06 August 2008

The best Sci-Fi and Fantasy books EVER (in my humble opinion) Part I - Fantasy

Y'know something? I'm happy to see all these new bookshops opening around the country, offering quite a wealth of books in Arabic and English (and sometimes French). It's even refreshing to see kids (and adults) taking an interest in some proper Sci-fi/fantasy books, too. I've had a huge love affair with sci-fi and fantasy over the years, and despite the fact that much of what I've read can be classified as trash, there are a few books out there that truly offer unique take on the genres.

Fantasy is somewhat easier to write about: even though I've only ever read one of his books, I think David Gemmel is a very good writer. Terry Goodkind's earlier works (before 2001), though slightly preachy, were compelling reads with good plots (after 2001, he became an ultra right-wing nutter who probably advocates nuking the Middle East, or so his books seem to suggest. The main character, Richard, who is called the Seeker of Truth and is a good guy with a conscience, somehow now has no problem killing evildoers without remorse, since it's only right to do so.....yeah...right...killing people without caring is no big deal. Idiot).

Also, I've started reading Neil Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which, I can say based on an informed reading of the first five pages, looks decent enough to get into.

Although he doesn't quite fall under the same category, the historical fiction of Bernard Cornwell (All the Sharpe books) is superb: the man knows what he's on about, and his more recent series, the name of which I can't remember, save for the title of one of the books, Harlequin, is an entertaining read.

Of course, let us never forget the true master of fantasy, the man who pretty much set the standard for modern sword-and-sorcery: J.R.R. Tolkien himself, whose books, more than fifty years later, are still incredibly popular. If you've never read the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, pick them up now; they're well worth it. The Hobbit is a quick and easy read, and quite entertaining. Lord of the Rings is a bit complicated and spends far too much time describing trees and too little time describing action, but once you get through it, you'll understand why it's the ultimate work of fantasy ever written, and that everything that came after copied Tolkien.

If you are a glutton for punishment, and want to read stories that make the events of LotR look like a pre-school picture book, find a copy of the Silmarillion and read it. Three times. It'll take you that long to sort out everyone's name and understand the relationships between the various characters, but the book is well worth it. Essentially, it is the history of Arda, the world where LotR takes place from creation and until the end of LotR. The stuff that happens in the First Age of the world is so goddamn hardcore, it makes the battle of the Pelennor Fields in Return of the King look like a water balloon fight. Seriously, the Silmarillion should be Tolkien's most popular work.

Well, that's enough for now: gotta head off to a meeting. See you next time for part two: The best Sci-fi books EVER!

07 July 2008

The Shoddy State of Advertising in the Arab World

Is it just me, or is advertising in the Arab world really shite? It seems we are completely incapable of producing anything of any quality, because the majority of our TV and Radio advertising panders to the worst possible set of retarded ideas and even more retarded products.

Exhibit A: Skin Bleaching Creams.

It was bad enough when the stupidly-branded "fair and lovely" started polluting our screens with the idea that if you're not white, you're ugly, now we have Olay, a major cosmetics company, promoting their own bleach-you-pretty products. Now, seriously, do we really want to go around promoting the idea that if you're not a certain skin colour, you are automatically ugly and doomed to a life of failure and being a social outcast?

Exhibit B: Other Stupid Cosmetic Products

Meet Jane Doe: An aspiring journalist with dandruff. Due to the fact that she is afflicted by this terrible modern equivalent to leprosy, syphilis and the bubonic plague rolled into one, she can't find a job. However, the miracle of X-Company's revolutionary Product X can cure her of her stupidity, ineptitude and the unfairness of a capitalist system, allowing her to land a dream job as a TV Reporter.

Well, I fucking want some of that product! I mean, can you imagine the possibilities? Getting into clubs for free? Getting free drinks? Having people pay for your shopping? Getting the Nobel Prize for Physics! The sky's the limit! And all you have to do is get this magical product!

Exhibit C: Dubbing Advertisements

It's bad enough that you have stupid people acting in your ads, but why oh why would you want to upgrade the level of stupidity by having mentally-deficient people dub the damn thing in the SAME language just to "improve" the voices? I mean seriously, people...don't you realise that these idiots you hire are extremely annoying and only make the stupid ad worse? Haven't you realised yet that dubbing never works out completely right, and it ends up sounding like garbage?

Give us a break, and think of something better, dammit! Some originality would be nice!