So, I'm horribly behind, obviously, on Cannonball 3, seeing as how I have not posted one single review yet. That's not exactly going to change now. But I am going to put in a little filler here to notify anyone who may care (I can't imagine who that would be) that I am indeed reading. It's also a reminder to my self of what I've read so far, in case I may ever get around to writing a review of any of them. So here's my reading list so far:

1. Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris
2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
3. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
4. Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess
5. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
6. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson (currently reading)

Hmm... I'm generally one who tends towards fiction. It wasn't until listing them just now that I realize a full half of my books so far (#1, 3 and 6) are nonfiction -- history. Interesting. I'm loving them so far.


#1 - Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer

It is often said that the best Science Fiction stories are not necessarily about fantastic adventures and crazy futuristic devices. They instead use the bizzare devices and locales to reflect back on ourselves, on humanity. They reflect our own society, or our own spirit. We recognize the shortcomings and glories of humanity by seeing it through an amazing lens. Author Philip K. Dick or the recent reincarnation of Battlestar Galactica are some examples of what great Science Fiction can be.

Flashforward is not great Science Fiction.

I had such high hopes coming into this book. The premise is simple, and pretty amazing: One day, out of the clear blue sky, everyone passes out. At once. Not everyone in a room, or in a city; everyone on the entire planet. At once. When they come to, there is massive amounts of destruction: cars crashed, planes crashed, people fallen off ladders, botched surgeries, swimmers drowned, people fallen down stairs. All told, more than 20 million people across the globe dead. But more amazing is when people begin to realize that the dreams they had while unconscious were not just dreams, they were visions of the future.

I was sold. There were so many great questions in my head. What would you do with your information of the future? Would it change you? Would you completely change the course of your life? Would you embrace what you saw, or reject it? Would you ride the stock market? Say someone was seen committing a crime in the future - would they be arrested in the here and now? Can the future be changed? What happens once you pass the point in time that you saw, and you no longer know the future?

Flashforward touches on some of these ideas, barely. Not enough. In fact, it boils down to a mystery story, and a lame one at that. The plot revolves around two men, Lloyd Simcoe and Theo Procopides, who work at CERN, the foremost physics research facility in the world. It is obvious from the first chapter that Lloyd and Theo's work is the cause of the blackout. Once the blackout occurs, the entire rest of the book follows the two men on two mostly different paths: Lloyd is convinced their experiment is the cause of everything, and tries to figure out just exactly what happened. Meanwhile, Theo - who did not have a vision - tries to solve the mystery of his eventual presumed death. Lloyd's story is bogged down with some of the most ridiculous and retarded philosophy that I've ever read, and Theo's journey is quite possibly the lamest, most predictable mystery I've ever read.

In the end, Flashforward never once spoke to the inner depths of humanity. It did not reveal anything, or provoke any deeper thought. It mostly just caused my eyes to roll. A lot.


Cannonball Read

I'm attempting to start anew here. This will be the home for my stab at Pajiba's Cannonball Read, and maybe other things (but not too likely).

What is the Cannonball Read? A bit over a year ago two of the members of the Pajiba community began a contest, a race of sorts: who could read more? The contest then was to read 100 books in 1 year. That's almost two books a week. There are only two general rules: 1) Books must be "of substance" to be counted - 150 is a decent minimum page count. No fair trying to claim Green Eggs and Ham as one of your books. 2) You must post a brief review of all books read, so that other participants know you actually read them, and also get great referrals on what they should read too. A small handful of people actually completed this feat. Well now there's a new race on, and while I'm too slow to be on the official contestant roster, I'm participating nonetheless. Officially, the race began on November 1, 2009, and ends on Halloween, 2010. This year, the coordinators went with the much more reasonable goal of 52 books in a year (that's 1 per week).

Back in the day, I worked a shitty office job. I rode the bus to and from work, and read the entire way, both ways, and on my lunch break. This amounted to roughly two hours of reading time a day, minimum. Back then, 52 books in a year was not only doable, but downright easy. I'm sure that back then I probably came closer to averaging 60-65 books a year.

But now it's different. I - thankfully - no longer work that job. I love my current job, but it affords no bus-time or easy lunch-time for reading. As such I've finished maybe 4 books this year. And therein lies my primary reason for joining the Cannonball Read: to force myself to start reading again.

Let's hope this works. Happy reading, one and all.