Anyway. Enough with the feeling sorry for myself ;)
My copy of Quake 4 arrived yesterday so I trashed the CD key of my install and put my new one in. We played online for a bit at the end of the evening, after J had played more of the single player game. Man, I suck. I don't recognise the weapons very well yet, and the pacing's slightly different from Q3 so my reactions are a little off. That and the random people on the random server we were playing on were lots better, so I spent quite a lot of time being cannon fodder, and dieing ;)
My new DVD drive and the fans arrived too - 22.5 hours after I ordered them. I'm pretty impressed by Overclockers, and I'm also glad I didn't pay for 1st class post, as it'd've been a waste ;) Haven't fitted the drive yet, but it's easy enough to do so I'll get round to it sometime soon. And anyway, it doesn't look like Civ4 will arrive before Nov 4.
I finished "Banewreakers" by Jacqueline Carey on Tuesday. Hmm. I think I'm glad I didn't buy this one, as I might've done as I liked the Kushiel books. Initially I thought the flowery prose style was just for the prologue - one of those making-of-the-world legends. But the whole thing was written like that, and I didn't really like any of the characters enough for it to suck me in. There was also a lot of hinting at great secrets without letting the reader know (while people told other people in the story, off stage), which is irritating rather than suspenseful. It feels very Tolkein-rip off, too, whilst the events are kinda different the feel of the events is the same - we have a man descending from the true line of kings who is to marry an elven, sorry Ellylon, princess, we have a plucky young lad who bears the ring, sorry water of life that will quench the marrow-fire, who has been seperated from his company of fellow travellers, who include a Gandalf analogue. The 'twist' she's put on it is interesting though, we're following this from the side of the 'bad guys' - the prophecy predicts success for the good guys, and it's being fulfilled, and we're watching the struggles of the Sauron analogue and his lieutenants to prevent it. I can't help but feel that this would've been a great book, written differently or written by someone else.
I followed that up by reading "The Book of Jhereg" by Steven Brust which is the first three Vlad Taltos books collected together. I was initially a bit wary, as the only other Brust I'd read was "To Reign in Hell" and I'd not been keen. However I've seen various people rate the Vlad Taltos books highly, so I figured when I saw this collection in the library I'd give them a go. I'm glad I did, too :) Vlad is a human assassin who is a member of the House of Jhereg in the Dragaeran Empire, and runs an area of town - very Mafia-esque, he controls the gambling houses, the brothels, the drug dealers, the fences and runs a protection racket for the rest of the businesses. The Dragaera aren't human, well writtenly not-human, and are the dominant race on this world. There are hints that this is another planet in our universe, with the Easterners (the humans) having been scooped up off earth by some other alien race who dumped them on the Dragaeran planet as part of some experiment or other. But that's in the dim and distant past, and irrelevant to the stories. These first two stories (Jhereg and Yendi) are mostly mysteries - with Vlad having to figure out what's going on and how he's going to kill his target, kind of detective stories, only the dead body is the result not the start. It's more complicated than that, but a summary doesn't do it justice. The third (Teckla) has a slightly different format - Vlad's wife is involved with a revolutionary group of Easterners and Teckla (a House of Dragaerans) and they disapprove of Vlad's career and his social climbing in (Dragaeran) society. Which produces a nice tension in the reader (or me, anyway) - sympathy for Vlad (as we're in his head) but agreement that being a Mafia boss should be disapproved of.
And finally - icon contests. iconartistic and icon_vibes both closed voting (winners here and here respectively). I lacked inspiration for the iconartistic one - I thought the pictures given worked well as they were, so I just entered this:
And the icon_vibes ones were a bit rushed, the theme was Shapes, and I entered:
Which did OK, the first one picked up quite a few votes, but not quite enough to place.