Travels while Travelling

If you’ve ever hung out with me much and heard my talk about Michael Crichton you’ve probably already heard my story related to my first reading of this book when I was around 12 years old. I had started reading Crichton in 4th grade and was just devouring book after book of his. I had never much been into autobiographies, and I still am not, but this is one of my favorite Crichton books, fiction or non-fiction. Even though this didn’t seem like any of his other science fictiony/technological horror books I was more interested to learn about the author himself. As you can guess from the title this book involves what Crichton’s experiences were up and traveling across the planet trying to learn more about himself and humanity as a whole.

The story I alluded to earlier happened when Crichton was in Africa. I was on a road trip with my family somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and as often was the case, and still is, I came across a word that I was not entirely familiar with. The word was Clitoris. There was some African children that were walking down the road in white dresses headed towards a ceremony where they would have their genitalia mutilated. Crichton described the strangeness of the scene and since this was before the time of smartphones or even Personal Computers really, I had to ask my parents what the hell Clitoris meant. My mother immediately snatched the book away from me aghast at what exactly it was that I was reading. I was naturally very upset and didn’t understand what I had done wrong. It also didn’t help that they never told me what exactly the word meant. Eventually after reading parts of the book herself my mother gave it back to me and let me finish the book. But it’s a funny anecdote that I’m sure I will tell for the rest of my life. So when I picked up this book for a re-read on my current travels to Hawaii, I was pretty damn excited to see what it was like reading this book 20+ years later. I was surprised at how much I actually remembered and how specific my memories of reading them when I was 12 were. As soon as I started reading chapters everything that was going to happen would rush back into my mind. It didn’t hamper my enthusiasm for the re-read at all though. I stayed up about 2 hours later than I wanted to last night finishing the book and it was so so good. It was remarkable the amount of things Crichton talks about in Travels that actually relate to my current life. He talks a lot about consciousness and figuring out who he was as a person. He even devotes a lot of the book to his exploration of meditation, auras, physic phenomenon, and so on. I, along with my wife, have been interested in this same sort of exploration over the past few years. It was really kind of crazy how much it paralleled to certain things happening in my own life. A lot of the things he does and Travels he takes were happening to him at around the same age I am now.

I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed re-reading this book. I have been doing a re-read of all of his works over the last few years and this book has really amped up my excitement to continue that re-read and get into more of his books I enjoyed so much as a grade school and middle school kid. Here’s a pick of me chillazin’ in Hawaii.

Joe Hawaii Yoda.jpg

Two for One: Eragon and Scoundrels

I haven’t gotten around to reading any Crichton lately, because I really haven’t been in the mood, but I still have been doing lots of reading and I have finished two books in the last few weeks. As I’ve gotten older I noticed that I tend to go through phases with reading, I will read a lot and want to read a lot for a few months or so and then I will not read at all for a while. I’m hoping that I can make this current reading phase that I am in last longer than a few months and finish up the initial draft of my novel while I’m at it. The wife and I are doing the camp Nanowrimo in July and if I can stick with it I will make my goal of 100k words total on my novel by the end of the camp. I already have several Alpha readers lined up and I am ready to start my first of many revisions, this ball needs to keep on a’ rollin. So with that this will be a two for one blog on Eragon and Scoundrels, fair warning there will be spoilers ahead for both of these books.

First a shot from my hotel room where I recently spent a week and a half in Kona Hawaii.

View from Hilton in Kona

The epic views of the Pacific were a great setting to finish this book up and I look forward to reading the others in the series sometime soon. Overall I really enjoyed the book even though I have read many others that are set in high fantasy worlds with Dwarves, Elves, Dragons, Magic and the like. It was very much a YA fantasy novel, much in the same genre that I hope to market my own book. My book will have considerably less Dwarves, Elves, and Dragon riders. But I do plan on keeping at least some Dragons around, but there will be no riding of them allowed, maybe… Eragon is the name of the main character who, while out on a hunting trip in some mountains surrounding his tucked away little farm where he lives with his Uncle and Cousin, finds a mysterious stone that appears out of nowhere. He was looking for something to eat and not a strange glowing stone so promptly tries to trade it for a bunch of meat to help his family survive the winter. It does not go well at the butchers but the blacksmith swoops in and hooks him up in exchange for some help at the Forge over the next year. Eragon gladly accepts and heads back to his farm with the haul that will help them make it through some tough times. Everything seems to be going fairly fine until the strange rock decides to hatch one night and blammo, Eragon now has a full-fledged Dragon to look after. It grows really fast, making it hard to keep a secret and after asking the local old Curmudgeon in town about Dragons, Brom, gives him a list of all the previous Dragons names and keeps asking very pointed questions about Dragons. Eragon consults with the Dragon who he can now communicate with telepathically and they decide her name will be Saphira. Saphira is my favorite character in the book and as things keep happening at a fairly quick pace all throughout their adventures she seems to grow as a character along with Eragon of course. Lots of bad things happen very quickly, some bad guys come and kill his uncle and destroy his farm so Brom and Eragon head off after them seeking revenge. Along the way Eragon learns he can perform magic and also learns the finer points of fighting by practicing every day with Brom, he even learns how to read. Lots of other fun and interesting things happen along the way and I would greatly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially YA fantasy. Next up Scoundrels! But first a picture of the best beach I have ever been on, Hapuna beach on the Kona side of Hawaii.

Hapuna Beach Kona

Scoundrels is the latest Timothy Zahn Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, since Disney has taken over the Star Wars franchise they gave the EU some sort of new name but I forget what it is. This isn’t my favorite Zahn novel in the Star Wars universe but after a slow start the book really picked up for me and had a really crazy twist ending I didn’t see coming. The book is framed around a Heist, think Oceans 11 but instead of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are running the show. Chewbacca along with a bunch of other characters are thrown in to liven things up and we get a little more detail on exactly how Lando came into Cloud City and what the old beef between he and Han was. There was a prequel novella included at the back of the book which I didn’t get to until about halfway through the novel, I wish I would have read it first because it really helped set things up and introduce some of the other cast that appears in Scoundrels.

I decided to pick up Justin Cronin’s The Passage after I finished Scoundrels and I have not been the least bit disappointed. It has really been hard to put down and I look forward to reading more as soon as I finish up this blog post! After that I am thinking of finishing Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy to help myself get back into the Sci-Fi writing groove. I started Camp Nanowrimo today and have about half my word goal for the day completed, I will write a little more before bed. That is all for now, I will probably update the blog next when I get the Michael Crichton Experience timeline up to speed, hopefully soon. Also I am disappointed the USA team lost to Belgium today but glad that Soccer got a little bit of the headlines I love the World Cup and I have my own personalized USA jersey to prove it!

jersey