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Over the past several months, I've been spending time immersing myself in things other people have told me they think I'd enjoy -- books and TV shows, mostly. My thoughts:

30 Rock: Not bad. I don't think it's ever going to supplant Sports Night as my favorite "TV show about a TV show", though. I'll admit the plots are usually more entertaining than Sports Night's, but I really love SN's dialogue. The good thing is that the episodes are short and easy to locate online, which makes this the perfect show for watching when you need something to do for half an hour. I've gone through most of the first season at this point.

Doctor Who: Have watched first season, and a bit of the second at this point. I'm sure there are multiple people reading this who are going to yell at me, but I'm not really a fan. It's not bad in the slightest, and there were certainly enjoyable moments, but I had constant trouble actually caring about the characters. I also have difficulty in trying to file this show mentally; my brain wants to define it as Sci-Fi, but it's Sci-Fi that (as far as I can tell) has no coherent vision of the future and no real focus on technology. It was suggested to me to actually try thinking of the show as fantasy set in space, but that didn't really work either. Another problem is that I prefer my TV shows to have overarching plotlines, whereas Doctor Who (at least this first season) is rather enamored with hopping all over time and space and doing something different every week. There's nothing wrong with this approach in terms of style, but it makes it really difficult to flesh things out. I'd prefer in-depth analyses of one place rather than the "Let's go somewhere wacky and new!" feeling that each episode starts with. It's entirely possible this changes in future episodes, though -- I do have multiple seasons I still need to watch, if only for geek cred.

Watchmen: is awesome. Not quite sure why I never got around to reading it before. Also unsure how to best express just how amazing it is. Only thing I'd like to know: can someone explain to me why the character of Rorschach is so popular? I mean outside of the series. The guy is a psychopathic vigilante who thinks violence is the answer to pretty much every problem. Did this somehow become an enviable characteristic while I wasn't looking, or is there something about the guy that I'm missing? Or is it just that he's the most memorable character?

S.M. Stirling's Emberverse novels: Oh. My. God. It's only happened to me twice before where I've fallen in love with a series from moment one, and known instantaneously that I will read every single book set in that world, probably buy most if not all of the novels, and spend ridiculous amounts of time re-reading the series whenever possible. The first two times were Feist's Riftwar Saga and Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. This is the third. I will freely admit that I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic works in general, but this series is in a class of its own. I'll confine myself to talking about the original three novels (Dies The Fire, The Protector's War, and A Meeting At Corvallis), since they're really what got me hooked. The subsequent works (2 at this point, with 2 more coming) are also excellent, but still seem like a small step down from the first three.

One of the things I like best about post-apocalypse-style novels, TV shows, and movies is that they force the writer to not only create a new world of their own, but to figure out how that world came to exist from out of the current one. It's something that too few writers pay attention to, IMO, and Stirling is to be credited for actually paying attention to the transition; all of the first book deals with events directly after The Change; it's only in the second and third novels that we see how the world has adapted to this momentous event. I also really enjoyed the occasional jokes Stirling threw into the works and the numerous references to nerd culture and literature (my personal favorite was the idea of translating "The Ballad of Eskimo Nell" into Sindarin).

The storyline is excellent, albeit with a couple of plodding sections, but what I really enjoyed was the research Stirling obviously put into writing these books, as well as his attention to little details. In a lot of ways, I prefer world-building and description rather than actual plotline in the stuff I read; I've had this aspiration of writing an entire history of a fictional world, with side chapters branching out into specific aspects of culture, literature, and social changes. It would never be publishable, since there would be no real plot, but I think it would be a hell of a lot of fun to write. Also a hell of a lot of work (I suspect notes/random things to explore/figure out would take up a small book on their own).

Comments, opinions, statements of "You're an idiot, and here's why" are all welcome.


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