Friday, March 13, 2015

All the Single Ladies: Equal Rites by Sir Terry Pratchett

I have been looking at this stack of books next to my laptop for several days now, putting off writing these reviews. With yesterday's passing of Sir Terry Pratchett, however, I have a new impetus. These certainly aren't the first Discworld books I've read, and definitely won't be the last. But for today, for this Cannonball, and for Sir Terry, I present these next three reviews in memorium.

Book: Equal Rites
Author: Terry Pratchett
Recommended for:  Dyed-in-the-wool feminists, beard fanciers, amateur magicians, and disaffected college students

 Everyone on Discworld knows that wizarding is passed on. It's a grand tradition that the eighth son of an eighth son will receive the magical potential of an aging wizard. This is known. And the wizards of Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork are nothing if not sticklers for tradition.

Imagine the consternation, then, when an aging wizard travels to the distant Ramtop Mountains and the village of Bad Ass to pass his magic to an eighth son just being born only to discover too late that this eighth son is a girl. To further complicate matters, the girl, Eskarina, grows up under the tutelage of Esme "Granny" Weatherwax who trains her in the finer arts of Witchery - which the wizards agree is fine for a woman, but it's not real magic.

The story follows Granny and Esk's adventures as they travel to the University to claim Esk's rightful place among the wizards of that lofty - or maybe just drafty - institution. Sir Terry sends up institutionalized misogyny in his own inimitable style and provides color commentary on a variety of other gender issues along the way. 

The constant charm of the Discworld books remains the fact that serious issues are confronted and scrutinized without sacrificing humor or getting preachy. Equal Rites is yet another shining example of Sir Terry's genius at opening our eyes to society's foibles. His voice is always appreciated, and will be terribly missed. 

Pick up your copy today.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Just a quick note, today.

I've been working on a new project for the last week or two, a wilderness survival website/blog that's geared towards those with a love for the wilderness but no practical training in survival. My hope is that I can help prevent someone having a simple hike in the woods turn into a tragedy.

I'm excited about where I can see this going. I've got my first post up over there, and I'd appreciate you checking it out: Wilderness Survival Basics: A 4-Step Survival Strategy

Monday, January 19, 2015

Just As You Wished

Book: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
Authors: Cary Elwes and Joe Layden
Recommended for:  Pie-in-the-sky romantics, adventurers, pirates, sots, and disaffected college students
If you're a reader of nonfiction books about movies and TV, you've likely run across the frequent disappointment (or delicious schadenfreude) of learning that a cast that thrilled us on the screen absolutely loathed one another off camera. It's a frequent enough tale that I approached this book - featuring one of my most-loved films - with a certain amount of trepidation. With a movie this delightful and a cast that seemed to have such fun together, it would be crushing to find out that it was only smoke and mirrors.

You'll be happy to hear, then, that all was well behind the scenes of "The Princess Bride". Mr. Elwes' retelling of his experiences in gaining the lead role of Westley through to the bittersweet final scene gives the distinct impression that filming the movie was every bit as fun as watching it. Indeed for the cast, paralleling the experiences of the characters, there were moments of danger (and injury), harrowing terror (comes from having an author on set), riotous laughter, travails of all kinds, unconscious giants, and falling in love.

I fear to say more would take away from your delight in hearing Mr. Elwes' stories for yourself. And you should. Without delay. Get it here.