Posted tagged ‘More Information Than You Require’

Review: More Information Than You Require

May 20, 2009

It absolutely amazes me that I could be the exact target audience for a book.  And by that I mean a Jonathan Coulton/They Might Be Giants listening, Battlestar Galactica obsessed, Loren Coleman fan, with a decent grasp of US history, and ties to the outer edges of Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley.  OK, I guess that actually describes everyone who hangs out on Doombot, but you’ve gotta admit that’s fairly specific.

Anyway, John Hodgeman’s second book of fake knowledge is a great improvement over the still brilliant original.  The joke mostly remains the same, Hodgeman rattles off absurdities with an amazingly authoritative voice, and then finishes up with a list of 700 silly names (with molemen replacing the Hobos of the first book).  Many of these jokes have just enough ties to reality (i.e. Weekend At Burnies was inspired by United Artists filming a Pink Panther movie with the corpse of Peter Sellers) to make you momentarily question reality.  It’s a great shtick, and it’s amazing just how well Hodgman is able to pull it off throughout the book.

This is maybe the greatest bathroom book I’ve ever read, something you can pick up for 2 minutes and come back to later.  However, that’s also why it took me 6 months to finish, which is something I’m not terribly proud of.

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Year In Review: Books

December 15, 2008

A Decent year for the YA market, an awful one for everything else.  I could barely come up with 10 for this list, and two of the books I haven’t actually finished yet (although both of those I strongly feel will prove to deserve their slots by the time I’m done with them).

1) Nation

A labor of love from Terry Pratchett, the world’s greatest commentator on human behavior.

2) Little Brother

Cory Doctorow takes on the Department of Homeland Security and the culture of fear created by the Bush administration.  If you want to don’t want to get off your ass and take action after reading this YA gem than you weren’t paying attention.

3) The Kingdom On the Waves

The brilliant M.T. Anderson finishes his tale of Octavian Nothing, traitor to the nation.  The classically educated escaped slave heads south to join the British as the Revolutionary War breaks out around him.  One of those books I haven’t finished as of yet (give me another week), by the time I’m finished this could actually move up to the top spot.

4) More Information Than You Require

John Hodgman’s second book of false knowledge, this time supplimented with commentary of his newfound life as a minor television personality (and Battlestar Galactica fan).  It’s a real shame reality can’t measure up to the surreal world Hodgman creates.

5) Vicious Circle

Mike Carey’s second outing in his Felix Castor series is a huge improvement over the first book.  It still feels a bit like a story he didn’t have time to write when he was on Hellblazer, but the end result is a nice creepy supernatural mystery.

6) Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman tries his hand at the Jungle Book, pretty much exactly what you’d expect given the title.

7) The Baum Plan for Financial Independance

My favorite Indy publisher, Small Beer Press, collects many of the best short stories of John Kessel.  

8) The Dragons of Babel

It took forever, but Michael Swanwick has finally completed his sequel to the Iron Dragon’s Daughter, possibly the greatest dark fantasy ever written.  Sadly the sequel, much of which is a series of intertwined short stories, doesn’t nearly live up to its predecessor.

9) Pirate Sun

Karl Schroeder continues his amazing space opera.  The set pieces in the book are as great as always, but I’m starting to suspect that Schroeder doesn’t actually have an end in mind for the story.

10) Philosopher’s Apprentice

James Morrow, the biggest heretic in literature (and yes that’s a very good thing), takes on philosophy in a pseudo-tribute to the Island of Dr. Moreau.