08.15.2016 -- 2013 Class Gift

I haven't posted anything to this front page in over five years. Quick, scroll down and see if you can guess why. Calvin, the developing human x-rayed in my wife's belly is now four or so. He's a hoot. He has a younger sibling on the way. No, this post isn't the announcement.

I've decided to start posting more class gifts, especially as, I think, I'm done giving them. Sorry, future students. This one is from the 2012/2013 school year. It started as a bic drawing on a piece of 8.5x11 photocopier paper. From there, I did four different versions to keep things exciting. Please feel free to follow the links and enjoy.

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07.04.2011 - On Eric Nylund

I just finished reading Eric Nylund’s The Resisters.

I have a very complicated relationship with Eric Nylund. My mother bought me a copy of A Game of Universe when I was a teenager. I was skeptical: I had never heard of the guy, the cover art was less-than-amazing, and it was a gift from my mother. Kiss of death. When I eventually got around to starting it, I was blown away. For weeks, I raved about the best “first seventeen pages in a novel, ever.” I eventually started to push it on my friends. My beat up copy must have been read sixteen or seventeen times. It has, maybe, another two or three reads left in it before it starts to shed pages. I don’t lend it out any more.

Then I discovered Dry Water. At first, I didn’t like it as much. But it rereads better than Universe, and I no longer know which one I like better. They are very different, but both have great pacing, complicated relationships, and evocative fantasy elements. By 1998, Eric Nylund had a solid place on my list of favorite authors. I eventually found Pawn’s Dream, which I liked, and Signal to Noise, which I hated. Everyone is allowed a dud, though, right? But this was when our relationship got complicated.

In 2001, Nylund released Halo: The Fall of Reach. A novelization of a video game. At the time, I believe I used language like “selling out,” and “have lost all respect.” I was young. And, in my defense, “all novelizations of video games stink” is a solid rule of thumb that will rarely lead you wrong. I eventually found a used copy of the book (so far had my impression of the man fallen), and I didn’t hate it. It was intensely derivative, reading like a mash-up of Ender’s Game and Starship Troopers. Then came another video game novelizations and a sequel to Signal. This could have been the end of our relationship.

The fact is, I see kids reading Halo: The Fall of Reach all the time. And they like it! He’s a good writer, and his treatment of the source material, though rushed (seven weeks, they say), is more then generous. As a teacher, my understanding of his sell-out novel has matured. Kids and young adults are treated to some terrible writing, and these readers are still developing the sophistication required to distinguish between something that is good and something that is almost good. Much of the literature aimed at young people looks to exploit this, which I think is unforgivable. And, as he says on his website, there is “a shortage of good science fiction for kids.” Halo is almost good. But it compares favorably to what a lot of my kids are reading.

His Mortal Coils series is aimed at a slightly older crowd, and anyhow, Christian mythology doesn’t excite me. This leads me to The Resisters. It is an effective book. The characters are distinct and believable, the actions sequences are exciting (though sometimes not as clean as I’d like), and giant robot bug suits are cool. I like that the language and situations offer nothing to shock parents. I like that it is a little on the short side as this won’t frighten off casual readers. On the whole, I’m happy to put it into my classroom library. And I’ll keep a copy of Halo in my desk if a child’s interest is sparked.

But they can’t touch my copy of A Game of Universe.

06.21.2011 - 2011 Class Gift

It is with great pleasure that I post this, my 2010/2011 class gift. I'm updating the link below over the course of the next month, annotating the image with stories, sketches, and explanations. So, either come back often, or wait a month. You will decide for yourself.

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07.06.2010 - 2010 Class Gift

It is with great pleasure that I post this, the 2009/2010 class gift. Whew! What a ton of work. Follow the link below to read more about it.

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I think I'm supposed to put some copyright information here at the bottom:
Copyright Daniel Miller, 2011