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Essjayar.Com –> Books, Movies, Music, Games, Technology and Websites –  Reviews, Tips and Links – an eclectic blog from Stuart Reid.

Reading History:

I’ve always enjoyed reading. I’m a sucker for rich, complex Fantasy and Science Fiction epics as well as the odd thriller, and I’m lazy enough to enjoy trilogies and series – so I don’t have to think what to read next. Like many readers, I tend to follow certain authors as that’s the easy option. However, finding a new author and his body of work is always exciting.

When I was younger I frequented my local libray and voraciously read all the Myths and Legends compilations I could find. That meant the Roman, Greek, Norse and Welsh legends in particular. After that I moved onto such classic childrens authors such as Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Dick King Smith etc – and once I had my adults library pass it was Horror all the way!

Of course Stephen King was at the time one of the most popular authors in the world, a true superstar in the field, and I read everything of his I could find. I also enjoyed works by James Herbert and Graham Masterton, as well as many others – basically, whatever the library held.

Fantasy was next, having already read Lord Of The Rings (after a copy of The Hobbit came with the computer game) I wanted more. David Eddings and Raymond E Feist were… memorable.

Along the way I’ve enjoyed what could be called staple Genre fodder – but then, most read to be entertained, and the mass market Thrillers, Fantasies, Horrors and SciFis certainly do this. Crime is another genre I’ve enjoyed, with Alex Cross (James Patterson) and Rebus (Ian Rankin) being my favourites.

Science Fiction itself – mainly the works of Heinlien, Clarke, Asimov and Dick – always have a place in my heart, but I’m afraid I haven’t read much “new” SciFI at all, except for David Brins first “Uplift” novel (I will finish them one day) and a little title called “The Reality Dysfunction”…

Computing

My first computer was right at the start of the Home Computing boom here in the UK, a Sinclair ZX Spectrum (48K). At the time it was amazing, and putting 48 kilobytes into context these days is astonishing. After “upgrading” to a 128K +2 (basically, a built in tape-deck and more RAM) I moved to the Commodore Amiga.

The Amiga was a full custom-chipped multimedia powerhouse in the days when multimedia itself was a new term. Greatly out powering the PC’s of the day, it had a strong following around the world and especially in the UK. Disks, an operating system, a mouse – all were pretty new to me. After the A500+ I owned a A1200 with a 20MB Hard Drive, then moved onto my first PC as the Amiga began to die.

My PC #1? A Cyrix (intel clone) P133+ with limited (by todays standards) memory and Hard Drive space. Graphics were on-board. It ran Windows 95, and eventually I even bought a 3DFX Voodoo Banshee (one of the first ever dedicated gaming 3d card) and got blown away by Tomb Raider.

I’ve also been online for a pretty long time, over 10 years now – back to the days of 33K modems. In those days bandwidth limited everything, so online video, music, large file downloads, and even technologies such as Flash were pretty much outside the average home users reach.

Websites were sparser, search engines meant AltaVista or Yahoo!, the Usenet was pretty popular, as was IRQ as a chat network. PC’s were generally 486 or clones (cyrix, anyone?) based. Hard Drive space was thought to be almost infinite – at a few GB at most or still being measured in MB. In fact, my Amiga 1200 had a 20MB HD and that was amazing (to me at least).

But today? The Internet has a new front-end, the World Wide Web. And this is populated by a vast array of media rich and informative websites. Whether you want to work or play, challenge yourself or seek something comforting, it’s out there on the web.

Movies

I’m an avid movie watcher. Although, as you may tell, my favourite genres are SciFi , Fantasy and Horror I also like Thrillers, Anime, “International” (i.e., movies that fall outisde the Hollywood formula) and Indie pics.

My favourite actors? Many. Way too many to mention, but I will list those I remember as posts sometime. Same for favourite directors.

I’m the kind of guy who watches a film then leaps onto the internet to trawl for more information on the movie I just watched. IMDB is of course the king here, but Rotten Tomatoes, and ComingSoon.Net are also faves of mine.

I also love TV series. Not really TV per se – too much crap on that little box! – but the likes of Prison Break, Lost, Heroes, CSI etc all get the thumbs up. At times episodes of these easily surpass the writing and acting in even big-budget movies.

Games

Since I’m a PC fan, my favourite games have been mostly RPG’s, Adventures, and 1st Person 3D shooters.

Currently I’m liking Half Life and Half Life:2 (and it’s episodes). Bioshock, and Crysis. I was also into World of Warcraft in a big way, but I’ve kind of lost interest in the endless grind there 🙂

In the past it was the old 8 bit classics, the excellent Amiga games, and adventures such as Loom, Monkey Island, etc. I also liked emulation – MAME rocks !

So, expect to see all those and more in my little Blog. Feel free to leave comments, contact me with suggestions or further questions, and even submit your own reviews and tips for publication.

-Stuart Reid , August 2008.