Bloody Bear Reading Corner: 14 Hours And 500+ Pages Without Power

What does a bear do when the power goes out right at the best moment of Transformers Dark Side of the Moon?

A bear wonders how long the power will be out after checking the breaker box.

A bear would check to see if the neighbors have power, but the neighbors are in the distance and it was very hot for a bear to be walking in just to see if the neighbors had power.

A bear realizing that he has no internet pulls out his trusty phone that he never uses because it does have internet, files a complaint about the power, sees that he is not the only bear affected, checks the estimated time for completion…3 hours not so bad

A bears pulls out the book he had started the day before Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. Sometimes for this bear life has a strange way of connecting one thing with another without realizing it. Such as there is a TV show called the Expanse, that I was thinking about watching. I found Leviathan Wakes which turns out is the basis for the show, I did not know this at the time. After finishing Leviathan Wakes in 10 hours, I plan on watching the show AND I plan on picking up the other books in the series.

Leviathan Wakes is the polar opposite of Robopocalypse. Where Robopocalypse is told through the eyes of several characters in tiny snippets leaving much for the reader to put together, Leviathan Wakes is told through alternating chapters of two primary characters. There is plenty for the reader to imagine. The story however is all there and what a story Leviathan Wakes is.

A science fiction space opera with a very detailed world, Leviathan Wakes also has a mystery and elements of horror. Suffice to say, I believe there is something for everyone, character development, space battles, horror, mystery, deep story line, good plot, and there is room for more.

Without giving much away, Leviathan Wakes begins with a kidnapping, which is where Detective Miller joins the book, looking for the missing person. Jim Holden, working on an ice hauling ship investigates another mystery. As the book progresses the two characters come together for something much larger than the initial kidnapping and mystery.

The primary setting is the Belt a series of space stations in an asteroid belt. That being said, Earth and a colonized Mars get involved making what starts out as small story turn large in a similar way how Star Wars began small and turned large revealing a universe much bigger than expected.

This bear is slightly glad for the power outage, because I had something I don’t normally think I do, time to read. Leviathan Wakes is a page turner, not in that mindless manner that many page turners are, but in a “I have to know what happens.” I got invested in the story and all of the characters. What more can I say, give Leviathan Wakes a try.

Puddles and Whiskers, WBD Back To The Present

Never fails to amuse me when I find after two or three edits something simple overlooked, such as hear instead of here. This section was more of that kind of edit and some cutting down and clearing up of details. I am still not geeked about this section, so you may see it again soon before I finish up the remaining chapters.

Previously.

Back to the Present…

“I wish these alarms would shut off,” Whiskers said louder than he would have liked. “They know we are here.”

Shrugging Puddles stepped around piles of garbage, constantly on the lookout for dangers or messes on the uneven floor. Alarms blaring, they moved cautiously through several tunnels and rooms, other than garbage, debris, and graffiti all empty. Standing in the middle of the third graffiti covered room; Whiskers looked at his skin watch two hours since they started this search. Puddles kicked over a table, scattering empty cans and vape inhalers. Her physical expression of frustration mirroring his internal frustration.

Walking over to Puddles he shouted, “They are not here. If they ever were. Looks like whomever was here left in a hurry.”

“I know. I want to know for sure,” gesturing at lopsided doorway, “let’s finish this up. Maybe we will get some answers.”

“If nothing else find the alarm controls.”

Puddles smirked before heading out the doorway. Whiskers nearly stumbled over Puddles peeking around a corner paw held up, something ahead. Stepping aside, Puddles gave Whiskers room to look around the corner. A white metal reinforced metal door, ajar bright light shining through the gap.

“No need to be quiet,” Puddles said.

Hefting her frying pan, she strode to the door and waited for Whiskers to catch up.

“Ready?”

“Yes,” he said drawing his katana stepping through the door into the bright room.

Following him in, frying pan and pistol ready, “Shit these lights are bright,” she exclaimed.

“The room is clear,” Whiskers announced.

They stood in white room, three white sealed suits hanging on pegs next to the door. Every surface in the room was white. Without warning the alarms shut off.

“Found the alarm controls,” Puddles announced from the other side of the room, “Everything else on this terminal has been wiped. Same with whatever they were working on at the tables.”

“Record what you find,” Whiskers ordered as he pulled out his phone, “hopefully someone can tell us what all of this was for.”

A half-hour recording holo-vid of the room and an adjacent room; the only visible clue small piles of white ash on tabletops and in cabinets. Whiskers found an exit. Following the exit tunnel to a hidden landing pad took another half-hour.

“This was unexpected,” Whiskers said.

“Feels like a set-up to me,” Puddles replied.

“Who and why?”

“Good questions. Let’s get out of here before someone comes back.”

“I need a shower,” Whiskers said looking at his gore-covered body.

Recycling Games

We have a lot of games and things collected over many years. Over time games and things get left behind. Forgotten on a shelf or in a box until one day you stumble upon them. Sometimes the forgotten get a new life, but more often than not the game is put back on the shelf or back in the box to be forgotten until you have to move at which point…the whole process starts over.

I do not like to keep things I am not using. A lifetime of moving drilled into me do not carry around more than you need or want to move, mostly the second one. Recently I have been looking at reducing our extra games and stuff. If we aren’t playing it or using it we should find something to do with them.

Our form of recycling. Thankfully there are a few places to unload games and stuff. My favorite part of the process is seeing what happens to stuff that nobody wants. Hold on a sec. Way back in the day, when I lived in apartments overrun with kids who had less than nothing to do to keep them from hanging outside my door and lighten my load I gave them games and such that I no longer had a need for. Best time was two kids playing Magic the Gathering with about 10 cards between them. The look when I gave them a box of commons, uncommons, and lands. They didn’t hang outside my door again.

So with that in mind, I enjoy seeing how much stuff is worth. I don’t care. If I cared I would take care of the price/sale myself. I’m just looking to lighten my load. Whatever I get is more than enough. At the end of our last trip we had a box of cards that they didn’t want and we didn’t want to cart home. We asked if they just take them. They, being the store people, said we have a box of stuff we give to new players. Perfect. That’s what I used to do.

Meanwhile at home, the Robotech RPG Tactics game has found a second and third life. The books went into starting a series of fires and as packing material. The food was good, so turning bad into good. The miniatures have languished in a box for a while now. The kids pulled out a few to practice painting on, a good use for them. They did not want to learn how to build using them, a good decision on their part.  Back in the box they went until someone else wanted to learn how to paint.

Instead of them purchasing expensive miniatures and practice on them why not use these? No reason why not. With one stroke I lighten my load by giving the miniatures away and they have something to practice on.

Slowly, but surely, we are lightening our load of games and stuff not used by us and turning them into something of value to us or giving them away to people who can put them to us.

Trials and Tribulations of Comic Books

As regular readers know, we enjoy going to comic cons. What you may assume is that we are avid readers and collectors of comic books. That would make sense, read and collect comic books, thus go to comic cons to find, share, and enjoy in our love of comic books. The reality is that we are not avid readers nor collectors.

A long time ago, up to the middle of high school I was an avid reader and collector of comic books. I sold them for something or the other I wanted at the time. No regrets, but that marked the end of my comic book reading and collecting.

Then children arrive. In an effort to move them from board books I think how much enjoyment I got from comic books. Plus, I had an itch to read something different. Perhaps I think, comic books might be another bridge for the kids and the adults, might spark some creativity in all of us, and show the kids that the don’t have to give up pictures and words for word only books.

Except the kids…well were kids. They had to see some of the Marvel movies first. Actually SEE Iron Man before they even wanted to open a comic book. Guess what happened then? If you guessed, Iron Man on a page did not look like or act like Iron Man on the movie screen you would be right.

Funny thing is that the stuff in a comic book store caught their attention; a poster, a statue or the cover of a comic book. Slowly over the years I try to introduce a comic book or two that I think one child or another will enjoy based…well based mostly on nothing because there is a problem with comic books and purchasing them, at least for me.

I can read story synopsizes and reviews until I am blue in the face. What I cannot not find out until I purchase something is how much other reading is necessary to make the comic or graphic novel make any sense at all. I know comic books have never been much on anything other than pumping out issue after issue, with variant covers, and crossover stories, and reboots, and blah blah blah…

That’s great for someone to dive in. For someone looking for a place to start for themselves or their children, a real crapshoot and not a crapshoot in favor of the parent. Yes, I am frustrated. If the children had remained immune to comic books I wouldn’t be. But they are interested and they have questions that I cannot answer because I, like them, have no clue about references and history no in the issue or novel they are reading.

That level of disconnect is not good. Try to imagine a book that billed itself as the “first” or “the whole story” and as you read you realized that there were hundreds of other books that were referenced directly and indirectly and you have no way of knowing what they mean. Frustrating right? Now imagine being a kid.

I am happy and surprised each time one of them comes out of the library with a comic book or graphic novel and finishes it, a single issue is confusing and graphic novels are never “the whole story or series” in one book. I hope that comic book creators figure out some way to address this, I know our kids and I would appreciate that. We might purchase more than we do.

Bloody Bear’s Reading Corner: Robopocalypse

I know as a bear I should be out doing bear things during the spring and summer because in a few months I will be hibernating or as I like to call it catching up on my online gaming time. What? You didn’t think bears actually slept the whole winter. We are really good at faking sleep when you come around.

Instead of doing bear things, I spent the day in the shade reading. I found a book that caught my attention enough to read in one day. The book, Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson is a page turner. The gist, in an similar, but different world, robots rise up to wage war on humanity.

Robopocalypse begins at the end of the war and through a series of interviews, recollections, and other devices tells the story of the robopocalypse from the beginning to the end. If you have read World War Z by Max Brooks or in my opinion the much better Journals of the Plague Years by Norman Spinrad then you will instantly recognize the style of story telling.

Each chapter is separate story that advances the time frame and tells an important moment in the war. As the story unfolds recurring characters meet with other characters and so on. Funny thing to me is, I read the entire book in one sitting and the story is the thing I remember, not the characters. The story was that interesting to me. However, the characters other than one who is introduced really late in the book were not interesting to me.

Part of the reason is because of the style of storytelling does not allow for a lot of character development. Sure there are moments where a scared character turns into a warrior and vice versa, but given the situation there is plenty of room for growth and development for the characters. Yet, none. Another reason is because the character types are expected, soldier, civilian, scientist, and so on.  None of the characters do anything to defy those expectations-the solider fights, the scientist figures out things, the hero is heroic. For me, it really was the story that kept me turning pages, I had no vested interest in the characters.

World War Z is zombies, much bigger, and tells a story of the world in peril better. There are a couple of characters I looked forward to learning their fate. The situation was interesting, the villains even though they were zombies were interesting. The robots in Robopocalypse at times read like a new car catalog-here is the shape and what it does and nothing more.

Journals of the Plague Years is a plague, a sexually transmitted plague. A short book especially when compared to the other two has characters I cared about. Has a unique situation, how does the country deal with a sexually transmitted disease and allow me to say the “solution” of taking the ill, drugging them up, arming them up and setting them loose on countries we are at war with was interesting.

If you are looking for a page turner you could do worse than Robopocalypse, such as Eye of Terror a book written so badly I flipped through the second half looking for good writing.

 

Puddles and Whiskers, WDB An Hour Later

Previously.

An Hour Later…

Standing next to their car after taking Chuck home, Whiskers asked for a second time, “Are you sure about this?”

“It’s a sneak and peek,” gesturing towards Tumbledown, “shouldn’t be a problem at all. You got your gear?”

Adjusting his katana and tightening his belt, Whiskers nodded affirmative.

Finding Black Myst territory took less time than they expected, gangers walking around made entry difficult. An hour of searching dead ends, alleyways, rubble-strewn corridors, and tunnels they found an unguarded battered door covered in Black Myst graffiti. The thump of music from behind the door shook dust loose onto both of them. Puddles drew her pistol and frying pan and stood before the door. Whiskers, one paw on his katana, used the other to yank the door open.

Puddles leapt into the room, pistol and frying pan ready. Twenty-four drug hazed eyes starred back at her, the dozen vapeheads clustered around the room and a battered purple did not react other than to take a hit from a vaporizer.

“Nobody move!” Puddles shouted leveling her gun at the group.

All twelve vapeheads bolted for the door, rushing past Puddles, knocking her aside in their eagerness to escape. Puddles, positive she saw someone matching the daughter’s description did her best to keep an eye on her. Unfortunately, two black and red clad gangers, previously hidden by the vapeheads, stood up from the couch kicking an unconscious vapehead out the way.

“We’re moving,” the larger ganger growled while reaching for her waist.

“So this is how you want to play it,” Puddles said aiming her pistol at the mooks.

The door slammed into Whiskers as the vapeheads bolted out of the room. He saw a blonde haired woman run past.

The larger mook pulled a vaporizer from her waist and took a hit, instead of the euphoric glazed expression Puddles expected, pure rage and a primal scream as she charged across the room popping razorclaws and elbowblades. The other mook activated a personal bubble shield and drew a handcannon.

                “shit.”

Ducking underneath Razorclaw’s drug-fueled rage swipes, Puddles cracked her frying pan against the back of the mook’s knee. Expecting her to fall down, Puddles swung for where her head should have been. Pain flared across Puddles outstretched arm from the back swing of Razorclaw’s elbowblade. Blocking a follow through swipe of razorclaws with her frying pan Puddles came close to losing her grip from the impact. Trying to get some space, Puddles hopped back from Razorclaw.

BOOM!

Handcannon fired. A huge hole appeared in the wall next to the door. Whiskers flinched when the hole appeared in the wall, the shot killing an escaping vapehead. Eager to get into the room, Whiskers lashed out with a claw swipe, knocking the last vapehead out of the way. Whiskers charged into the room drawing his katana, the etching blazing blue.

Blocking another swipe of razorclaws with the frying pan, Puddles arm felt sore and heavy. Razorclaw was aggressive enough to keep Puddles from shooting her. Roaring and frothing at the mouth, Razorclaw swung at Puddles head, following through with elbowblades. Puddles ducked and scooted back against the wall.

BOOM!

“How about a truce?” Puddles shouted, while ducking and dodging Razaorclaw.

Razorclaw turned as Whiskers rushed past. A momentary distraction, but enough. Leaping forward, Puddles slammed her frying pan against the side of Razorclaw’s head and jammed her Manstopper into Razorclaws’ side, pulling the trigger three times rapidly.

Katana held in a low position holo-etching leaving a blue trail ran past as blood from Razorclaw sprayed over Whiskers’ left side. Handcannon could not hear Whiskers through the bubble shield and focused on killing Puddles did not react when Whiskers stepped through the bubbleshield. Whiskers blade passed through Handcannon’s right leg. As he swung his katana up and then down the blue trail created an arc, the katana decapitated Handcannon before he finished falling to the ground. With his foot, Whiskers deactivated the bubbleshield.

“…and that’s what you get!” With the shield down Whiskers could hear Puddles yelling at Razorclaw’s body.

Wiping the blood from his katana on Handcannon’s body Whiskers took note; one-half of his body was red and sticky.

“You look like…”

“Don’t.”

“Fine, I won’t. Guess we aren’t going to get any information from these two,” Puddles said sarcastically.

“Should we continue on?”

“Can’t be too much left. Right?” she said with a shrug.

I Captured Bob The Ork

Our first game of Shadow War Armageddon felt…odd. With the new rules around the corner, using a combination of new and old rules felt at times clunky. But there was more than that.

Ten orks vs 5-man Inquisition team. Our boy’s orks, armed to the teeth with melee weapons. My inquisition team armed to the teeth with ranged weapons. He likes to close and chop and I like to set up lanes of fire.

He set up a massive jungle covered factory complex for us to fight in. I would share pics, but for some unexplainable reason (I asked he had no reason), he set up his team directly across from mine, taking a 6 x 6 board and reducing it to 3 x 6. I suggested otherwise. I asked. And he smiled like he knew something I didn’t.

He did not.

Summing up the action, he walked for three turns. I ran for one and shot for two turns.  He had 3 orks down before he decided to run and then bottled out or ran away to preserve his team.

Not very actiony. In fact, most of our play time was spent consulting charts. Lots of charts. Charts to hit because with all of the modifiers to hit introduced both of us had to roll over 7 on a single six-sided die. Yes, roll a 7 or more on a die that stops at 6. How do you do this? First roll a six, then roll again looking for 4 or more. Problem: When you roll a 6 that figure has to make an ammunition check, fail the check and the weapon is useless for the rest of the game. So even if you hit, you had a chance of running out of ammunition. See what I mean by clunky?

So now that you hit someone, consult a chart to see if you can wound them. Eventually the chart will get memorized. Next roll to see if they save the wound. If they don’t roll to see what kind of wound. In 40k a wound is a wound. In Shadow War a wound can be hide, lay there and bleed, or out.

I know with more games under our belt this will become easier, but I couldn’t help feel and still feel that this could be streamlined to keep the action and reduce the amount of time rolling dice.

Post game is interesting. In the vein of a campaign, each player goes through some end game steps. Get your reward of cash, a skill, or some other stuff. Those wounded figures find out what happened to them by rolling on another chart that can lead to rolling on one last chart.

With all of the above everyone had fun. That is most important. Our boy lost to me, but only because he didn’t charge the whole way across the board and he knew it. He also had Bob the Ork (his name) captured by my team so he has a reason to get back at me. Meanwhile onlookers were interested enough that an Imperial Guard team was created afterwards.