Monday, May 20, 2019

Richard Hummel's Radioactive Evolution

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I like mashups. They make me happy. So, say, if someone were to cross some LitRPG with a bit of Post Apocalyptic Fiction and maybe toss in a medical technology angle, I think I'd probably enjoy that. Uhh..

Wait...

Richard Hummel already did that.

Radioactive Evolution is a successful mix of all of the above. I really enjoyed this one. And for more than one reason.

I'm a fan of zombie fiction (and I've got a review coming as part of my Memorial Day event that is exactly that) but sometimes I think that modern day authors have forgotten that it's possible to do PA Fic without zombies. I'm glad to note that Richard Hummel remembers.

The Earth of Radioactive Evolution is not a friendly place, even if Jared, our main character, is a pretty friendly dude when he can be. The fact remains that most of humanity lives in the ruins of what went before. Radiation is so pervasive that humans that live on the surface have to have regular boosters of nannites in order to protect themselves from the radiation. The good news here is that they energy provided by the nannites powers their bodies and they have no need for food as long as they're someplace with a high radiation count. I'd hate to be an unaugmented human there, but as long as a person gets the nannites they need, they're okay. Of course, it's not always easy to get the boosters...

So yeah, conflict happens and the people on the surface suffer. They people of the Cities, which are in the sky, appear to be much better off. People on the ground resent them, even though they're the ones who make the boosters. So far, we don't know much about the people of the Cities and they're kind of cardboard cutouts, but this is the first book in a series and I'm thinking that Hummel didn't want to give up all of his secrets in the initial volume. That makes sense. Keeping some things to reveal later is how an author keeps his readers interested. I approve.

Part of what really kept me in this book is the LitRPG angle. Players of just about any MMORPG will recognize the process of improving a character and gradually becoming immune to what were once deadly threats. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a Young Kodiak in the West Commons or a Gorilla in Stranglethorn Vale, at some point the deadly threat becomes chump change. That happens here. Radioactive Evolution is a story of survival. It is a story of character progression and accepting responsibility.

It is also, however, a story of RPG style progression and building a character through fighting and gaining experience. The book refers to the process as absorbing and assigning nannites, but that's basically how it works. I like the method of progression too. If you played World of Warcraft during Vanilla or Burning Crusade and can read Radioactive Evolution and not scream "OH MY GOD TALENT TREE" at least once you're either superhuman or not paying attention. New abilities get added as Jared and Scarlet level up. And get this: It's not an artifact that gets taken away at the end of the expansion either.

*SIGH*

Nope. Not bitter. Why are you asking?

I don't really like to do spoilers, but if I don't mention that Jared finds himself a dragon to bond with early in the story then I'm not doing my job here. Scarlet is just too much a part of the story to leave out of a review. She's more intelligent than a human. She can evolve using nannites as well and she does... a lot. She has this weird function, where she's the carrier of ancient lore, but also doesn't know much about humanity. She's Spock mixed with Kess, with a side of Worf and maybe just a touch of Odo.  (If you're not a Star Trek fan you don't get that. I feel bad for you.)

Fans of the Post Apocalyptic genre will be familiar with the Mad Max type thing where what's left of the world consists of only one type of environment. I'm happy to say that's not the case here. We see cityscapes, wilderness, military compounds, flight and even underground tunnels. There's a lot of variety in places and things. Jared and Scarlet are constantly moving and experiencing different things and different threats. The threats are great, but so are the rewards.

And there are most definitely threats. If you feel safe at just about any point in this story, you're not paying attention. Even some of the things that shouldn't be dangerous are. Jared and Scarlet can run. They can hide. They can fight. The one thing it never makes sense to do is relax. Something is always out there. Something is always watching. In the world of Radioactive Evolution, getting lazy means taking unnecessary risks.

It's fun to watch the two grow together too. They start off not knowing much about each other. They start off not knowing much about each others' species. By the end of the book, they're very much friends and, while they still don't understand each other perfectly, they're getting figuring things out between them. They're learning to relate to others better as well.  I can't wait to see how close they get in the future.

And there will be a future. Or, maybe it's closer to the truth to say there already IS a future. The next book is already out and, while I'm not real sure if I like the fact that the titles are so close together (I recently received a link to the book. It's called Radioactive Revolution and when I first looked at it, I thought it was the same book) I really am excited to read it. There is a lot of story left to be told. I'm guessing there will be more than one sequel, but I haven't read the new one yet so I can't say for sure.

Seriously folks, this one is worth your time and money (Although Kindle Unlimited users can get it for free as part of your subscription). I'd definitely encourage you all to check it out.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Nannite Boosters

Radioactive Evolution
Richard Hummel
Hummel Books, 2018

Radioactive Evolution is available for purchase at the following link:

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Happy Stuff, Sad Stuff

(Author's Note: I'm typing this on my phone. I'll do my best to make it look like it was typed by an adult and not written in crayon by a three year old but my odds of success are dubious. )



So Chewbacca has joined his Princess in Heaven. This is a travesty. I've not met Peter Mayhew in person, but everything I've heard about him says that he was a gentle giant, kind to all and especially his fans.

Just as importantly to those of us who didn't know him personally, he was a larger than life icon. For many of us, he was a part of our childhood. Who didn't love Chewbacca as a kid? You'll be missed Mr. Mayhew. Take good care of our Princess.

In related (but much happier) news...



May the Fourth Be With You!


It's Star Wars Day! Let your Geek Flag fly!

Yes, we' re all a little melancholy because we lost one of our heroes. We should still celebrate. Let the greats never be forgotten! Wear your Star Wars gear! Post a meme! Play a Star Wars video game. Read a Star Wars comic. THIS IS ONE OF ONLY TWO DAYS OF THE YEAR THAT IS ALL ABOUT GEEKS! PARTY LIKE ROCK STARS!

Oh, did I mention days that are all about geeks? Do you know what today is?

(No, 90s R+B fans, it's not our anniversary.)

IT'S FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!

SUPPORT YOUR LCS!

(That's Local Comic Shop for all of you mundanes out there.)



Go get your free stuff and enjoy the party! I'm about to take my daughter out for it.

No links today because I know all of you are on the way to your LCS to support local businesses.

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Kai Wai Cheah's and Thomas Plutarch's Hollow City

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All is not well in Halo City. Gang bangers are on the loose. The Halo City Police Department is stretched thin and their ace in the hole, their superhero, their "Prime", Amp is having a rough time with Internal Affairs. Life is interesting, in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse. And Hollow City brings us along for the ride with the users, the losers, the accusers and the police cruisers.

So how do you make a bigger bad-ass than a Marine Raider? Well, first you start out with a Marine Raider, and then you give him super powers. I like this approach, because let's face it. Having superpowers and knowing how to use them are two very different things. Being able to throw lightning or fireballs is awesome. Being able to detect an enemy who thinks he is hidden is terrific. The fact remains that in order to take full advantage of those powers, a certain level of skill is required. Detective Adam Song has those skills in spades.

Seriously, I've been a fan of comics since the 80s and a fan of superhero novels for as long as I've known they existed. There are very few supers (whether hero or villain) that I'd fear more than Detective Adam Song. Not because he's a bad guy, but because he's flat out dangerous. He's not overpowered. He can Amp his senses up. He can move extremely quickly. Yes, Song is a powerful man, but that is not his only strength. Not only has he been to war, but that was before he developed his powers. He has a sense of what works and what doesn't for normal people. In a way, this makes him more dangerous than guys like Superman or Green Lantern, even though Song doesn't have anywhere near their power levels. Why? Because he can THINK. Every nerd thinks they have some hotshot, super slick method of defeating the hardest, toughest best trained, most experienced Special Forces operator with some goofy bullshit. They're wrong.

Song is a man who is bound by a different set of rules than the ones he is used to. Police work in Halo City is not combat in Iraq. The fact remains that a sense of what works and what doesn't and the experience gained by actual operations is invaluable to him. I like the fact that Cheah and Plutarch have made Song that way. He's not a hero that gained all of his gifts simply by chance. The man can think his way through an operation because he's been part of them before.

The action sequences in Hollow City are amazeballs. The fight scenes have a natural rhythm to them and they feel totally legitimate if you allow for the existence of superpowers. Things don't always go the way the heroes want them to, but that's life. There is a reason that Helmut von Moltke the Elder said that "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." The other side get its own input into the way things work out. Humans, including superheroes, are not perfect and there's plenty of that here as well. Song doesn't always select the perfect option. Often there IS no perfect option. Nonetheless, Song persisted.

And yet, although Song is superhuman, he's not all that far out of a normal human's experience. Dude has some serious pressures at work. He has a family that doesn't always believe in what he's doing. IT shows. He feels a duty to them anyway. His life is a mess of contradictions. It feels right. Cheah and Plutarch capture the essence of what it is to be human. Nothing in life happens exactly the way it should. Even less goes the way we want it to. Hollow City is a book that just makes sense.

There is a significant amount of intracity politics in this book. It adds a lot to the believability as well. Politicians will leave anyone out to dry if they think it will benefit their careers and Song is no exception. It's sad to see it happen, but it fits. I'm wondering where the Song character goes from here because things don't look good for him. The man has a strong sense of duty, but I'm not sure how well his sense of loyalty is going to survive the events of this novel. We could be looking at a rogue moving forward. I almost hope we are. If Song ends up fighting for the right things, but doing it from outside the establishment, the next installment is going to blow us all away.

But for now, I would urge you to sit down, strap in, and get ready for a wild ride. Hollow City starts off with a bang and it doesn't let up. I had a really slow day at work yesterday. I didn't make what I expected. I didn't care. I sat in parking lots reading this book all day and it made me happy. Of course, I eventually finished the book. My earnings didn't improve, but at least my mood was better than it could have been.  I hate to think about how cranky I would felt if I hadn't had this book to cheer me up.

*SIGH*

Yes, I know that addicts use drugs the same way, but since when were books not safe, legal and easily obtainable methods of distraction? I mean, seriously, a good book is better than a narcotic. Think about it.

Or maybe I'm just goofy.

I'm excited about this work though, and I'll tell you why:

Hollow City is a book in the Heroes Unleashed universe and is the first book in the Song of Karma series. I'm looking forward to more in both the universe and this series. I'll be looking into Cheah's  and Plutarch's other work soon as well. If they can write one book this well, there's a good chance he's written more of the same caliber. I'll admit to not knowing much (as in well, anything) about them before I read Hollow City, but I'll be finding out more. If anyone has a suggestion about which Cheah or Plutarch novel I should try next, go ahead and drop it in the comments.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Crooked Politicians

Hollow City
Kai Wai Cheah and Thomas Plutarch
Silver Empire, 2019

Hollow City is available for purchase at the following link:


 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Marvel's X Men: Magneto: Testament Review and Some Commentary

(This review and commentary will contain spoilers.)

I have a history degree. I am not often fond of the teachers out there (and they know who they are) who use fiction to teach it. As someone who was once forced to read a thirty page scholarly paper on what was wrong with The Last Samurai, I can assure you I'm not one of the most rabid in that conviction however. And, as someone who learned to love history by watching John Wayne movies and other World War Two flicks, I can assure you that there is some value in encouraging youngsters to watch fictionalized account of history even if I believe they should be kept out of the classroom.

Enter X-Men: Magneto: Testament. I found my first copy of the work in the gift shop of my local Holocaust Museum. I had heard about it, so I picked up a copy. Given the fact that I was at that Holocaust Museum researching a paper that I wrote about the involvement of the Heer (that's the German Army. The Wehrmacht was the German military as a whole) and just happened to stop into the gift shop on my way out almost definitely means that I should be consigned to the academic version of Hell. Fortunately for me, the place would be filled with comic books and fictionalized accounts and I would enjoy myself thoroughly. I mean, I never said I was a GOOD academic..

But anyway..

For all of its faults, X-Men: Magneto: Testament is a superb comic. This is not your typical fare though. Testament is not a World War II Era Captain America comic. There is no superhero coming out of the woodwork to massacre these Nazis the way they deserve. Testament is not some triumphalist narrative about beating the Fuhrer and his goons into submission with the power of one man's fists. In some ways, I wish that it were. I wish that it could be.

No, Marvel made their story much closer to the truth. The truth is that it sucked to be a Jew in Nazi Germany. The truth is that millions were murdered. The truth is that millions of people were mistreated not because they had done anything, but simply for existing. They were accused of living lives of wealth and privilege and annihilated. All of societies problems were blamed on Jews and they were slaughtered like cattle as soon as a chance arose.

Testament portrays that very well. It also portrays the patriarch of the family urging his family to go along to get along. To not resist so as to not invite a beating. What must have seemed reasonable at the time soon turned sour. Things get ugly quickly. But that's what happens when you appease an abuser. They may come for you last, but it's going to happen eventually, even if you acted as an ally.

The story is about one Max Eisenhardt, later known as Magneto. In the beginning he is a young boy with a desire to be like all the men in his family. He is learning, at the age of nine, to make jewelry. Soon, he is in school and excelling; both academically and athletically. He is tormented because of this and held to a higher standard because of his ethnic background. Eventually, he gets put into a camp.

Both before and during his imprisonment he continues to make decisions based on his fear of punishment. He won't retaliate for the treatment of his people because he is afraid of what the Nazis might do to him and to his brethren. What had started out as matter of words, of people complaining about the wealth and privilege of others, ends in the massacre of millions.

The ironic part being that even in his captivity, while hating every minute of it, he aids his Nazi captors. Magneto serves as a member of the Sonderkommando, (Special Command in English). They were the people who burned the bodies of the Jews, and others, who had been murdered.

Listen, I love comics. I have since I used to save up my allowance and ride my bike two miles to the Antique Paper Shop to buy back issues. I've used a lot of adjectives to describe my favorite comics: Entertaining, gorgeous, engaging, interesting, the list goes on and on. With the possible exception of gorgeous (and that because the art reflects the horror surrounding the main character. It is actually very well done) they all apply here. The one adjective I'm going to use that I never have before is powerful.

Testament is exactly what it claims to be.  It is a testament to what happened to the Jews under the Nazis. Yes, there are some historical inaccuracies to be sure (no one EVER survived two years as a member of a Sonderkommando for instance.) but the gist of the story is correct. Testament doesn't have the importance that something like The Diary of Anne Frank would have because it's not a first person account, but it may still be the most important comic ever published. Maus (which I just bought a used copy of but haven't read yet) is  probably up there, and there was an issue of Spiderman (help me out if you know which one) was the first one to ever deal with drug abuse,  (and no, comparing drug abuse to the Holocaust is not belittling the importance of either. They've both killed millions) but Testament deals with the Shoah (as the Jewish people call the Holocaust) in a way that nothing else ever has. Entertainment is not a good way to study the hard facts of a subject, but it attracts attention that no scholarly work ever will. Both are important.

Which leads me to two problems I have with Marvel right now. I'll deal with the less controversial one first.

Physical copies of X-Men: Magneto: Testament are currently out of print. I get that this isn't the newest and latest comic. It came out a decade ago. There are newer comics to promote and Testament doesn't really fit into the way that Marvel is re-releasing a lot of its older works. I got an e-book version on Amazon lately, so it's still available that way but it's mainly going to sell to people that go looking for it that way. A copy of Testament should be available in any Holocaust Museum/Memorial that attracts enough English speaking individuals for it to sell. That goes the same for speakers/locations appropriate to any languages Testament may have been translated into. I mean that. That's how I found out it existed. If I were Marvel, I'd do a run and market it specifically along those lines, as well as to any Local Comic Shop that wanted copies to sell. Why? Because it's a way for Grandma and Grandpa to get their teenage grandchild(ren) who don't read history to learn about the Holocaust. We can't let this be forgotten because if we do we're asking for it to happen again.

As for my second point:

Uhh... Marvel?

WHY IN THE EVERLOVING, UNDYING, INDECIPHERABLE FUCK ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE MAGNETO A MEMBER OF HYDRA?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Guys....

Really?

A FREAKING HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR AS A MEMBER OF A NEO-NAZI ORGANIZATION??

REALLY?

This is a bad idea. I mean, I get your point. You need a white dude to turn into a Nazi. It didn't work with Captain America so you thought you'd switch things over to another white guy in the form of Magneto. I get it. Here's what you're missing:

Not every Straight White Male is a Nazi. Nope. Not even a significant percentage of them. I mean, I get what the Social Justice Bullies demand but that doesn't mean you have to give in to them. You're losing a lot of respect from me here. This is unnecessary. It is sick. It is twisted. It is wrong. YOU ARE BLAMING THE VICTIM.

Seriously Marvel. I'm begging you. Don't do this. Not to your fans. Not to the general public. And damn sure not to the victims of the Holocaust. You're implying that they did it to themselves here. This is a step too far.

Bottom Line for X-Men: Magneto: Testament: 5.0 out of 5 Stars

X-Men: Magneto: Testament
Greg Pak, Carmine Di Giandomencio, Marko Djurdjevic
Marvel, 2009


The comics for  X-Men: Magneto: Testament are available for purchase at the link below:












Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Episode 9 Teaser is Here!



Listen, I know some of you didn't like The Last Jedi. I disagree. I thought it was excellent. I'm guessing that a lot of what went into TLJ was to set up the last movie. This is it.

I'm geeked to say the least. Did you hear what came at the end of the trailer? DID YOU HEAR PALPATINE LAUGH?

Hell yes, it's time for that. It's time to bring this thing full circle. All of you out there whining about how Palpatine's reappearance lessens Vader's sacrifice at the end of Return of the Jedi can pucker up and blow.

So yes, it appears that they may finally be depicting Rey as the badass she was always meant to be. I want to see her chop that TIE fighter in half, or maybe go through the cockpit and put her lightsaber into the pilot. What could be better?

I hate the fact that I have to wait for Christmas to see this.

OH, and by the way...

Disney as announced that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the end of the Skywalker saga. In some ways, that makes me sad. In others it makes me happy.

Listen, I was late to the party. I didn't go see Episode IV in the theater because I was still in diapers when it came out. I couldn't even walk yet. I wasn't much older when The Empire Strike Back hit. So, as a result of an accident of birth, I didn't get to see a Star Wars flick until Return of the Jedi. As a result, I've ONLY been watching Skywalkers dance across my screen since 1983. I'm a virtual n00b.

The fact remains that I've known this family for thirty-six years. We've hung out together in movie theaters, living rooms and bookstores for that whole time. I love these guys and I always will. I am, in short, a fanboi. Knowing that the line is ending and I won't be able to follow them into the future makes me sad.

That much having been said, I'm also kind of excited. I loved The Force Awakens, but I'll be the first to admit that it didn't really need to end with the destruction of another F(*&()&()()&*()*()ING Death Star. I loved The Last Jedi but the attempts to remake the Battle of Hoth weren't my favorite thing either.

Look, it's like this: The classics are the classics. They came about in my childhood and they'll always be a part of who I am. I love them. I don't, however, see a need to redo them. A new story with new heroes and new villains requires a new plot. The benefit of ending the Skywalker saga is that we can stop redoing the same old things and start a different story in the same universe.

I mean, I agree with many of my friends who state that Star Wars is, and should remain, more than just a propaganda tool for the social justice left. I'm not proposing taking things down that route. I'm just saying that it's a big galaxy and there are more people in it.

So let's get HYPE!!!! It's time to do what has never been done. It's time to show us all what might come next in the official canon. It's time! It's time! It's Star Wars TIME!!

Some Star Wars related objects are available for sale at the links below:








Friday, March 22, 2019

David Weber's Through Fiery Trials


This is the series that never ends...
Yes, it goes on and on my friends
Some people started reading it not knowing what it was
And they'll continue reading it forever just because
This is the series that never ends...

All smart-aleck remarks aside, I'm really glad this series didn't end because the end of the last book, At the Sign of Triumph, it really looked like it could. I mean, there was obviously a lot of work to do and another war (or more) to fight, but it's not like the illustrious Mad Wizard Weber

*rises from his chair and places his hand over his hearth*

Whom I loves and respects.

*Sits back down*

Hasn't left us all dangling with a lot more story left to tell after the initial Big Bad gets theirs. (I won't say Prince Roger if you don't.)  Fortunately though, there was an afterward that said the story wasn't over. It turns out it really wasn't.

I was kind of surprised with this one. Anyone who has read much Weber at all (and I definitely include myself in that group) is used to massive amounts of combat. Weber's best known series is, after all, the Honor Harrington novels which take place over a series of wars and star a naval officer who has a well-earned reputation for always being at the center of the battle. The crazy thing about Through Fiery Trials is that it's not combat heavy.

The other key component to Weber's writing has always been political maneuvering and there is a lot of that here. The planet of Safehold (and this is the tenth book in the Safehold series) has just come through a long period of religious war and a schism in the church that the entire population had been part of. Things are getting better for the most part, but if Cayleb and Sharleyan, the leaders of the winning side in the war, want to see what they fought for come to fruition it's going to take some work after the fighting stops.

That's the main thrust of Through Fiery Trials. It's not all just Cayleb and Sharleyan. This is the first Safehold novel to not feature a Dramatis Personae and I'm wondering if that's strictly because of space considerations, because the cast hasn't gotten any smaller. The thing is that the huge cast and the enormous world is what makes Weber's work really function.

Safehold is a living breathing world. Through Fiery Trials bounces across the globe keeping up with everything that is happening. It's apparent that Weber has spend a long time and a ton of effort producing this book and indeed the entire series. Each chapter begins with a header telling us where we are. Then we find out what characters we're there with. It takes a bit of getting used to if you haven't read something this epic but once you do, it's awesome. I love Harry Turtledoves work for much the same reason. No epic story, especially a war or the recovery afterward, can be well covered by only one character and their point of view. There are forces at work that are incomprehensible even to the people that are trying to control them and the Law of Unintended Consequences fully applies. Only by showing thirty two gagillion points of view can one attempt to make a balanced view of a massive war. Weber does that like a champion.

Now, it does have to be mentioned that this is the tenth book in a series that doesn't show any sign of ending anywhere in the foreseeable (at least to me) future. I really do recommend starting with the first book and working your way through because it's easy to miss things when you HAVE read all the books and you DO know what's going on. Coming in mid-stream is going to be rough and the earlier books are each worth your time in their own right. Seriously, start this thing where it starts because there is too much to try and backfill on your own.

There were a couple of moments in Through Fiery Trials that had my heart pounding. Weber seems to like toying with his audiences emotions. Now, that's a good thing in a writer but few are this good at it. Of course, part of the problem is that I try to predict what's going to happen next and in a few cases things I could tell that things were about to go horribly awry but I wasn't sure what or how. Actually, in at least two case I WAS sure how, but I was wrong. But still, this is not a book for the weak at heart. It put me through the ringer. Oh shit moments abound so be ready for them.

My one complaint about Through Fiery Trials is the same complaint I've had about every Safehold novel and will continue to have in the future: The names in the book suck. I'm being dead serious when I say that. One of my biggest pet peeves in all of literature is when authors change things and mess with language just to say they did it. Mr. Weber decided that due to a millenium plus of linguistic drift he'd make all of the names look weird and it works. They certainly do look weird. It can be kind of a pain though. I've known how to read for over thirty-five years now and having to sound out the name of a character in a book can be a bit annoying. It doesn't kill the story for me. If it didn't I wouldn't still be here ten books in. The fact remains that the stories would be better without it.

All in all though, Through Fiery Trials was awesome. I can't wait for the next one and Weber has set it up nicely. I know Weber uses history as source material and I'm wondering if one particular group of people is going to do what I think they're going to do based on history. I hope not, because if so the bloodletting is going to be massive. Then again, they're not real people and wars are what Weber does best. I guess I'll find out eventually. Sooner would be better.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Riot Batons

Through Fiery Trials
David Weber
Tor, 2018

Through Fiery Trials is available for purchase at the following link:

A Night With Jeremy McCarter

(Author's Note: This post is dedicated to my daughter Riley.)



First off, a word about my daughter Riley. (That's her in the middle.) Other people have teenage kids who run all over town causing problems and giving their parents no end of heartache. I have a teenage kid who asks her dad to take her to meet an author. I'll take my kid over one of those kids any day and twice on Sunday. I'm pretty proud to have a daughter who acts right and knows respect. It helps that I like Hamilton too, but I'd be proud anyway.

Oh, did I mention Hamilton? Listen, I know that like elebenty bajillion of you probably already know all about the musical (and don't call it a play in Riley's presence, especially if I'm standing next to you.) but for those of you that don't, it's a play about Alexander Hamilton (yes, the ten dollar bill guy) with a soundtrack dominated by hip hop tracks. I haven't had a chance to actually see the show, but the soundtrack is amazeballs.

Anyway, Jeremy McCarter is the guy in the picture and he literally wrote the book about Hamilton.

*SIGH*

Who died and made you an English teacher? Yes, I mean literally literally. Look at this thing:


Do you see his name listed on the cover? Do you know why? It's BECAUSE HE WROTE THE DAMN BOOK!!!

Yes, I have been interrupted in the past by people telling me I was using the word "literally" when I meant "figuratively" why do you ask?

Come to think of it, why did they ask? Was it their business?

Anyway..

It was a great time. If you get a chance to hear Jeremy speak, go. Seriously. He's smart. He's funny. I think I'm supposed to say "He's gracious" when what I mean is "He's really cool" but he's both so I guess you can take your pick of the two and assume that's what you read. I'm good either way.

Jeremy has a ton of funny stories about the making of Hamilton and he's met all of the original cast, so he's got a lot to talk about. He also had a hand in the making of the musical itself, although he served more as a person who encouraged Lin Manuel Miranda than as a true creator, but it was still fun to hear about.

Seriously, I'm really sad that I'll never get to her Lin singing Helpless. I bet that was a hoot. I mean, it was part of the demo of the music, so it'll never get released but imagine if it did. How awesome would that be?

Anyway, I got to interact with Jeremy just a bit because there was a question and answer session at the end of the presentation and also because he signed my book. See?


I don't think he believed me when I told him I'd been a fan of hip hop since the early 80s, but whatever. I get told that I look younger than I am all the time. (Seriously. I'm Fogey-Two and everybody tells me I look like I was in my twenties. I really did rock out to Run DMC's Raising Hell and had to save my allowance for over a month to get He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, back when they still called him The Fresh Prince.)

I thanked Riley after the program for asking me to take her. It was a good time and something I would have missed if she hadn't told me about it. Oh, and I didn't thank anyone from the Troy (MI) Public Library for scheduling it, or the Troy Community Center for hosting it, but I will so here:

THANKS GUYS!!

Oh and thank you to the Friends of the Troy Library for raising the funds to make it possible. Feel free to visit their Donation Page. Maybe leave a little something while you're there. They can use the help and they've earned it.

Oh, if it seems a bit weird that I dropped a donation page for a group I don't even belong to in the first place just realized that there was no admission charged for this event and I'm sure getting Jeremy in from his home in Chicago was not free. I'm just trying to help them make some of it back.

And of course, thanks to Jeremy McCarter for coming out and giving the talk in the first place.

For my part, I'm just happy that I got to do something like this with my daughter.

She was talking to her friend Malia at dinner (of course we had to eat something before we went) and they were all excited about going. Something about "We've been talking about doing Hamilton stuff for months." I think I may have fudged the quote a little bit actually. As a divorced dad I don't get to see my kids anywhere near as often as I'd like and stuff like this is really cool because I get to share a moment.

I will say this much though:

If this kid tries to keep me from listening to Guns and Ships in my car one more time, she's grounded. I have no idea how I'd make that stick since I don't live with her but I grew up on Bone Thugs 'N' Harmony and I like the fast rapping. Darn it kid!

As for the book itself, I haven't read it yet. I picked up a copy from the talk last night (several copies were brought in for sale by the local Barnes and Noble)  and I will say that the pictures of the original cast inside are incredibly awesome. I guess I should have expected that from a production of this magnitude, but I found myself surprised. The last time I saw a book this gorgeous was back when I got a trade paperback about the Annie movie back in the 80s. Really. The work that went into designing these pages really paid off.

Bottom Line:

For the Troy Public Library: 5.0 out of 5 Stars
For the Friends of the Troy Public Library: 5.0 out of 5 Stars
For the Troy Community Center: 5.0 out of 5 Stars
For Jeremy McCarter: 5.0 out of 5 Stars
and
For my daughter Riley: 4.75 out of 5 Stars
(Next time, I bet she lets me play Guns and Ships!)

Hamilton: The Revolution is available for purchase at the following link: