I haven’t written anything in a while (specifically referring to this blog) and while there is a post I want to work on, I’m feeling a little unmotivated to put a lot of effort into crafting it (or even another post on another subject). So instead, here is a link to a short story I read over the holidays that I enjoyed.
It’s by Wil Wheaton. He wrote it on a bad mental health day, and I thought it was pretty good!
It’s been a while since I finished reading something, and this month I managed to finish two things. One was a full length book, the other was a piece of short fiction. Here are my reviews.
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
I received this book as a gift at Christmas this past year, and is a story I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. What I didn’t know about it: it was originally written in Swedish, translated to English (and presumably many other languages since). It’s a simple story, and starts exactly as the title suggests: A 100-year-old man climbs out of his window and disappeared, launching a man-hunt for him across Sweden.
It earns many comparisons to Forest Gump, mainly because the story of his past is told in parallel with the present-day story. In his past, he interacts with many different historical figures and winds up inadvertently shaping historic events simply by dumb luck.
I’m normally not a fan of descriptions that compare the book to another work of fiction, simply because it saddles a lot of preconceptions onto the new work. I tried not to think about the Forest Gump comparisons but after finishing the novel, felt that it was a pretty apt description.
The story is pretty funny overall, and the pacing was generally quite good. At some points I thought that this wasn’t the case; some of the telling of his life in the past felt slow and left me wanting to get back to what the main character was up to in the present day.
I give it an A-, definitely worth a read.
Dead Trees Give No Shelter
This is a shorter piece of fiction, about 40 pages. Wil Wheaton (yes, THAT Wil Wheaton) wrote it with an intended release for Halloween, as a break between a longer novel that he’s working on.
It’s a supernatural / horror story, which coincidentally also moves between the past and present day (and a quick jaunt into the year 2031). I didn’t intend to pick two stories to review that had a similar story mechanic, it’s something I just realized.
A quick but very enjoyable read. Wil Wheaton created a moody atmosphere and did a really good job of “hiding the monster” until it needed to come out of hiding. The story has a certain symmetry to it as well. At one point when I was reading it, I was listening to the E.T. soundtrack, which perfectly fit the tone that I think Wheaton was aiming for. There were some instances where the dialog didn’t work for me, but it wasn’t enough to make me give up reading in disgust. Solid read – pick it up after watching Stranger Things (or watch Stranger Things after reading this).
I really liked it. Around the time that I finished reading this I also binged through the rest of Stranger Things, which was great. Similar atmospheres, which I think is exactly what Wheaton was going for.
Since you probably won’t need help finding The 100 Year Old Man… on book shelves, I’ll just give you a link to Dead Trees Give No Shelter. You can pick it up in multiple forms – I personally bought the eBook. You can also listen to the Audiobook, which was narrated by Wil himself.
What’s next? I’m going to finally read Timothy Zahn’s Survivor’s Quest + Outbound Flight; I’ve also got a World War II book I picked up from a bargain table that looks interesting. I definitely have no shortage of things to read on my bookshelf.
Here’s your podcast update for June! There’s actually a lot going on for what is usually considered an “off-season” for entertainment. If you want, you can see my subscription list at https://podstand.co/profile/lwgrs
I don’t recall dropping any subscriptions. Good news!
This list is somewhat long! That’s really cool.
The Pitch is back! Three new episodes came out, and while I was disappointed with the unannounced break I’m pretty happy there are new shows to evaluate. Season 3 started June 14th and is now part of Gimlet.
Grant Lawrence is back on CBC Radio 3! Which is now “Canada Sounds”, which I need to listen more for a proper evaluation. I guess they got tired of doing the usual show of just playing cool music with the occasional feature. Now it sounds like something tied even more strongly into Canada. Episodes are short, it seems!
Radio Free Burrito – Wil Wheaton is trying to keep to a weekly schedule. So far so good. I’ve always liked this show, and it’s pretty much an audio version of his blog. A show I usually listen to first as soon as it comes out.
Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder – season 2 seems to be looking at the Daniel Morgan murder from a slightly different perspective, assuming that the listener is familiar with the story. Leans heavily on the host’s new book.
Why this episode? Because for a long time I’ve been meaning to re-watch E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. I keep seeing it on Netflix and I don’t think I’ve watched it in 20+ years. This episode is a deep dive on what’s going on with the movie E.T. (as opposed to covering the apparently terrible Alien Covenant), and was really fun to listen to. They touched on so many aspects that I’d never noticed before so I had to watch it.
Pair this listening with a viewing of E.T. You won’t regret it!
Just one – Back to the Futurama. For the longest time, Futurama Pedia was the only Futurama podcast around but that’s changed! Back to the Futurama is going through all of the Futurama episodes in order, from what I can tell. I haven’t listened through everything, and still need to finish listening to their Space Pilot 3000 episode. But it’s pretty good!
Alright, so I re-read Wil Wheaton’s short story Hunter tonight; I’m posting this from mobile, so you’ll have to find the link when I wrote about it in my last post.
Anyway…It’s not as good as I apparently made it out to be in that post. If I were to grade it now, I’d give it a 3. The world building is done well, but the characterization is only okay. I can see my own writing reflected here.
Also, the twist at the end? Not really that big of a twist ending.
I still recommend it if you have some money to blow – it’s pretty cheap after all. And it’s a short read. Took me maybe ten to fifteen minutes.