Category Archives: Goodreads

The Danger of Sequels….

As many of you know, I have a profile on Goodreads. These days, when I talk about books, I usually do it over there.

Here’s a link to my profile if you’re interested.

I don’t really review books so much as I share my thoughts about books that I’ve read. Sometimes what I talk about reading with my kids. Sometimes I talk about story structure or the craft of writing.

It’s really all over the place.

Recently, I re-read a book that I read more than 20 years ago. Rendezvous with Rama.

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I liked it, even though it’s outside the style and genre I normally read. And so I wrote a little bit about it on goodreads. Then did something I didn’t do the first time I read it, even though I’d wanted to: I sought out the sequel so I could find out what happened next in the story.

The sequel book itself was perfectly well-written. But it irritated and angered me more than any book has in years.

The experience was… odd. It was troubling and confusing. I think about multi-volume stories a lot (for obvious reasons) but this brought some of my thoughts about sequels and follow-up works into focus. So I ended up writing those thoughts out. Partly for people who might be considering picking up the book, so they can be forewarned. But also just so I could get my own thoughts straight in my head….

Here’s the beginning of the review, if you’re interested.

So. Two stars. That’s a really low rating for me. Normally, if I really don’t like a book, I just move on with my life. But this one had elements that hit close to home for me.

Sorry, I realize that I was just speaking Midwestern Understatement. What I meant to say was that this book is a tangible manifestation of my nightmares.

Is this an awful book? No.

Did I enjoy it? No. It frustrated me from the first page. From *before* the first page, actually. More than that, even. This book made me angry.

But is it a bad book in itself? No. Which is why I’m writing a review of it. To explain this strange situation and to talk about the danger of sequels.

The rest of the review is over here if you’re interested. Be warned, there’s some strong language in there…

pat

Also posted in holding forth | By Pat26 Responses

Fanmail Q & A: Coolness

It’s been a while since I answered an e-mail from a reader. How about we do that?

Pat,

I just wanted to say I’ve loved The Name of the Wind for over a year now, but I just recently found your website. Your blog has kept me laughing for almost two solid weeks as I go back and read the archives. That’s something I’ve never done with a blog before.

Even better, your fundraiser was seriously amazing this year.

Seriously, how cool are you?

Jake

Jake,

You strike on a topic I’ve been curious about for some time. How cool am I?

As I’ve mentioned before in the blog, growing up, I wasn’t one of the cool kids. But things change, and these days geek is chic. I’m willing to admit to the fact that these days, I might actually be a little cool.

Your letter poses an interesting problem though. If you’d simply asked, “Are you cool?” I could have gotten away with answering “maybe” or “kinda.” But you’ve asked for a _degree_ of coolness. What’s more, you’ve requested that I *seriously* consider the problem.

That means we need to use science and shit. We need quantifiable units of coolness that we can plug into formulas. We need to be rigorous.

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the BIPM hasn’t established a standard unit by which we can measure coolness. I can’t just tell you that I’m say, 85 pascals of cool. Or 158 newtons. Or whatever.

That means if we want to determine how cool I am, we have to measure me against some sort of universally accepted standard of cool. We need to develop our own yardstick, as it were.

So, let’s pick two people who are undeniably cool. The king and queen of geek cool: Felicia Day and Neil Gaiman.

Now we need some numbers. While popularity isn’t quite the same thing as cool, you have to admit they’re closely related. Since I don’t have access to things like book sales or website hits, we’ll have to go to the lowest common denominator: Facebook.

(Yes, I know. Technically, Myspace would be the lowest common denominator. But there’s only so low I’m willing to go, even for science.)

A quick search of fan pages reveals the following stats.

Felicia: 192,000 fans.

Neil: 90,000 fans.

Me: 10,000 fans.

Now we could stop here and say, that I’m about .05 as cool as Felicia. Or that I’m roughly .11 of a Gaiman. Or something like that.

But drawing data from only one source strikes me as slipshod. To round things out, why don’t we take a look at Goodreads rankings?

Here’s a screenshot of their list of most-followed people.

[Edit: Yes, I know these numbers have changed since I took the screenshot. I’m not redoing the math.]
(Click to Embiggen)

As a side note, you can see that according to Goodreads, I’m ever-so slightly cooler than Wil Wheaton. I like how it looks like his little Lego man is pissed at me for being above him.

“Curse you, Rothfuss,” Lego-Wheaton says. “How dare you get between me and Felicia day?”

“Takest not that tone with me,” Russian-dictator-looking-Rothfuss glowers from above. “Lest I crush you with my manly, blue-lit beard.”

“Bring it Hagrid,” he replies. “I’ll beat you like a redheaded stepchild.”

“What are you going to use?” I say. “Your kung-fu grip? Hell, you don’t even have any elbows!”

Wait… Sorry, what was I talking about again?

Oh. Right. Coolness. I guess I lost a few points just there.

Anyway, as you can see things stand like this:

Me: 383 friends, 308 people following my reviews.

Felicia: 2,710 friends, 380 people following her reviews.

Not pictured above, Neil Gaiman sits at #1 on this list. Topping the chart on a mountain of cool with 5,175 friends and 3,133 people following his reviews.

Let’s just combine these for simplicity’s sake:

Gaiman: 8308

Felicia: 3090

Me: 691

Because the Facebook numbers are really high compared to Goodreads, we have to normalize them by multiplying by .045. (Don’t ask how I got there. It’s boring. If you understand statistics, you know how it works.) That gives us:

Gaiman: 4050

Felicia: 8550

Me: 450

So we add these together and apply the bonus multipliers.

Gaimain:
Medium Bonus – Novels, Comics, Movies, Audiobooks: *1.4

Association Bonus – Engaged to Amanda Palmer *1.5

Flair Bonus – Accent *1.4

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

12358 *1.4 *1.5 *1.4 *1.5 = 54499

Felicia:
Medium Bonus – Television, Webisodes, Comics: *1.3
(The Guild comic is coming out soon, in case you didn’t know.)

Association Bonus – Works with Joss Whedon *1.6

Flair Bonus – Smells like flowers and PS3 *1.3

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

11640 *1.3 *1.6 *1.2 *1.5 = 47212

Me:
Flair Bonus: Beard *1.2

Penalty: Engaging in imaginary smack talk with Lego-Wheaton. *.09

1141 *1.2 *0.9 = 1232

You still with me? Now we have to create our yardstick for the measurement of geek-coolness. Imagine if Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day were somehow alchemically combined into one creature. Some ubercool, sexy, hermaphroditic, webisode-creating, rockstar, gamer, author thing.

I think it’s safe to say that godlike creature would be the ultimate amalgam of geek cool.

So if we add together the scores of Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day, we get roughly 100,000 units. These I hereby term Gaiman-Day units. They will hereafter be used to determine how cool someone is. 100,000 Gaiman-Day units is the coolest you can be without collapsing into some manner of singularity.

So there we go. Now we have a way to quantify how cool I am, Jake. I am exactly 1232 Gaiman-Day units of cool. Only about one percent as cool as it’s possible to be.

I hope this answers your question, Jake.

pat

Also posted in facebook, Fanmail Q + A, Felicia Day, Neil Gaiman, Science, Wil Wheaton | By Pat113 Responses

Various and Sundry things.

A couple days after watching Prince Caspian and going all frothy about it, I watched Wall-E.

Pixar never fails to amaze me. I can’t help but wonder how, as a team, they manage continuous brilliance. Well… to be fair, Cars was merely great. But other than that, everything they do is just a different flavor of incredible. Constantly manufacturing a good creative product is hard enough. But constant excellence produced by a changing team. That’s nigh-impossible.

Frankly, I expect some manner of pact with dark powers.

Or, more likely, Pixar has something like cull-the-heard Wednesdays. Where once a week someone quietly wanders through the office and has a close look at everyone. Susan is doodling a palindromic sestina on her napkin at lunch – Check. Terry is spontaneously reciting pi to a song of her own creation while using the Xerox machine – Check. Dave is humming the theme song from “Land of the Lost” while sending out zombie invitations on Facebook….

On Thursday, when the other workers ask why Dave’s desk is empty, management explains that they transferred him to a nice animation studio out in the country where he’ll have plenty of room to run and play.

So… yeah. Suffice to say that if Pixar wanted the rights to make a movie of the book, they wouldn’t have to fight very hard.

Sarah and I have almost managed to put the fundraiser to bed. Tomorrow should be our last busy day. After it’s all done, I’ll post up some pictures, give the final donations totals, and talk about our plans for the future.

I won’t be posting up a list of winners and their prizes because that would involve me putting folks’ personal information up on the web without their permission, and that isn’t cool.

Also, I didn’t e-mail everyone who won, because it would have taken WAY too long. So you might have won something even if you haven’t heard from me. But don’t e-mail me and ask about it. Seriously.

In other news, I’m on Goodreads now. I’m not planning on spending a huge amount of time there, but you can add me as a friend if you’re into that sort of thing.

And lastly, could some tech-savvy person out there do me a bit of a favor? Namely, could you change my Wikipedia picture, preferably to one that makes me look slightly less like a serial killer?

I appreciate that someone went through the trouble of uploading a photo. And I don’t deny that it’s a fairly accurate depiction of how I look most of the time. But still, if there is going to be a picture of me, I’d rather it not look like something that was pulled from a pamphlet titled “How to Spot a Sociopath.”

Later all,

pat

Also posted in hodgelany, recommendations, social networking | By Pat30 Responses
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