- Super Mario
- Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
- Year: 2011
- Pages: 304
We were a Sega household growing up; I’m not sure what drove my parents to wrap up a Genesis one Christmas instead of a Nintendo, but my childhood was nonetheless more about Sonic the Hedgehog than Mario the “plumber”. That being said, we had no shortage of interaction with Nintendo products either before or after, generally playing them at friends’ houses. Or, as was the case for a number of years, occasionally renting an original NES from the video store for the weekend.
It was impossible to avoid Nintendo’s cultural impact in the late 80s and most of the 90s, even as other manufacturers began to make inroads into the console market; and far from being simply a video game company, Nintendo cultivated a brand that included magazines, mail order merchandise, and a two-hour commercial called The Wizard. And while Nintendo had various hits, and its name alone could sell swag, its name was intrinsically linked with a little Italian named Mario Mario.
- The Wise Man's Fear
- Publisher: DAW
- Year: 2011
- Pages: 993
By the time I read Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, it had been out for four years, garnered a critical mass of critical acclaim, and been followed up by a sequel both half again as late as expected and half again as long as its predecessor. The Wise Man’s Fear picks up almost exactly where the first book in the series left off. By way of summary: Kvothe, an extraordinarily intelligent and precocious gypsy child is orphaned by the brutal attack of a præternatural group called the Chandrian. His eventual enrollment in a university of engineering and magic lead him on a number of adventures both profitable (in many ways) and detrimental on his way to investigating and avenging the death of his parents. When we last left him, he had inadvertently called the True Name of the wind, which is the purest and most real form of magic.
- The Name of the Wind
- Publisher: DAW
- Year: 2007
- Pages: 662
The Name of the Wind came up, a little unexpectedly, on a list of the top 100 or so science fiction and fantasy books of all time. These are about as common as oxygen nowadays, but this particular list was from NPR, so I stopped to read. Among the obvious Tolkien, Heinlein, Herbert, Orwell, and other thoroughly entrenched authors were some surprises. I first learned of Gene Wolf’s The Book of the New Sun, which was new to me but an old book with its sci-fi bona fides. Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind was more puzzling, being the debut novel of an unknown writer, published a mere four years ago. My curiosity was piqued.
- Chocolate Wars
- Publisher: HarperCollins
- Year: 2010
- Pages: 352
If you’re curious as to the strange coincidence that someone named Cadbury is writing a book about the history of British chocolatiers, cease your cogitating: Deborah Cadbury is, in fact, a direct relation of the family which ran the largest chocolate business of the isles, though she is admittedly several steps laterally distant from the immediate chocolate-making family. If, now that you know this, you’re troubled as to the possibility that Deborah Cadbury may not, therefore, be the most reliable narrator, you may once again cool your firing neurons, because I can say with little hesitation that your fears are justified.
- Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Year: 2011
- Pages: 432
Social Engineering was my hobby horse as an undergraduate IT major; I say this as though I’m an old veteran of the IT industry, but I’m not—I’m a fresh-faced, startup-mentality programmer. One of the reasons I always focused on social engineering in my various papers and projects, however, is I was exposed early to the idea of Kevin Mitnick. This isn’t to say I was particularly familiar with his exploits, or even well-versed in the technology of his area, but the notion that you could con your way into systems without necessarily programming or “hacking” was easy enough to understand.