The Conferderation is under siege from the Union, and the Union has tried to rope in the third and youngest of the powers into a war as well, in a manner that would subjugate the Confederation.

Basically, this entire story focuses on the crews of two opposing starships having a giant battle in space. It’s nothing if not entertaining, though the earlier parts of the book, in which the build up happens, is a merry go round of characters and introductions. If you don’t pay proper attention, then you might get a bit lost.

If you’re looking for some straight military science fiction, look no further than Duel in the Dark. It’s not perfect, but it’s enjoyable enough.  

 

Rating

Nice action, not much of a plot.

Read this if you…

Enjoy lazor duels in space. Just without a light and dark side.

Skip this if you…

Are looking for something contemplative.