Wahwah wah wah
Kirk Hammett quote
MORE OF THAT NON-COMPUTER STUFF
SOME OF THE BOOKS WE'VE BEEN READING RECENTLY
by Richard Karsmakers and Stefan Posthuma
Some music is thundering through the heat of the room -
Obituary's "Slowly we Rot" (thanks to the SOD for getting me into
touch with this CD). I bet the neighbours like it just as much
(as a matter of fact, they may indeed as they seem to be into
metal as well).
So this is yet another article that has zilch to do with
computers. Some time ago, we already had an article about books
written by Ruud van de Kruisweg, but this time I have read some
more myself so I reckoned I might just as well write it myself.
Please do not read this as if I were a literary critic; I just
wrote this so that I can tell you what I've read and what I
therefore think you should read as well.
Anne Mc Caffrey - Dragonriders of Pern
I start with these as they are the most I have read: 10 books
(of which I still have two to go). They play on a planet that has
been colonised in the future. However, mankind has sought not to
retain all the technology they had, and these books primarily
play in a time with a technology levels of late middle ages -
with weapons and medicine accordingly.
The planet, Pern, is a unique one. Not only is it inhabited by
dragons that are friendly, that can teleport, and that have a
telepathic relationship with the first human they see after
hatching, but McCaffrey has worked out cultures and the works.
The danger on Pern comes from Threads, that fall off the Red
Star whenever it comes too close to Pern's orbit - which is each
in every 200 years (and which continues for about 20 years each
time). These Threads are lethal. They burrow and eat away all
vegetation of they hit the ground. Luckily, the dragons (with the
dragonriders) can burn Thread from the sky, saving the planet
time upon time.
These books are all science fiction with a hint of fantasy
(though there is no magic, no trolls, etc.).
Let's have a look at these books in the order in which they are
advised to be read (which, remarkably, is mentioned on the latest
volume and is quite unknown before).
Coincidence or what? Erik Simon, Thalion's designer of the RPG
"Dragonflight", did not call his epic game after this, even
though he was inspired by Pern - he had read the book in German,
where it has a totally different name.
Anyway, this is the first book in the "Dragonriders of Pern"
series. In it, the weyrwoman Lessa has to save Pern from the
ravages of Thread - which hasn't dropped in 400 years, so that
people tend to refer to it as legend instead of reality. There
are few dragons and dragonriders, but some way or another Pern
has to be saved.
This book gets going very slowly, but the finale is really
catching, and resulted in me getting wet eyes (but, hey, I get
It's amazing that this book could be written. All it handles is
an obsession of a dragonrider, F'Lar, to get to the Red Star. It
hardly contains a story. But the oddest thing is that it is very
entertaining to read nonetheless. I guess that's the power of
having an entire imaginative world in the background.
THE WHITE DRAGON
This is a particularly good volume. It's about someone who
should not have been a dragonrider and a dragon that should not
have hatched (it's white and smaller than the others). It has
some special capabilities, though - it can for example
communicate with fire lizards (the smaller relatives of dragons).
A particularly good volume, as I already said.
It is said that the previous three books formed a trilogy, and
that the following three were a trilogy as well. If you don't
know this (I didn't), this is very confusing. This trilogy is
partly parallel to the first one.
In this book Menolly, a girl that can sing and play instruments
like the best boy, has her frustrations. Her dad wants her to be
a typical girl. She can never be a harper (a harper is a singer
and entertainer on Pern), because only men get to be harpers. So
she runs off. Then she gets caught by thread, teaches fire
lizards to sing...
Quite an enchanting book, though the story line sounds crap.
DRAGONSINGER: HARPER OF PERN
Yeah. Menolly gets to be a harper here. All her wishes come
true and all that stuff. Another non-pretentious volume here,
that really doesn't have much of a storyline attached to it. Good
to read, though.
In the previous book we've already met Piemur, a student at the
harper hall where Menolly also resides. He can sing damn well,
but here he loses his voice. From that moment on he has to
operate the drums at the drumheights. He gets into deepest
problems trying to steal a queen fire lizard egg, his fellow
students hate him... Superficial but fun to read.
MORETA - DRAGONLADY OF PERN
This is a separate volume, based around one of the persons of
legend in Pern's history, weyrwoman Moreta. At a time of
Threadfall, the entire planet is threatened by a plague of
formidable dimensions. She is the one that has to save all.
This volume's got a better story and is far more heroic than,
for example, the second trilogy put together. Unfortunately, it
has a very sad and unexpected ending.
I have not yet read the other books. They are (in order to be
read): "Nerilka's Story & The Coelura" (in Moreta's time, two
shorter stories), "Dragonsdawn" (which is chronologically the
first book, just after the colonisation of Pern) and "The
Renegades of Pern".
Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis - Dragonlance Chronicles
I had heard of these books before (some of the programmers we
visited during the "LateST NEWS Quest" in England, summer 1989,
had listed them as best), but I had never gone through the
trouble of finding them. What a shame this turned out to be. Only
rarely before have I felt so deprived of something - the lucky
thing was that I had never actually realised I had been deprived
until at last I wasn't any more.
Before I continue, I would like to send greetings and best of
luck to Mark van den Boer - for it is he who recently went to
Australia for a year so that I could borrow and read a lot of his
books (among which also these).
The Dragonlance books are RPG merchandise, i.e. they function to
show the kind of adventures you can have when playing true RPG
board games (the thing with dice and puppets and stuff). They
succeed brilliantly here, as I am thinking of joining an RPG
group here in Utrecht.
The world is called Krynn, and the characters are fairly
traditional. There's a half-elven, a dwarf, normal people, elves,
gnomes, etc. But there's also something new. There are a lot of
fresh, new ideas. There is a character belonging to a race called
kender, and there's of course loads of baddies. Not only dragons
and all that stuff, but also draconians - half-man half-dragon.
The story is very good, the heroism is brilliant, and the
telling is the best of all. It is lighter to read but nonetheless
fascinating than "Lord of the Rings".
These are compelled reading. I would almost say that you don't
count if you haven't read this. There are three books in this
series, that are one large story with epic heights and depths.
They are called "Dragons of Autumn Twilight", "Dragons of Winter
Night" and "Dragons of Spring Dawning". It's also available as
Brilliant. Beautiful. Moving.
Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis - Dragonlance Legends
Just read the above. It applies to this trilogy as well. We meet
some of the old characters as well as some new ones. It is all
extremely fascinating to read, and it's as enthralling as a book
is ever likely to become. This time the battle is to rescue a
soul - and not the one you'd expect.
Merely writing this down causes me to think back of the story.
A lump forms in my throat.
The three volumes, also available as a one-volume edition, are
called "Time of the Twins", "War of the Twins" and "Test of the
Again: Brilliant. Beautiful. Moving. You have to read this.
Frank Herbert - Dune
The "Dune" chronicles have terms like "The best selling SF
adventure of all time" written all over them. Many people I met
in the past five years told me "Dune" was very good. I had liked
the film, but everybody said that the books were infinitely much
So when I got the opportunity to read these books I grasped it
with both hands. Six books: "Dune", "Dune Messiah", "Children of
Dune", "God Emperor of Dune", "Heretics of Dune" and
The story is about a chap called Paul Atreides who happens to be
talented in many way. He moves to a desert planet called
"Arrakis" (but more commonly known as "Dune"). There's intrigues
and all that stuff. Very competently written, by a man who no
doubt has learned great wisdom in his life. But I do not find it
fun to read, nor extremely exciting in any other way. I simply
find the principle of people that can kill by mentioning a word a
bit strange. It's very difficult to identify with.
There's also quite a lot of religion. Paul Atreides is
considered to be a God (Muad'dib), a jihad is started, millions
die, he is not satisfied with himself being a God, people
worship him, his wife dies, his children are even more God, the
kids have to be murdered, etc.
I don't like "Dune". When I was in the middle of the third book,
I realised I'd rather be reading something else and quit.
Not my kind of books.
Robert Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land
Another one of the books I could borrow from good ol' Mark that
is now scavenging the Australian continent in a battered old
"Stranger in a Strange Land" starts off rather...er...naive.
There's a man who is human but who has never seen earth. He has
been raised by Martians who generally have quite a different
attitude from us humans. Whereas we think about money, power and
other things like that, our Martian human is more interested in
water-sharing, grokking and love.
The culture shock is nicely described, and soon is turns out
that the Mr. Martian is rather powerful - without knowing
anything about it. Then the usual happens, i.e. people want to
get him on their side.
After the middle, the book gets a bit too religious to my taste
(not that it promoted God or something, but our Martian is
considered to be some kind of Messiah and thus starts a church).
But that's also where the slightly rousing bits are. Lots of
subtle sex there - not dirty but nice.
A very strange book, I would say. I liked it nonetheless - a lot
more than I liked "Dune".
Stephen Donaldson - Daughter of Regals and other Tales
The strange thing is that I bought this book during the much
mentioned "LateST NEWS Quest" - i.e. in England in the summer of
1989. It's been standing on my shelves rather aimlessly to wait
until I finally finished reading Donaldson's "Second Chronicles
of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever". That took almost a year,
because during that time I got employed in Germany and suddenly I
didn't have that much time to read.
After finishing Covenant, however, I passed on to some lighter
stuff. I read Pratchett's "Mort", and even did some of C.S.
Lewis' "Cosmic Trilogy", where I got stuck in the third book.
Then I suddenly got lots of time, having to travel to and fro my
work in Holland by train from April 1st to July 1st. While
waiting for a bookshop to supply me with more Dragonriders of
Pern Volumes, I read "Daughter of Regals and other Tales".
What a pity that I hadn't done so before.
What this book contains is a collection of eight thoroughly
enjoyable and widely varying short stories. They are called
"Daughter of Regals" (Kinda good - palace intrigues), "Gilden-
Fire" (An outtake of a Covenant volume. I didn't like it much
because it was too long ago I had read these), "Mythological
Beast" (Very nice. The kind of stuff I would like to write), "The
Lady in White" (Fairly standard, but very well told, like a
fairytale), "Animal Lover" (Really exciting, bit of sci-fi.
Really good!), "Unworthy of the Angel" (More or less religious
fiction, but quite good and realistic), "The Conqueror Worm"
(Kinda strange with a weird ending I don't like) and "Ser Visal's
Tale" (Kinda mediaeval fantasy fiction, bit beautifully told).
Even if you don't like Covenant, I would advise you to read
these. "Daughter of Regal" is so-so (well, I find it so-so), and
perhaps you would then skip "Gilden-Fire". But the rest is
Douglas Adams - Last Chance to See
When you team up a zoologist with the world's weirdest author of
humour, you get a book about animals. But not just any book about
animals. You get a book where a quest for the finding of a rare
animal is described - including all oddities and thoughts along
the side. A book where the animal is described in a, let's say,
unorthodox way. A book that grasps your awareness of how shit
things are for animals nowadays but that makes you laugh while
There is no way to describe the humour. It is plain yet very
funny. I find it remarkable that Adams can find humour (absurd or
not) in the most normal things that happen.
You don't have to be into zoology to like this book. It is
simply very funny, though maybe a bit too expensive when hard
Peter Bowler - The Superior People's Book of Words
This is a book unlike any of the other I have read so far. It is
as different to "Dragonlance" as Hawking's "A Brief History of
Time" is to "Dragonriders of Pern" - only vastly less complex.
It's a not a reading book, actually. It's the kind of book that
reviewers tend to quote large parts of in order to sound either
interesting or very intelligent.
I will not quote any of it, as I also think this spoils part of
the fun reading the book.
Anyway, "The Superior People's Book of Words" is filled with the
words that might just suffice to have people cease understanding
you, as well as multiple words that replace common words that are
really much to mundane to be used in the company of advanced
people. Although I doubt the practical use to some extend, it is
surely a load of fun to read.
Thanks to Alex Crousen for borrowing it to me. It has expanded
Maybe, in the next issue of ST NEWS or thereabouts, I will write
some more about the books I will have read. As I will by then
have started my English course at Utrecht University, I suspect I
will have been reading more than usual.
Also, I still have quite some books on my shelves that I have
yet to read. There's two series by Isaac Asimov - "Foundation"
and "Robots". There's Stephen Donaldson's "Mordant's Need".
There's a new series by Hickman and Weis, called "The Darksword
Trilogy". The two other McCaffrey books. Hell, I even still have
to read Tolkien's "Silmarillion", that has been gathering dust on
my shelves for over two years now! I am even planning to read
"Lord of the Rings" for the fourth time, but I guess I won't find
the time needed.
By the time I will have finished the books mentioned just now, I
suppose Donaldson will have finished at least a part of his new
series (I don't know what it's called - I just know he's doing
one), Douglas Adams will have finished two more books (see "Did
you know that..."), and someone will have finished reading yet
another Hickman-Weis trilogy so that I can borrow it from him.
And then there's "American Psycho" that Stefan tells me is fun,
a whole series of Terry Pratchett books, a book by Iain Banks
that my mum bought me ("The Bridge"). I haven't even read all Tom
I suppose I'll be doing a lot of reading.
So now, let's get to know the kind of stuff Stefan's reading...
(A different layout and stuff, but who giveth a copulation)
GOOD OMENS by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
When I saw this book, and noted Pratchett on the cover, I
bought it immediately. This impulse has been rewarded with many a
night of reading pleasure since this is quite a remarkable book.
Imagine two immortal creatures, an angel named Aziraphale (also
part-time book collector) and a demon named Crowley (probably
after the illustre occultist Aleister Crowley). The two
characters look and act like perfectly normal human beings, was
it not for the fact that they can perform magic like you blow
There is a complot from Hell where the son of the Devil has been
put on Earth, as a seemingly normal human child and he shall lead
the Final Battle, Armageddon or something similar.
Also, the four horsemen (these days riding motorbikes) cruise
through the stoy. War, Death, Famine and Pollution (he replaced
Pestilence, who retired after the invention of penicillin). These
guys are also regular humans, for example Famine is a cool dude
who runs a chain of fast-food chains and War is a beautful woman
who always seems to attrack trouble.
There is one person who foresaw all of this, Agnes Nutter. A
witch burned at the stake quite some time ago. She left a book
called 'The nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter' and her
only surviving relative, a young occultist named Anathema Device
who lives her life according to the prophecies finds out about
the terrible things about to happen.
Add a load of other characters to it like insane witchhunters,
little kids and hellhounds (Dog) and you have an amusing story.
The photograph in the book portrays Pratchett in white and
Gaiman in black, just like the angel and the demon on the cover,
which suggests..well...whatever. Nice book this one, a little
strange perhaps but I like it a lot.
MAGIC KINGDOM FOR SALE (SOLD) by Terry Brooks
Yes, another story about a magic land full of mystical creatures
and beauty that is threatened by some horrible evil and it is up
to some hero to save the day and they will live happily ever
Okay, but this is different. (sortof)
Ben Holiday is a succesful New York lawyer who makes a lot of
money, lives in a nice house etc. etc. But he lost his wife some
time ago and he gets more and more fed up with his life as he
misses her more and more. Then one day he gets a catalogue from
an exclusive warehouse offering a complete magic kingdom for sale
for the price of 1,000,000 dollars. All you had to do was pay up
and you would become king of your own little kingdom, the kingdom
When he finally decides, and arrives in his land, he soon finds
out that things aren't like they were supposed to be. The whole
place is messed up, his people don't trust him, a dragon is at
large and some witch plans to make things even worse.
His castle is decaying and his only followers are a talking dog,
an incompetent wizard and two kobolds who act as his bodyguard.
There is also a mighty knight named the Paladin, but he turns out
to be a ghost.
So Ben is not totally happy with this turn of events and just
when he is about to give up, he realizes that he should take the
challenge and starts putting things right. After enormous amounts
of trouble he succeeds and they indeed live happily ever after.
I know, a bit of a cliché story, but well written and it reads
smoothly, correct amounts of humour and action keeping you
interested. But still, a neat book. There are more Kingdom of
Landover novels, and I wouldn't mind reading them.
STARK by Ben Elton
I never heard of this guy but he did a lot of writing for famous
English comedy like the brilliant 'Blackadder', one of my all-
time favourite English comedy series (together with Faulty Towers
This book is about the Environment, and is basically a comedy
with a very serious undertone.
It's about a conspiracy of the most amazing kind. It seems like
the ultra-rich are planning something evil, something devious.
Only a few people find out about this, they are a somewhat
frustrated young man, two spaced-out hippies, an American
reporter, a nice girl and two aboriginals. (The story is set in
They blunder through the story, eventually uncovering the
mysterious plans of the STARK conspirators.
The best thing about this book is the way it is written, very
sharp, and to the point. Lots of black humour and cynicism.
The best characters from the book are the two hippies, one of
them a large, bearded dude, and another a Vietnam vet, who lost
his balls in the bush and is totally neurotic and crazy, a bit
like Rambo on dope.
But it also contains a warning that we are seriously screwing up
our planet and if we let things go on the way they go now, the
Earth is going to be uninhabitable soon....
THE BALLAD OF WUNTVOR TRILOGY by Craig Shaw Gardner
These books ("An Excess of Enchantments", "A Difficulty With
Dwarves" and "A Disagreement With Death") are a bit hard to
describe. It's basically fantasy with all the ingredients, like
enchanted swords, dragon, dwarves etc. etc.
But these books are completely insane. The enchanted swords are
cowards, complaining about the fact that they are being used to
hack 'n slash while they could be hanging nicely somewhere over a
The dragons are not the ferocious killers like people use to
describe them, but rather civilized and execellent stage
performers and playwrights. Magic is performed by dancing
Brownies and the Dwarves the ones that got left out, the Seven
It's basically about Wuntvor, the clumsy apprentice who has to
find a cure for his Master, a Wizard who has become allergic to
Magic. This Quest is a bit troublesome, with rhyming demons,
indecisive Giants, Death and other silly creatures bothering him.
Totally warped, insane and very funny sometimes.
AMERICAN PSYCO by Bret Easton Ellis
As previous books all had a humorous touch, and were fun to
read, this one hits like a sledgehammer.
It is a very intense and rather disturbing story of a young man
named Patrick Bateman. He is a very succesfull Wall Street Yuppie
and leads a very comfortable life of expensive restaurants,
designer clothes and fancy women. At first, he seems very normal,
and basically a nice guy until he starts slaughtering people in
rather appaling ways. I think Ellis decided upon sex and violence
the most extreme kind and he succeeded. Patrick tortures people
to death with nail guns, chainsaws, car batteries, hungry rats
and does the most atrocious things to them, even long after they
Most of the times he does his stuff after having sex with (often
more than one) girl, and the description of the sex scenes is
pornography of the bluntest kind.
Great, you think. Sex and violence, sounds like a movie.
But this is different. While you read it, you get involved with
this Patrick. This is probably because it is written from the
view of Patrick. He never feels bad about the things he does, he
just describes it with an indifference that makes you think he
describes the color of his tie.
Also, he is totally obsessed with the look of himself, and the
way others look. Page after page is dedicated to describing what
clothes he wears and what clother others wear. Whenever somebody
enters the place of action, he describes into detail what they
are wearing. Also, some chapters are entirely dedicated to the
very elaborate description of the music of Whitney Houston and
Huey Lewis. This kind of obsessive writing coupled with the
totally disgusting violence and the hardcore porn makes this a
very strange and disturbing book. Not for the faint-hearted but
if you like to be shocked, this is for you.
LAVONDYSS by Robert Holdstock
Somewhere hidden in a dark forest lies a mystical land, dark and
spooky, enchanting yet terrifying. This land is called
Tallis Keeton is a young girl who creates her own fantasy world
in the lands lying behind her house. She names the trees, the
fields and the waters. She is drawn to the land and soon she sees
glimpses of another land hidden behind it. At first she is
terrified, but later on she is fascinated. More and more she
becomes of the land, learning more about it, living in it.
When she hears about the disappearance of her brother, she knows
where he is and she swears to find him. She enters Lavondyss,
determined, but there is evil as well, and soon she crosses the
border of the forbidden bird spirit land...
A very mysterious book, about even more mysterious things. The
first part is absolutely wonderful, when young Tallis discovers
the wonderful secrets of the land she lives in. The second part
however gets very complicated and has a very different feeling to
it, a rather drastic change from the beginning.
If you like this type of totally strange writings, you'll love
it, even though the second part is a bit of a letdown, they even
give a sceintific explanation of it all...
The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker
This book has some nice memories attached to it, since I bought
it when I was travelling trough the States, and read most of it
in motel rooms while my friend Eric was watching one of the many
channels they have there on cable TV.
It's a rather bizarre story about a substance known as Nuncio.
It enhances the soul of what it touches, it evolves man into
Two people come in contact with it, one bad and one evil. The
book is about their battle, which is not only carried on by them,
but also by their children, who initially know nothing about
That's it really, but there is much more to the story of course.
Strange happenings, sub-plots etc. The book has 688 pages and if
you are a fan of fantasy-horror, you can't miss it really.
OK, I have read a few more, like 'Better than Life' by Grant
Naylor (great sequel to 'Red Dwarf'), 'Last chance to see...' by
Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine (brilliant), 'Oni' by
emm..er...can't remember! (anyway, a rather intense thriller
about a Japanse assasin) and I am reading 'It' by Stepen King at
I would like to end this with the filmtip of the century, the
film to define films to come, the ultimate roller-coaster Sci-
Fi/Action movie, the film with the most stunts, the film with the
most amazing and truly breathtaking special (computergenerated)
effects, the film that makes 'Total Recall' pale into
insignificance, the film that will nail to to your seat, the film
that will make you gasp in amazement, the film that was more
expensive than 'Return of the Jedi', the film with the best black
humour, the film of films....
Miss it and you haven't lived.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.