December 2009 has a roundup of their choices for the top 20 Sci-Fi fantasy novels of the decade. Its always fun with lists like this to see which ones you have actually read and/or enjoyed …

The ones I have read:

  • Pattern Recognition
  • Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom
  • Perdido Street Station
  • The Harry Potter Series

The ones I have not yet read but want to:

  • World War Z
  • Glasshouse
  • Look to Windward

Some of the others are not even on my radar at all.  One has to chose wisely when time is limited. Max Brook’s World War Z I have on a Christmas list so it should be in my little paws soon.

Sean over at Colony Drop has an excellent write up of what Akiba and the otaku culture are really like.  While I don’t agree with his cynicism or his view about porn/sex driving the otaku subculture. But I think his view of Akiba as a hyped up shopping district in Chiyoda are dead on:

The myth of Akihabara permeates Western fandom as deeply as any other misconception revered by Western anime fandom, but rarely, if ever, is it questioned or explained. Akihabara is not the epicenter of Japan’s cool otaku subculture, nor does that subculture even exist. Akihabara is an over-merchandised shopping complex in the middle of Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, populated by Japan’s manchildren, gawking tourists and the foreign residents who erroneously portray it as the hub of modern Japanese pop-culture.

I found Akiba to be a fun place when I finally did get to go, walking through places I had only see in pictures was a fulfilling experience, shopping in the “mecca” felt like shopping in any other place just with more moe. Ultimately I want to go back and browse the electronic stores more, look for a laptop or notebook. Akiba seems to be downplaying its former embrace of the otaku subculture although the maid cafes are not going anywhere.

Io9 has a very good rant about the Flash Forward TV series that aired on ABC this fall. I liked the series but it started to suffer from Lost-itis with too many storylines and more being added all the time. Maybe when it comes back it will be better, but since its broadcast TV… My biggest beef with the series is in the way we seem to be getting no closer at all to a resolution of just what is the cause of the flash forward event.

from io9.c0m: Even without strong characters, a good plot can still suck you in. But FlashForward doesn’t have a good plot, or even a particularly linear one. Instead, it’s all over the place, mixing in terrorist threats with Blackwater-esque corporate conspiracy theories, star-crossed lovers and medical dramas, murder mysteries and soap operatics about marriages and alcoholic fathers relating to their long-lost daughters… everything except the science fiction behind the FlashForward, which has become the McGuffin that gets lip service every now and again. In fact, there’s so much everything that the show feels not just unfocused, but incoherent. What’s FlashForward actually about? Ten episodes in, I’m not sure that I really know anymore. And that’s a pretty big problem.

Lost became lost when the plots never reached any sort of conclusion at all, all we had was more and more plots held together by good characters. Lets hope Flash Forward doesn’t go the same way.

The Fullmetal Alchemist:  Brotherhood anime series is available for viewing on Hulu. Since I missed the FMA series the first time and being a little stingy (not wanting to spring for the box set) this series seemed to be the perfect chance to get into the FMA series without breaking the bank. The FMA is set in a fantasy world based on post industrial revolution Germany where magic and science are blended into “alchemy”:

Edward and Alphonse Elric are two alchemist brothers searching for the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, a powerful object which would allow them to recover their bodies (which were lost in an attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy). Born in the village of Resembool from the country of Amestris (アメストリス Amesutorisu?), the two brothers live there with their parents. Their father, Hohenheim, leaves home for unknown reasons and years later, their mother, Trisha Elric, dies of a terminal illness leaving the Elric brothers alone. After their mother’s death, Edward becomes determined to bring her back through the use of alchemy, an advanced science in which objects can be created from raw materials. They research Human Transmutation, a forbidden art in which one attempts to create or modify a human being. However, this attempt fails, ultimately resulting in the loss of Edward’s left leg and Alphonse’s entire body. In a desperate effort to save his brother, Edward sacrifices his right arm to affix Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor. Some days later, an alchemist named Roy Mustang visits the Elric brothers, and he tells Edward to become a member of the State Military of the country to find a way to recover their bodies. After that, Edward’s left leg and right arm are replaced with automail, a type of advanced prosthetic limb, created for him by his close family friends Winry Rockbell and her grandmother Pinako.