Category Archives: Opinion

How to reread Wheel of Time before A MEMORY OF LIGHT.

This article is dedicated to Carey Peters, Bruce Lecus, and Ryan Jones.

So you’re a Wheel of Time fan. The final book, A MEMORY OF LIGHT, is finally finished. Praise the Light! Only it’s been years since you’ve read the Wheel of Time, which contains rich mythology, heavy foreshadowing, and loads and loads of characters. And most of the books are long. Will Continuity Lock-Out keep you from enjoying the final volume?

Don’t panic; there are a variety of ways to enjoy this epic tale before Tarmon Gai’don. And most of them don’t require rereading the entire series from pages 1 to 10,670, though that is certainly an option. Brandon Sanderson did so multiple times while writing the penultimate novels, so you’re in good company.

The idea of skipping books or chapters will strike some as odd; I assure you, it’s warranted. I’d rather you enjoy what you can than skip the whole series.


I was furious that Jordan wrote a prequel with the series unfinished, and (at the time) most releases failing to resolve much. I haven’t read NEW SPRING and don’t plan to. It is omitted from this guide.

Why your first reading was worthless:

The series is an order of magnitude better on subsequent readings. To modern readers, Jordan is dry, long-winded and fills his books with pointless chapters, especially later in the series. Only upon rereading (or reviewing supplemental material) does it become clear just how much Jordan planned in advance. Chapters which seemed at first irrelevant actually fill critical niches in the chronology.

For example, I used to hate any chapters with Whitecloak or Forsaken POV. They seemed to progress nothing. But both are rarer than I originally believed, they just seem longer when you want to read more about Mat. What you can’t tell in a single reading is how important a particular event becomes to the main characters  along arcs that take 8+ books to resolve.

Whatever you think of his prose, Jordan was a master planner; the foreshadowing and resolutions in Wheel of Time are second to none. On page 204 of the first book, Jordan tells you what Mat will do at the end of Book 13 to resolve a dangling thread from Book 5. Jordan’s work is photomosaic: Single chapters and books are downright ugly until you can see the larger picture. There’s too much to digest in one reading.

Your Prime Directive

I’m outline options to get you started, but the cardinal rule for rereading WOT is:

Don’t read what you don’t enjoy.

If you hated a book, chapter, or character, skip it. Even on your first read. I would rather you enjoyed the remainder. Remember Sturgeon’s Law:

90% of everything is crud.

…and the fan corellary:

The remaining 10% is worth dying for.

Read More →

Dear Apple, version 3…

…I’m now completely overwhelmed by your expertise and attention to detail. I will almost certainly advise all my friends to shop Apple products this holiday season.

Offered two jobs in two hours…what unemployment?

The morning of November 9th, I assisted visitors with conference room AV. They wore suits and the relaxed confidence of experienced businessmen. I wore blue jeans and my customer service smile. I made them laugh first and projected their content second. I don’t just connect cables and press the right buttons, I explain what I’m doing and why. I provide clear instructions, offer alternatives, pros and cons. I advertise how easy it is to reach me with questions.

“Want to come work in Iowa?” one asked. “We have an IT guy, but we kind of want to choke him.”

Obviously that’s at least half-kidding, but I made a good impression. They remember me as helpful and courteous. If I applied, I’d be ahead of other candidates.

The second offer was more serious. Read More →

What kind of “play” is more work than work?

I had to write a short sample for admission into It turned out so well, I thought I’d share it here.

My hobbies include time-travel, dragon-slaying, zombie target practice, and military command. As a child, such opportunities were afforded by books. But books, for all their greatness, have one major flaw: They are static, unchanging. I can add my own interpretation, but not my own ending. I can make the meaning personal, but I can’t determine the hero’s strategy.

This is why I turn to another art form, yet in its infancy:

They’re called ‘video games’. But I prefer to think of them as interactive books. Read More →

Ethics: Would you kill to save your daughter?

Every Monday, I explore a different ethical dilemma. Today, I ask how far you would go to save your child from harm.

Are morals universal or situational? Do you believe it is wrong to kill, always, without any possible justification?

Or do you feel that desperate times call for desperate measures, and some situations require you to do whatever it takes?

Just how far would you go to defend your wife or daughter from an assailant?

Read More →

Ethics: What’s so wrong with death again?

Every Monday, I explore a different ethical dilemma. Today, I ask why death is considered “bad” under certain faiths.

If you watch crime dramas, its a given that murder is about the most heinous crime one could commit. Similarly, killing of any measure is portrayed as atrocious in many worldviews, both religious and political.

But does the worldview match what the religion it claims to follow actually believes? Do people understand that their stated beliefs and their visceral reactions are at odds?

And most importantly: Is death really such a bad thing?

Read More →

Research: Creating believable short fiction

Every Saturday, I offer insight about my current research, or answer reader-submitted questions. Today, I demonstrate how varied my reseasrch is even for a short story like SECOND CHANCES.

I wrote SECOND CHANCES in one week, spending 3-4 hours a night on it. 30% of that  was spent on research, despite the fact the story is present-day and involves no special technology.

The easiest component was an injured worker; as a chronic pain patient myself, I know exactly what it’s like to feel unworthy, harassed, and in constant pain. Experience with temp agencies was also a given, and so a great deal of this story fell within “write what you know” territory. (Though this rule is widely debated among writers, it can help when invoked.)

So what didn’t I already know? Read More →