The Paolini Family’s November Favorites

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I just finished reading Shadow & Claw , the first half of The Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe. It is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive sci-fi/fantasy books I’ve ever read. The prose is gorgeous: a unique and wonderful mixture of language that employs all sorts of ancient and otherwise unused words to evoke a far different time and place. I’m not done with the series yet, so I’m not sure how it’s going to end, but so far, I’ve found the story dark and mysterious and enthralling. The main character, Severian, is an apprentice torturer, but don’t let that put you off; the violence is handled discreetly and with tact, and while it’s an important part of the story, it never feels exploitative. In some ways Shadow & Claw reminded me of Jack Vance’s work but more cohesive, so if you enjoy that sort of thing, I think you’ll like this as well. Overall, I’d say the story and the world reminds me of a dream—a dream of gods and shadows and hidden meanings. A dream of questions and hard-fought answers.


The Young Visiters — Yes, the title of this movie is intentionally misspelled. This charming film is based on a book published in Britain in 1919. The author, Daisy Ashford, was only eight years old—hence the misspelled title! This whimsical romance is made even more endearing by Bill Nighy and Hugh Laurie, whose caricatures of nobility are hilarious. I loved the saturated colors and faux Victorian set design. This quirky film held my attention to the end.


My favorite things this month: hard drives—specifically external backup drives. Due to various circumstances I have migrated both my phone and computer onto new devices in the last two weeks. Thanks to the magic of redundant copies, the process was swift and painless. I use LaCie Rugged and My Passport hard drives, in addition to a handful of flash thumb drives, to keep things backed up.

Work doesn’t actually exist until it is backed up in some form—it is Schrödinger’s project. Maybe it will still be done tomorrow … maybe it will vanish and force you to start over from the beginning. When is the last time you did a backup? Quick! Do another! Hard drives have a high failure rate (around 20% fail in the first four years, and around 12% each year thereafter), so have backups of your backups. Do you have off-site backups in case of fire or flood? Pray, dear friend, go now and save your precious files!


We recently finished watching a Korean show, Rooftop Prince (옥탑방 왕세자; Oktab-bang Wangseja). Netflix sums it up as, “A crown prince is transported 300 years into the future, where he assumes a new identity to be near a woman who resembles his late wife.” So you have time travel, a murder mystery, love that spans hundreds of years, comedy, and the juxtaposition of ancient time to modernity. Yes, some of it was kitschy and ridiculous, but we got a lot of enjoyment from watching this twenty-episode show.

I finished the Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel video game and got all the achievements. The further I got into the game, the better it got. I enjoyed it, though I still consider Borderlands 2 my favorite of the three Borderlands games. It will be interesting to see what 2K Australia, 2K Games, and Gearbox Software produce for the DLC for the game. Borderlands 2 had four excellent DLC packs, along with the Ultimate Vault Hunter mode and Digistruct Peak Challenge.