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Cyber-punk

While talking to a friend about books he mentioned he enjoys cyber-punk. Two authors he thought I should try were Neal Stephenson and William Gibson.

First, I had to figure out what cyberpunk was. Wikipedia’s definition: "cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a future setting, noted for its focus on "high tech and low life" aspects of society. It features advanced technology and science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order."

What was I going to get myself into? When "technology" comes into the picture, I usually get confused by the technical details of it. However, I quickly realized that even though both Stephenson and Gibson are describing the "high tech" both write in accessible language for most readers. Their stories relate to the human condition. While we might not live in a space colony or in virtual reality, we understand the subjects described. Both talk about a dystopian future, but sometimes with a glimmer of hope as the human characters fall in and out of love, deal with issues of image, money, power, politics, what it means to be human and so much more. (READ MORE)

Snow Crash Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780553380958
Availability: In Stock, Click Title for Location
Published: Del Rey Books - May 2nd, 2000

Taking the Critical Path: An Interview with Videogame Journalist Dan Amrich

One of the greatest things about visiting your local independent bookstore is that you never know what you’re going to find. Sometimes a hidden gem might jump off the shelf at you, sometimes you can be drawn in by a staff recommendation. One example of this phenomenon might be Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living by Dan Amrich. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of getting paid to play their favorite games?

Chris recently spoke with Dan about Critical Path, the writing process, and the long journey to book took from idea to publication.

Q: You've been a part of some major gaming publications in your career. In a few sentences, could you give a bit of your professional background?

Sure. I started as a freelance writer in 1993, tackling game reviews for a mix of computer, sports, entertainment, and lifestyle magazines, plus the then-novel realm of America Online. I got a good reputation by sending copies of my reviews back to the companies that had supplied me with games, so by the time I got a staff position at GamePro magazine in 1997, I had a good industry reputation. I stayed there and wrote under the pen name of Dan Elektro for seven years, then branched out to Official Xbox Magazine, GamesRadar, PC Gamer, and any other publication that would have me! All told I put in 15 years as a game reviewer and magazine editor before writing Critical Path.

Q: You live on the West Coast now, but you spent a bit of time here in Upstate NY, not far from our store here in Saratoga Springs. Can you talk a bit about your time on the East Coast?

I grew up in the Philadelphia area, which is a euphemism for Trenton, New Jersey -- but I went to college at Ithaca, married my wife outside Rochester, and I love every trip I've taken upstate.

Q: What was the inspiration to write Critical Path? Is it something you were always thinking about doing, or did you decide one day "I should really write this stuff down!"?

It was largely driven by the letters we got from magazine readers. I was in charge of the reader mail at GamePro, and every month, we'd get letters asking the same question -- "How do I get your job?" Usually it was from teenagers whose parents were telling them they had to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives, so they were curious about what career surrounded by something they loved -- videogames -- might look like. The more I got these letters, the more I wanted to answer them, but the more I realized that the answer was potentially very detailed. Some people who wrote in were really just looking for a way to get free games, but there were enough serious letters asking for real-world advice that I was convinced it was something I could definitively answer for the hopefuls who really didn't know where else to start.(READ MORE)

Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living Cover Image
By Dan Amrich, Cliff Bleszinski (Introduction by)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780985143725
Availability: In Stock, Click Title for Location
Published: Tripletorch - February 15th, 2012

Reading People

I enjoy “people watching” and “people reading.” Or at least their autobiographies and biographies.

Starting with an oldie but goodie, Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos. In the summer of 1971, Jack loads a yacht with a ton of hashish. What happens next is a raw and honest look at what transpires when Gantos is arrested and sent to prison. A powerful coming of age story of a man’s journey to survive and how his dream of becoming a writer came about. Now, as a companion, Gantos has The Trouble in Me. Where we see a younger Jack and more of what shaped him into becoming one of today’s most beloved children’s and young adult authors. (Both for ages 13 up.) (READ MORE)

Jack in a new light

Bruce Robinson’s new book, They All Love Jack, about history’s most celebrated serial killer, is long (800 pages), audaciously presented, suitably bloody, exhaustively researched and slightly exhausting. It says something about an author’s attitude towards the police department that investigated the crimes, the brutally class-structured British society in 1888, and modern day Ripperologists, mesmerized by the life and legend of Jack the Ripper, that one of the more sympathetic characters to emerge from the pages is the killer himself. (Mr. Robinson drops the name -- new to me, but not entirely unfamiliar -- about halfway through the book.) (READ MORE)

Staff Pick Logo
They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780062296375
Availability: In Stock, Click Title for Location
Published: Harper - October 13th, 2015

Reading, Reading and more Reading

This year for Teen Read Week (October 18 to 24, 2015) I am going to go a different route than I usually do for my blog. Instead of telling you books I've read, I am going to let you know about the books I want to read.

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
Why I want to read: I rarely read graphic novels. So why not try something outside of my usual reading zone? Plus Thrash is a first time novelist who is giving up a peek into the summer she came of age in a world (and even herself) that was not ready for some specific truths. (READ MORE)

Banned Book Week

What do Harry Potter, Captain Underpants. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Anne Frank and Catcher in the Rye all have in common? They have all been a Banned or Challenged Book.

Many are personal favorites: Feed by M.T. Anderson; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (on the Top 10 Banned/Challenged of 2014), Totally Joe by James Howe and And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson. Authors include Chris Lynch, Laurie Halse Anderson and Laura Ingles Wilder.

While we all pretty much know Go Ask Alice (another favorite) and To Kill a Mockingbird did you know Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle; Drama by Raina Telgemeier; The Amazing Bone by William Steig and a bookstore favorite, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell were too? Not to mention even Dr. Suess and Hop on Pop?

Many have also been made into popular movies such as Paper Towns by John Green. A number of required reading lists have had one or two titles challenged/banned: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Reasons for banning a book range from language, sexuality, sexual situations, race issues, violence, or even “I have not read it, but I have heard….” Every book is not for every reader (or perhaps, every reader is not for every book) but there is a colorful selection out there and hopes that you will someday find it and put it on your “Must Read” and not a “This Book has Been Banned/Challenged” list.

To celebrate this years Banned Books Week (September 26 to October 3, 2015) you can find these, other banned/challenged books and just old-fashion good reading on the shelves of the Northshire Bookstore (conveniently located in Manchester Center, VT or Saratoga Springs, NY) or here on our delightful website!

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Northshire Manchester Store

Northshire Manchester
4869 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT 05255
ph. 802.362.2200
ph. (toll free) 800.437.3700
Sun-Thu 10am-7pm Fri-Sat 10am-9pm
Directions to Manchester

Northshire Saratoga Store

Northshire Saratoga
424 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
ph. 518.682.4200
ph. (toll free) 855.339.5990
Sun-Thu 10am-7pm Fri-Sat 10am-9pm
Directions to Saratoga Springs