meme, from lodessa
Comment on this post and I will choose seven interests from your profile. You will then explain what they mean and why you are interested in them. Post this along with your answers in your own journal so that others can play along.
A novel by Richard Morgan featuring a body-hopping 'leet' spec ops ex-government ninja bribed out of prison and put in to a body not his own, to solve a mystery where the person who hired him had killed himself. No i'm not making this up! I was a little sceptical having read the blurb myself, but it got such good reviews and was highly recommended, so thought I would give it a try. Happily I found it was another one my my 'can't put down'TM books and I absolutely raced through it, loving each page. There are some very, very nasty bits, and some very not nice things happen in the book to both protagonist and the people he investigates, but these only serve to underline the world they inhabit. I went on to read the remaining two Takeshi Kovacs novels, Broken Angels and Woken Furies, but whilst good, neither can quite meet the exacting quality of both story and writing set by Altered Carbon. As such it remains in my top 5 books of all time.
I used to firmly believe in parallel universe thoery, where there are uncountable versions of the present branching off all the time, and every decision ever made split off another universe. I used to use this as a bizarre form of entertainment, mostly in the form of advising others about it, and if I admit it, teasing them too :) I would for instance say 'there's a universe out there where we're together, where right now i'm touching you..' and because of the parallel universe theory, this has to be accepted as a definite reality. This caused a little consternation and never failed to get an intense reaction from whoever I talked to about it, it was a great conversation piece :) I used to spend entire evenings talking about it to friends, where we would imagine us kings or slaves in alien or quasi-historical cultures, where we ran around living as highwaymen or victorian steam-punk adventurers, all the while safe in the knowledge that somewhere out there it was true! There is a certain comfort and enjoyment in this, though I haven't really done this in some time. Now I tend to add another thing in to the mix, namely the nature of reality, and the very powerful fact that people carry around with them their own realities in their heads, occasionally clashing with others, but always trying to impose theirs on other people. Remembering that everyone has their own reality and perception has been key to me understanding the world in a deeper way.
When I clubbed/pubbed more in my early 20s, I used to listen to Front Line Assembly, as they were one of the more progressive/popular/melodic(?) industrial bands. One of my friends suggested I listen to Conjure One, as it was the same lead singer. Completely different to the singer's industrial roots, Conjure One is so melodic and emotive in style, very evocative and a pleasure to listen to. You can find an example of one of their songs here, and coincidentally watch one of my cards tricks at the same time ;)
Earth and Beyond
This was the first MMORPG I ever experienced, and was ahead of the curve with regards to the market, with an innovative (for the time) style of play and an entire universe brimming with untold stories. It was active for only 2 years, as around the time it was released, it was picked up from Westwood by EA Games. EA didn't want two online games competing for custom, as they had the Sims Online as well, so they stopped supporting E&B, and let it sunset after only 2 years. In many ways, E&B had a lot of the gaming mechanisms that makes Wow so popular today, and still has a very loyal following among online gamers, who are still boycotting EA and whinging on the EA forums about the issue! There is even a group of individuals dedicated to reverse engineering the game and bringing it back in to public useability. I'm sure it's mostly nostalgia, but even having played Wow (ahead of the rest of the MMORPG crowd by far) I still pine for E&B.
This is the description of the training received by the protagonist of Altered Carbon. It boils down to the following (paraphrased from Wikipedia because the article describes it better than my original scribble):
Envoys are part intelligence operative and part elite soldier, trained to adapt quickly to new bodies and new environments. Envoy training is actually a form of psychospiritual conditioning that operates at subconscious levels. Envoys possess total recall and are able to discern subtle patterns within seemingly unrelated events. They possess a thorough understanding of body language and vocal tonality, such that they can often manipulate others with ease. They are able to control their physiological and psychological responses, such as fear and anger, at will. Another aspect that figures prominently in an Envoy's training is a systematic removal of every instinct that would give them any qualm about ending a life.
There is much in the above that is reminiscent of high level 'deep' martial arts training, where students learn until their actions are automatic, essentially they no longer need to think about how their bodies react. So Envoy Conditioning is a much more advanced form of this. It kind of segues with altered realities above, as envoy conditioning allows much more control over one's environment.
This is the protagonist of Transmetropolitan, one of the most famous works of Warren Ellis. He is a foul-mouthed train wreck of a man, but at his core he searches for and in some ways worships 'the truth', and sacrifices himself in pursuit of it. He's an example of giving all for your principles, not to mention a darn fine character with some excellent, if colourful language.
The cats of Seroster
A book by Robert Westall. In fact the first book I ever decided was 'my favourite book', at the age of 8 iirc. I re-read it every couple of years and still enjoy it now :) It follows a scoundrel called Cam throughout his visit to a city populated by a rare breed of golden cats. I particularly enjoy the writing fro the POV of the cats, and their society is in turns amusing and quite scary in its efficiency at getting what they want. Anyways, i've enjoyed this as both a child and an adult, and thoroughly recommend it as a fun read.