Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book Review: Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life

Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

You are what you pay attention to.

Winifred Gallagher was a mother of two young girls when she was diagnosed with a cancer that had a great chance of ending her life. Understandably, her mind was full of dread and terror that she would leave her girls motherless. Since she might be living her final days, she decided to focus on, and pay attention to, the things that gave her joy. Her children, a sunset, her family....

Her life changed. While she dealt with bad news on the medical front, she enjoyed the rest of her life. She recovered, and looked back in wonder at what had been a pretty good year.

So she began her research that led to this book. She interviewed neuro-scientists, psychiatric researchers, and others who study the mind and attention. The book covers what it means to focus on something, how it affects your brain, relationships, well being, productivity, and creativity. She covers the effects of drugs and meditation on the brain and its ability to focus. She looks at problems with focus, such as ADHD. And how focus can give life meaning.


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Preorder Memory Error now and Save Money

Golden Visions Magazine is taking preorders for their July edition.


Scroll down to where you see Our July print issue promises to be one of our best ever!

My story is Memory Error, a story about product testing a new memory enhancing device by implanting it into your own brain....

Game Book Review: Tattered Fates, Part I of the Haarlock's Legacy Trilogy

Dark Heresy RPG: Haarlock's Legacy Volume 1: Tattered Fates Dark Heresy RPG: Haarlock's Legacy Volume 1: Tattered Fates by Fantasy Flight Games

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

SPOILER ALERT! This review contains spoilers. Players should turn back now.

Tattered Fates, an adventure book for the Dark Heresy role playing game, will bring many hours of white knuckle gaming to your kitchen table (or wherever you game). The players will have to fight for their lives and sanity from the opening scene, where they wake up groggy and naked in fighting pit as howling beasts approach.

The action then shifts to decadent opulence as the players find themselves in a city given over a masked carnival set in a luxurious pleasure city.

As they uncover more clues about where they are, who sent them there, and what is about to happen when the clock strikes thirteen, they'll be up to their necks in intrigue and insanity.

Sidebars go over scaling the adventure to different party levels, but as written this is for a party of four players from rank four to rank six. However, the scaling suggestions are rather vague, and it is up to the individual games master to be ready. I'd like to see something from Fantasy Flight Games on how to keep adventures challenging yet survivable. I plan on having antagonist reinforcements available for every fight, in case things ever get easy for the players.

I would not recommend this for new Game Masters. Once out of the fighting pits, there is a lot of free form urban role playing. Their are many non-player characters to role play, and they all have an agenda. Experienced GM's should have no problem.

Game Masters who like to personalize published adventures will love this. Tattered Fates provides deep support for customization. The adventure works fine as is, but the framework makes it easy to add on your own subplots.

The adventure has a strong conclusion, but is intended as the first part of a trilogy. I'm hoping the rest of the trilogy lives up to the opener. The meta-arc concerns the Rogue Trader Haarlock, and this adventure works well as a follow on to The House of Dust and Ash adventure from Discipies of the Dark Gods.

The book is published as a 72 page hardback, which is an odd choice for an adventure. I paid $24.95 at my friendly local gaming store. However, it does look good on my shelves, and collectors will appreciate it.

I do.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Book Review: Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones

Bold as Love (Gollancz) Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book knocked my socks off. It's not what I expected. Looking at the back of the book, I figured "Rock Stars take over England, it'll be a romp." No. This is an often brutal and savage book, with many scenes of tenderness as well. This is a strong, character driven novel with plenty of plot twists and political turmoil.

There are three protagonists , although Fioridna gets the most Point of View time, especially at the start. She is a singer at war with the founder of her own band, but that's nothing compared to her other problems. Sage is the leader of a band of serious lunatics (they all were hologram "masks" of skulls over their heads). Ax is a guitar hero who has been thinking of leading England for a long time. As Great Britain falls apart, they find themselves riding a wave of counterculture dissent into political power. But who is really in charge, and can any good come of this?

The near future world building is very cool. More cool than realistic, which makes a great story, but not a probable future. The tech is very interesting, but low key. This is a story of characters in an exciting and exceptional setting.

The only science fiction readers I wouldn't recommend this to is anyone struggling with addition. There is a ton of drug use, and even though it's been decades, it made me think "ooh, that sounds fun." Except for the hurling scenes.

This is the first book in a series, but it does stand alone fairly well. I thought it was a stand alone book until very near the end, when Gwyneth Jones kept reminding me of the plot threads that hadn't been tied up yet.

I look forward to reading more.

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