Two things this month:
1. The comic Digger by Ursula Vernon. Digger, is the story of a wombat who travels through a strange, one-way tunnel and ends up in an unfamiliar land full of hyenas, bandits, demons, a dead god, an oracular slug, and much, much more. It’s a wonderful story, and one of the better fantasies I’ve read in the past few years. The main character, Digger, is refreshingly no-nonsense, even in the face of seemingly impossible magic, and she just seems like the sort of person (or wombat) you’d want watching your back in a tight spot. Highly recommended. The story is done and finished — it even won a Hugo! — and you can either read it for free on the web at diggercomic.com or you can order a hard copy and support the artist as well.
2. Staedtler’s Mars Lumograph series of pencils. Specifically the 7H and 8H. These are the best drawing pencils I’ve used. Why? Because the 7H and 8H don’t just use graphite, they use a mixture of lampblack and graphite, which allows for the deepest, velvety blacks I’ve found outside of charcoal. Plus, they don’t smudge as easily as charcoal, although they are harder to erase than just regular graphite. I used these pencils to draw the portrait of Brom for the 10th anniversary of Eragon, and I liked them so much, I’ve been using them exclusively since.
I often listen to audiobooks while cooking, doing housework, or walking on the treadmill. Kenneth loads audiobooks on my iPod, surprising me with assorted content. Last month I listened to John Scalzi’s new book, Lock In, which is a mystery set in a near future where a virus has caused many people to become trapped in bodies that can’t move. Scientists have found a way to allow these people to interact in the real world, but complications ensue. Scalzi put a lot of thought into creating his world and the consequences of mind/computer technological advances. Great job, John!
Immediately after listening to Lock In, the next book on my iPod was The Future of the Mind, by Michio Kaku. As I started to listen, I was astonished the realize that the author was talking about the same situation discussed in Scalzi’s book. What a coincidence! Dr. Kaku is a physicist and science fiction fan who takes his readers on an engaging journey through the brain and how it functions, reviews current research on mind/computer interfaces, and then takes us far into the future, pondering future tech and the possibilities for life among the stars. A mind-blowing read!
This month, most of my reading has been to catch up on the magazines I subscribe to. After taking several trips, I fell behind, so quite a stack was waiting for me.
One of my favorites is Wired. First and foremost a technology magazine, it keeps me up to date on the things that will soon be shaping our daily lives. It also has great investigative journalism articles covering science, medicine, politics, entertainment, and more.
National Geographic will always have a place on my reading list. It presents the latest research and exploration, from the bottom of the oceans to the most distant reaches of the universe—and everywhere in between. I’ve had many a story idea come from within its pages!
Spin-Off is another long-standing favorite. It is the only magazine about handspinning yarn that I know of! From interviews with spinning wheel makers to knitting projects to fiber history to profiles of yak farms, the articles are always interesting and illustrated with beautiful photographs.
I just completed all the achievements in the Just Cause 2 video game, which came out four years ago. Just Cause 2 is a tough game on Hardcore, but I had a blast playing it. I look forward to Just Cause 3 if Avalanche Studios makes it. It is deeply satisfying to hurtle towards the ground at terminal velocity and fire your all-purpose grappling hook to pull you toward the ground. You land with no splat. Yes!
I am also playing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel on Xbox 360. I’m a huge fan of Borderlands and Borderlands 2, got all achievements on both, and put lots of game time into all the playable characters. I am mid-game with Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and have not formed a full opinion of the game yet, although it is not pulling me in like the first two games. More on this later.