January 12th, 2011



Since starting my new job means I can commute by train rather than drive, we decided that having 2 cars was a luxury we could no longer justify or afford, so it was with a heavy heart I decided to sell my old Almera.

To be fair, it has done it's job well - it's got 111,000 miles on the clock, and I reckon I've driven about 90k of those. It's taken us to Cornwall several times, Scotland, Wales, all over the place.

It's been making some funny noises though, and I'm sure the suspension is borked, so I was worried the imminent MOT would be pretty costly. Spoke to our friend Michael who runs a 2nd hand car business, who said we might get £200-300 with no MOT at the auctions, possibly twice that with an MOT.

We agreed that he'd put it through the auctions tonight, but best to give it a clean first, make it look presentable. So I took it to the car wash.

Car wash over, turned the key and...


Damn thing died on me!

I pushed it out of the car wash and went to phone K's dad. Unfortunately I had left my mobile at home (K uses it for the internet in the evenings), so had to ask the garage dude if I could use their phone.

Luckily K's dad has various jump leads, so managed to get me going again. I dropped the keys off with Michael last night, and he's going to take it to the auction today.

Be glad to see the back of it now!

books of 2011

As with previous years, I'm going to start tracking what I've been reading during the year. Also keep track of what's next on the To Read List etc.

Caveat: Links go via my Amazon Associates account, which has earned me the grand total of 85p since I set it up several years ago. Links go to paperback versions where possible. Feel free to click & buy, or go direct to Amazon if you don't agree with this sort of thing. :-)

Without further ado...

Books of 2011:

This is Not a Game, by Walter Jon Williams
Once upon a time, there were four of them. And though each was good at a number of things, all of them were very good at games ...But when one of them is gunned down in a parking lot, the survivors become players in a very different kind of game - one that is played for the highest stake of all. Now they must draw on all their resources - not least millions of online gamers - to track down the killer. Imagine a game with no boundaries. Waiting in a parking lot, sitting at your computer, walking down the street - you could be called at any moment, and you'd better be ready. This is not a game. This is a novel that will blow your mind.
OK, so my mind wasn't quite blown. It's an entertaining romp through the world of the ARG. Likeable characters, interesting situations, but there are points where the plot goes 'whu?' and you wonder why stuff is taking so long. Bit like in Harry Potter and the Endless Camping, where H, R & H spend *weeks* bumming around in tents rather than, you know, doing something useful. That said, I quite enjoyed it, polished it off in a couple of days.
If you want a really good book (or books) on games, look no further than Larry Niven & Stephen Barnes superb Barsoom Series -
Dream Park, The Barsoom Project, and The California Voodoo Game. All of which are brilliant.

Next up (normally I'll go for a post each):

, by Scott Westerfield

Two opposing forces are on the brink of war. The Clankers - who put their faith in machinery - and the Darwinists - who have begun evolving living creatures into tools. Prince Aleksandar, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, comes from a family of Clankers, and travels the country in a walker, a heavily-fortified tank on legs. Meanwhile Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, works for the British Empire, crewing the ultimate flying machine: an airship made of living animals. Now, as Alek flees from his own people, and Deryn crash-lands in enemy territory, their lives are about to collide...
Oh, I loved this one. Utterly absorbing, splendid alternate-history worldbuilding, enjoyable and engaging characters and a plot which fairly zings along. Only downside was that I didn't realise it was the first in a series, so left on somewhat of a cliffhanger! Aimed at the YA market, but none the worse for it. Highly recommended.

currently reading