Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Sword by Bryan M. Litfin

Maybe I shouldn't be publicizing this too much, but has an "Early Reviewer" program through which publishers distribute free advance copies of their books to readers who agree to write reviews. I believe the recipients are chosen (at least in part) by computer, but readers get to chose which books they'd be interested in reading (out of around 100 titles, with thousands of copies available, many physical copies, but sometimes e-books.) The more titles a LibraryThing member has reviewed, the greater the chance of snagging a book from the newest monthly offerings.

That said, I was excited to read the description of the new book The Sword. In fact, I thought it unlikely to get that specific book, so I had it pre-ordered from Amazon (release date is the end of April), but then canceled it when I found out I was getting an advance proof copy for free, which I received about 2 weeks before the release date. Now, far be it for me to complain about a free book, but the Table of Contents reads "Map - page 11" and page 11 reads "Map to Come." Thankfully, after reading the first 125 pages, I found a copy of the map on the publisher's website that I printed and stuck in, myself.

The first thing that struck me when I got my copy (physical, I don't do e-books) was the centuries-old car nestled between pine trees on the cover. It's clearly incongruous to the rest of the cover, and basically sums up the setting of the novel (the first in a projected trilogy). In the year 2042, most of humanity is wiped out by a supervirus, followed by a nuclear holocaust. Author Bryan Litfin grabs the readers attention from the first page as this virus rapidly eradicates most life on Earth. The prologue reads like a vivid summary of Stephen King's The Stand, followed by a Sarah Connor-esque description of nuclear holocaust (without the cyborgs, of course). Jump about 350 years ahead and, to borrow the author's words, "The world of cars and guns and computers had become, once more, a world of horses and swords and scrolls." As far as I can recall, it's the first fantasy-type novel I've ever read that is specifically set in the future. Although I've characterized it as fantasy, Litfin calls it epic adventure:

He also had a couple of other tidbits to add when I emailed him:

It is pronounced Shi-vice. It is a form of the German word for Switzerland, or Schweiz. (the w is like a v). The novel takes place in the Swiss Alps around the area of Interlaken. The places are all real...mountains, valleys, waterfalls, rivers, etc. The cathedral on the cover is Strasbourg, France.

I love the multiple meanings of this book's title. Ephesians 6:17 tells us to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. I know these words were not originally written in English, but I find it fascinating that "sword" and "word" are almost identical.

The book ended up not focusing as much on The Bible (found in a cathedral in the Strasbourg cathedral after a series of encounters drives the a farm girl and a military scout far north from their home) as I had expected, but as the author said, this is an action/adventure story. The book they find is the device that drives their experiences, but also spurs personal growth and forgiveness between characters. They suffer a through a chain of challenging circumstances and the story ultimately ends on a cliffhanger, like any beginning of any good trilogy.

Some other reviews I've read compare this book to A Canticle for Liebowitz, which I haven't read, but I now plan to read after snagging a copy from

The only real complaint I can make isn't the story, but the publishers choice to bind the book with a laminated cover. These are the covers that separate and peel when it gets warm and humid, and this one has already begun to do that. Hopefully they'll change this before the next installment hits bookshelves in April 2011.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

2nd Roll

Here is roll 2 from the Holga. Shot with the 6 x 4.5 mask instead of 6 x 6, meaning you get 16 instead of 12 shots from 1 roll. Unfortunately I someone had the switch on the bottom of the camera on "B" instead of "N". This means instead of 1/100 shutter speed exposure, the shutter stayed open as long as my finger held the button down. Clearly this is long enough to cause the image to blur. Here are the few that are at least interesting, though not like I hoped.

Not sure why these have streaks across the top. Most likely reason I can figure is that this is the effect of the sunlight hitting the lens directly. Although they seem oddly straight for a lens flair. I suppose there could have been a light leak or something when I was unloading it, since this was at the end of the roll.

Monday, April 5, 2010

First roll from the Holga

I was thrilled with the prints I got back from my first roll of 120 film with the Holga. (The second roll is a different story, for later, perhaps.) I should probably rescan these to try to get less dust in some of the images, but this is good enough to get the idea across, I think.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday to Sunday

All rights belong to Poor Old Lu and Tooth and Nail Records. Just buy the CD if you like it. The other ones are out of print but equally worth owning. I plan to write more on the band in the future if I can find the words. In the meantime, I think these lyrics deserve special attention. It's a story about a group of people who put all their hopes in one man, only to have those hopes dashed when that man died, and what they must have felt during the next 36 hours. They'd experienced Friday, but they didn't know that Sunday's coming.

Darkness fell across the land
Our hope fell in the sand
And there it was
Though for certain we stood still
The earth shook and spilled
Then gave it up
Could we believe our eyes
When life has tossed us aside?
So turn and hang your head
He is given up for dead
And so am I

So give me the light to understand
The fight to comprehend the whys
So give me the mind to step ahead
When I hear what You’ve said and hide

The night turned to day
The days fade away
And so it was
The hours wouldn’t pass
And forever couldn’t last
We gave it up
We were fixed on the door
Waiting for… is this a dream?
Tell us how to feel
Can it be that this is real?
What am I?

So give me the light to understand
The fight to comprehend the whys
So give me the mind to step ahead
When I hear what You’ve said and hide

We once were full of hope to know
He’s opened up our eyes
But if He walks across the sea
What does any of it mean
If He has died

But the stone was rolled away
And the angel came to say
He’s alive, He is alive
But the stone was rolled away
And we just have to say
He’s alive

So give me the light to understand
The fight to comprehend the whys
So give me the mind to step ahead
When I hear what You’ve said and hide