Archive for the ‘Suggested Reading’ Category

My Turn

March 26, 2014 - 12:40 pm 4 Comments

So this is a week late and five bucks short (Inflation! #thanksobama!), but I’ve got a bit of dust to blow off the keys too. Originally I’d planned to do this on a Monday since all 3 people who still check this digital graveyard likely do so at the start of the week and move on, but I figured I’d take the bounce off LabRat posting to see if I could get a few more eyes to:

The Grey Man Vignettes

Everybody’s favorite spooky curmudgeon OldNFO done wrote hisself a book. He was even desperate gullible misguided enough to throw early copies at me to help with the editing process, so I’m getting a bit of vicarious ego off watching it do this well myself.

It’s a good little read. It’s not Clancy technoporn, it’s not Dickens being paid by the word, it’s just a solid character-run series of short, loosely connected glimpses into the lives of some good ol’ boys (the good kind) doing their thing. Worth snagging for a solid couple hours entertainment.

Welcome, Monster Hunters!

July 24, 2013 - 1:04 pm 5 Comments

For the fans of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International series, the MHI RPG & Employee Handbook is available to all. I highly recommend it.

Those of you who already have a copy and may not be familiar with why this increasingly dust-covered little website is listed in the thanks, I believe the tale you’re looking for is here. Thanks for dropping by! As soon as we get this chupacabra infestation taken care of we might even manage to post something interesting again.

More Awesome Places To Spend Your Money

October 13, 2012 - 3:37 am 2 Comments

So, there’s this comic series called The Goon. It’s written and drawn by Eric Powell, it’s on the Dark Horse imprint, and it is one of our favoritest funnybooks in the world. I’m a fan; Stingray is a bigger fan, big enough to be slightly disturbing. The best short description of The Goon that I can come up with is that it’s kind of like if Gasoline Alley had been created and produced by Rob Zombie, and then handed over to someone with more talent. (That would be Mr. Powell.) It’s awesome, it’s pretty, and the story is surprisingly deep for something that involves a turf war between zombies and thugs and features dudes with inexplicable fish heads and occasional hostile land squids. Short version is, it’s good. You should probably read the comic.

What I’m actually pimping, however, is more to the folks who are either already aware of the sweet comic goodness that is Goon or for those who will experience an instant, Damascus-style conversion upon becoming aware of Goon. Namely, the Kickstarter for the Goon movie. (Or, more specifically, producing a feature length story reel for the movie to give it real pitch power to Hollywood.) Normally this would not excite me, because normally comic book movies suck unless they’re produced by Marvel Studios. However, this comic book movie already has David freakin Fincher at the helm, with Powell himself writing the script, and Clancy Brown to voice act the title character. So that’s a fair punch more promising than the average Y’ALL LESS MAKE A MOVIE OUTTA THISAYERE COMIC proposal.

There’s various prizes and stuff, but really the only reason to give money to this is if, like us, you slaver to see the movie made. So if you slaver and you have spare cash lying around that would otherwise go to drugs or something, go ahead and kick. Meantime, might think about checking out the comics. They’re pretty rad.

Flying Dinosaurs!

October 9, 2012 - 4:08 pm 3 Comments

Ok, slightly bait-and-switchy, but it got your attention didn’t it? Our friend Stephen Bodio seems to have gone and gotten a new book out.

I have not read this tome yet myself, but I do intend a copy to go in the ever-expanding pile of matter I intend to read, despite said pile rapidly approaching a volume sufficient to collapse in on itself and begin a self-sustaining fusion reaction. The man knows of whence he speaks, and while raptors are not a niche most, if not all, of the readership here will never have more than passing contact with, how can you argue against the inherent coolness of working with an animal that is essentially a vector calculus engine attached to a propulsion unit and a bag of knives? They can be funny, too.

If you’re so inclined, you may find An Eternity of Eagles through a handy Amazon referral that will benefit two people a once with no additional cost to you. I’m looking forward to when ever I can mow through enough of the to-read backlog to get on this one.

I Would Jump Off The Cliff, Too

August 25, 2011 - 3:37 pm Comments Off on I Would Jump Off The Cliff, Too

All the cool kids are doing it, but more to the point, it’s really simple content. Kang is starting to find her feet at mothering, but we really could use another day or so of caught sleep. In general.

The apparently NPR-generated sci-fi and fantasy reading list. Bold is stuff I’ve read, italic is stuff I’ve started and didn’t finish, and commentary is in parentheses. I realize this will make the list much more difficult to copy and I don’t care, this counts as substantial content if I add commentary, right?

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien (I realize this makes a substantial chunk of the geek population want to strip me of my Vulcan ears, but I found Tolkien unutterably boring. I realize a lot of later fantasy builds on, rips off, or riffs on Tolkien, but at least a lot of them do it with a far better sense of humor.)

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (This was on my fifth grade summer reading list. Why, I have no idea, but I’m glad it was. I actually like the Dirk Gently series much more, even though no one else seems to have read those than me.)

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (I think smart kids are required to read this between the ages of ten and seventeen. I tried to read the first sequel. I didn’t get far before I got the sensation of having disappeared up Card’s ass.)

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert (The spice must flow, but I’ll let it flow right on past me.)

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin (Friends don’t let friends read giant epic cycles if the author has no idea where he’s going or appears to be losing interest.)

6. 1984, by George Orwell (I’m not a huge fan of depressing dystopian fiction no matter how classic. Stingray is, however, and his copy is well-worn.)

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (Assigned reading, seventh grade. I like basically every single other thing Bradbury has written more. See also, dystopias aren’t my cup of tea.)

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov (I knew someone who loved this series so much I could just about bet money I therefore wouldn’t. You’d understand if you’d met the guy.)

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (Not me, but again Stingray’s copy is well-worn.)

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (Several times. I <3 Gneil.)

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (The movie was better.)

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan (See my comment on Martin.)

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell (Assigned reading, seventh grade again. Come to think of it my English teacher that year had a huge hardon for both dystopias and bleak commentaries on the human condition. He also assigned The Oxbow Incident.)

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson (Not me, but Stingray again. When the first reason someone can come up with for why I’d want to read something is that it defined a genre, not because it’s fun, I’m usually satisfied with skipping it on the assumption the genre therefore covers it. Stingray wishes me to note that HE thought it was fun, but he thinks nearly all things cyberpunk are fun.)

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore (Book and movie both. They were both good in their own way.)

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov (No, but I did read The Positronic Man, for which Robin Williams should be shot for daring to adapt.)

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein (This was not a good introduction to Heinlein. I haven’t really been able to overcome my irritation with him accumulated over the course of the book. I read the author’s original cut, I understand a lot of the more objectionable stuff was cut out in later editions, which may explain why I remember it so much less fondly.)

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss (What, and who?)

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (Pass.)

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (Very, very different from most of the movie adaptations. If you look at it with your ladybusiness glasses on it’s also a really interesting dark fiction pretty clearly inspired at least in part by her rough experiences with birth.)

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick (No, though I did read Man In the High Castle.)

22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (People take this one way too goddamn seriously. As a light read it’s not half bad.)

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King (Only everything subsequent to the first book, which contrary to the opinion of a lot of King fans, sucks. Sorry.)

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke (I slept through large portions of the movie, twice. does that count?)

25. The Stand, by Stephen King (The unabridged edition. I kind of wanted a medal at the end. The whole thing was somehow less than the sum of its parts.)

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson (I was bored and annoyed in equal measure at the end of the first two or three chapters. Stingray loved it.)

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury (Bits and pieces.)

28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut (Vonnegut peaked with this one in my opinion. Pity it was so early on.)

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman (Oh Neil. Along with Alan Moore he reset the bar for comics writing.)

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (More assigned reading. Far more interesting as a book than a movie.)

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein (Still haven’t forgiven him for Stranger.)

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams (Among the more hair-raising children’s fiction out there. The Plague Dogs is even worse. Adams missed a calling as a horror writer.)

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey (My first exposure to McCaffrey is how BATSHIT she is with her fans. Pass.)

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller (Never heard of it.)

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells (I went through a Wells phase in high school and read pretty much all of ’em. This was by far the weirdest.)

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne (I think I read a comic version. I was unimpressed.)

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny (Oh yeah… Zelazny. He exists. I can say pretty much the same about the next several books/authors on the list.)

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven (I actually do mean to, one of these days.)

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien (Tolkien gets, if that were possible, even stuffier!)

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman (Meh. The protagonist made me want to punch him pretty much every scene he was in. Neil didn’t really master novel-length fiction with no pictures until American Gods if you ask me.)

49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke (Yet more assigned reading, this time on a summer reading list. Someone in my school’s English staff was a huge sci fi fan, in retrospect. I liked it a lot, and went through a later Clarke phase because of it. Tales From The White Hart is my favorite. No, I can’t explain why I skipped 2001.)

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan (By the time you finish Sagan trying to do fiction, you will have counted each of the billions and billions of seconds of lost time.)

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman (See Neverwhere. The movie was better.)

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson (See Snow Crash. Stingray loves it, I still can’t stand Stephenson.)

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks (I was- am- quite heartily sick of dystopias and zombies alike, but when Stingray finally badgered me into this one I LOVED IT LOVED IT. One of the best things I’ve read in the last several years.)

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle (Another one I mean to read, someday.)

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett (If Pratchett wrote it, I’ve read it. I like this one in particular because I’ve heard atheists describe it to me as an anti-religion polemic and believers describe it to me as a powerful defense of faith.)

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Some. I like it well enough, but not enough to buckle down and devour the rest.)

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett (See Small Gods. Although why on earth Going Postal is in here but Hogfather or Reaper Man or Night Watch isn’t is a complete mystery to me.)

61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind (Described to me succintly as Conan the Libertarian. So far pass.)

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (Mean to, haven’t yet.)

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (No, but I’ve read a bunch of other Matheson.)

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard (I’m uncomfortable with quite that level of Walter Mitty.)

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb

70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (Haven’t, mean to)

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne (Good grief did Verne like journeys.)

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore (I’m allergic to elves.)

74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi (A strong start and Scalzi’s only gotten better, IMO.)

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke (No, but I can’t see why on earth I didn’t in the aforementioned Clarke phase.)

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey (No, I mean to.)

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury (Bradbury at his most gloriously purple. I liked it anyway.)

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire (I think I need to try this one again. I think I was just young enough the point sailed over my head.)

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson

82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde (Not that it inspired me to read more of the series. Neat concept, dull execution.)

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson (Even Stingray gave up in defeat after the first ten percent inspired no “and then what happened”, but DID require homework.)

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher (Ehhhh pass. I don’t want to read Butcher taking himself seriously, thanks.)

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock (I was nowhere NEAR emo enough a teenager for Moorcock.)

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury (Bradbury is strongest at short fiction, if you ask me.)

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson (The first book is sitting on my bookshelf, never been gotten around to yet.)

96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

BAG-Day Reminder

April 5, 2011 - 4:11 pm Comments Off on BAG-Day Reminder

With tax day looming just around the corner, many of the folks with refunds coming are considering buying a gun in the annual loose display of “Hey, Gov’t! Be afraid of us!” that annually causes the government to notice absolutely nothing what so ever known as Buy A Gun Day.

Since it’s been a while since I beat on this drum, it’s time to sound it again, and remind people that under no circumstances should you purchase a gun that has a stock made by H-S Precision.

I know not everybody has memorized our entire archives (and if you don’t, shame on you! I was much funnier in the past!), so let me give you the recap.

Originally, H-S Precision put out their annual catalog for the 2008 year. This particular catalog included an endorsement of the products from one Lon Horiuchi. For those not familiar, Lon Horiuchi is the federal sniper who killed Vickie Weaver at Ruby Ridge, as she was holding her baby, against the rules of engagement in place, and was rescued from prosecution by federal fiat. He continued on in his career to help turn the Waco stand-off into the disaster it was. If you haven’t read it already, please check out Lawdog’s summary of Horiuchi’s actions. The man, simply put, is evil and should not be tolerated on this side of the dirt.

Anyway. When a large portion of the shooting community noticed this, and issued a vigorous cry of WTF, H-S Precision responded by removing the endorsement. No apology was issued. They issued a statement which was labeled as an apology (see previous link), but essentially said “Fine, if you don’t like it we just won’t run endorsements.” This did not go over terribly well, but since a new season of American Idol was starting, the matter more or less went away.

A couple months later, someone was dumb enough to give me media credentials for the 2009 NRA Convention. This made me obnoxiously full of myself, so I felt it appropriate to commit an act of journalism. I sought out the H-S Precision display at the convention, and tried to get some clarification on just what in the blue hades happened that they picked such a poorly thought out mascot, especially since he was the only endorsement in that particular catalog.

The H-S Precision representative, the man in charge of putting out a positive image of the company, told me red in the face with anger, that Vickie Weaver deserved to be shot simply because she was there.

I honestly wish I was making that up.

Vickie Weaver committed no crime at all. Whether her husband had done anything illegal is still a murky issue at best, and is a debate for another time, but the simple fact is that the official position of H-S Precision, as related to me by their staff, is that an innocent woman deserved to die holding her infant because of guilt by association for a malum-prohibitum crime. I know our audience is not comprised of 100% gun nuts, so if you’re not familiar with Ruby Ridge, or your association is “Oh yeah. Some crazy cult-like Christians got shot,” please read the last link. I can’t say I’d have wanted Randy Weaver at my picnic, but the federal handling of the whole thing was nothing short of an abomination.

Regardless, H-S Precision’s position is utterly disgusting.

So this is your Buy A Gun day reminder from the Atomic Nerds. Don’t buy anything that has any association with H-S Precision. Don’t buy anything new with their furniture, and personally, I don’t care if they already got the money for the stock out of someone else and you’re buying it used. Any gun with H-S Precision furniture is morally tainted. There are better companies out there.

And if you’re going to the NRA Convention this year, we have a shirt I would encourage you to wear when asking them yourself why a murderer was a good celebrity endorsement.


December 27, 2010 - 5:05 pm Comments Off on Tideover

We are around and about, though the bit where Stingray will be off work for a week yet and we are preparing to hit the road to see my family in Arizona means the general sensation about the place is that the holidays have not ended yet, and we are in a combination of preparation and goof-off mode. I wanted to get back to blogging by today, but my muse sent me a postcard from St. Tropez.

So here’s a link to my Thing of Interest for today, an old speech by Terry Pratchett dating from 1985 on the subject of the consensus fantasy world, magic, and gender. Which is actually a very poor summation and if you want to find out what it’s actually about, I suggest you read it.

It’s of extra special interest to Discworld fans because the speech was given between the publications of Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic; as most fans of the series admit, it started out as not much better than decent satire of bad fantasy and only became worth the fanaticism later on down the line when it turned from simple parody to deeply interesting fiction in and of themselves. Still based on social satire, yes, but in a much deeper and more philosophical manner than just an incompetent wizard who goes about the fantasy landscape hanging lampshades on things. What makes this speech particularly interesting isn’t just what he said then, but the themes and ideas he went on to elaborate on in much greater and richer detail decades down the line…

The Queue

October 20, 2010 - 5:00 pm Comments Off on The Queue

Wednesday afternoon punt, because there’s some chance SOMEone might find it interesting and it’s meme-shaped.

As do most adults that have more things they want to read than time they have to do it in (not to mention a terrible problem that gets more severe the better they make their recommendation software), I have a backlog of books in progress and on the shelves. Here is the current queue.

Reading now:

On my desk: Fergus Henderson, The Whole Beast: Nose To Tail Eating

On the coffee table: Brian Boyd, On The Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction

On the nightstand: H.W. Crocker III, Don’t Tread On Me: A 400-year History of America At War (As a side note, this reads exactly as you’d expect a history by someone named “H.W. Crocker III” who has decided to dispense with hiding his biases would.)

Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things (Reread. Gneil writes my kind of bedtime stories.)

On shelves and coffee table, in rough order of intent to read:

Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Vendetta (Obligatory, and Stingray devoured it so thoroughly I’m debating skipping this one up and doing the same before I finish either of my current doorstoppers.)

Dale Guthrie, The Nature of Paleolithic Art

Peter Watts, Blindsight

Sean B. Carroll, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo

Stephen King, Under The Dome (Little dubious about this one. My willingness to stick with King past a thousand pages has gone down along with my supply of free time. On the other hand it will probably still go faster than On The Origin of Stories just because of relative density.)

William Stoltzenburg, Where The Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators

Kim Stanely Robinson, Red Mars

Donald Wilson and Richard Stevenson, Learning To Smell: Olfactory Perception from Neurobiology to Behavior

Chandler Burr, The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession

Summer Reruns Redux: Just A Thought

August 2, 2010 - 4:04 pm Comments Off on Summer Reruns Redux: Just A Thought

DisturbedLoyal readers may remember a while back we lost a good chunk of content thanks to some DNS issues and a migration to a new server. A recent post at Kevin’s had me looking for one of those lost posts, and was finally motivation enough to actually go through the raw SQL version of the missing material. Various technical issues prevent an easy splice back into where the article originally appeared, so since we’ve got an early raid tonight and not much time for actual thinky-thinky content, y’all get a rerun of my original thoughts about Yuri Bezmenov, the state of modern education, and the current political landscape. Enjoy, and cross your fingers I can dig out some of the other popular-but-missing posts from this monster too now that I’ve finally dug into it.

Some time back, Kevin Baker at The Smallest Minority put up a post involving a video clip of a fairly noteworthy Soviet defector, Yuri Bezmenov. Kevin’s point was one regarding our education system, but my Reynold’s wrap beanie is telling me there’s a little more going on here. Wander over and watch the clip and read the post & excerpts.

Earlier tonight, we recorded the first of the New and Improved Vicious Circle (link coming soon). Why new and improved? Probably because Alan is actually going to get around to posting this one (we hope), but I digress. Originally one of the topics for the evening was going to be “why the fuck are the Democrats determined to try socialism when it never worked anywhere else?” It being the Vicious Circle, we of course didn’t stay anywhere near what was originally planned for the most part, and since I actually thought I felt a neuron fire on this topic earlier, I figured I’d trot it out here instead. (Edit: Holy crap! He did it!)

Now let’s just take a minute and think about our elected officials, be they democrat, rino, or pretty much anyone other than Ron Paul, who has his own set of problems anyway. Some senators can’t manage to drive across a bridge without killing someone. Others think their staff sent them an internet. Bluntly put, congressmen and senators are too busy diddling page boys, evading their taxes, drowning their workers, going out with mistresses, explaining that barrel shrouds are shoulder things that go up, and generally demonstrating as frequently as possible that between all 535 of them you could find more intelligence and general competence (in ANY field other than getting elected) in a lightly stunned ground squirrel. Seriously, look at ’em. They’re really fuckin’ dumb if you hadn’t noticed! And when they flaunt that idiocy, it’s not in an isolated incident! They’ve admitted frequently, especially since President Leave Britney My Presidency Alone took office, that they don’t even read the bills they’re voting into law.

Again, consider their frequent demonstrations of idiocy. I cannot believe this is a new and recent development. Now think about who is writing and reading these bills, if not our dully (sic) elected officials. Why, that would be their staff! People not elected, but hired based on, essentially, their ability to bullshit and look good, and for some specialists, manage the press when the Senator decides to test the float-mode on his car and comes up light one passenger. There’s obviously some degree of oversimplification here, but how much is anybody’s guess. These hired bullshit specialists have been crafting our laws for quite a damn few years, based simply off their ability to get hired.

Kinda like schools have to hire teachers.


April 23, 2010 - 4:17 pm Comments Off on Wow.

Courtesy of FarmDad via Gunblogger Conspiracy, I ran into one of the coolest websites I’ve seen in quite a long while. It isn’t the usual “bacon, guns, beer, boobs” model that normally piques my cool-o-meter, so if you’re looking for the low-bar I usually set around here, keep moving.

Instead, the site is a travelogue of a Russian biker-chick’s travels through Chernobyl. For fun. No, really. The English is a little broken, but perfectly readable, but unfortunately the site exists as one of those “This is here for me ’cause I think it’s cool” things, as disclaimed on the first page, and is prone to not loading quite as reliably as the for-profit parts of the web. The descriptions of the environment, the places still standing, and the few brave or stupid inhabitants still in the area are compelling. And the exquisitely refreshing part where the author realizes that a) not all radiation is created equal, and b) what kinds and levels of doses will do what to you instead of just ZOMG TEH READIATIONS! doesn’t hurt either. The pictures, interesting in and of themselves simply because of the magnitude of what took place, capture an amazing open-air time capsule to 1986, when Communism was not hyperbole thrown around every other sentence, and Thought Police really did exist, willing and capable to murder someone for having the wrong opinions with the full blessing of the state.

There’s some light explanation on what went down in the days surrounding the disaster, and though nothing one couldn’t pick up from a history book, the boots-on-the-ground point of view brings a lot to the party. Naturally, going sight-seeing through one of the worst nuclear disasters in history isn’t the safest of hobbies, but the author knows her stuff, knows how to stay safe, and to my mind has a very healthy attitude to the whole endeavor. I may not ever find myself in Russia, but the notion of taking a trip like that, to a place so utterly and completely empty, and yet so potentially dangerous, is fascinating.

The full link, in the event that the site is inaccessible for a while, is . If it’s down, save that link for later, it’s well worth catching when it’s up.