Most important event of the year

I have been pretty quiet during last month. Few reasons why, none of them business related. The summer is not the season where people in our industry are incredibly busy – that’s what winter is for … and end of March, government fiscal year end ;-). We had family visit – my two nephews were staying with us for few weeks. So instead of blogging, I was spending evenings with them and weekends as a tour guide around Ottawa’s attractions. I have even – finally, after 9 years in this country – overcome my dislike for really long car trips and visited Niagara Falls.

The waterfall and nature was amazing. The stuff built around it by tourist industry was not. Even the drive would not be so bad (only too long) – unfortunately somebody did place Toronto between Kingston and Niagara 😦 … with all the consequences like never ending traffic jams and way above average number of crazy drivers. The crazy means crazy even compared to Montreal.

After the nephews departure at the end of the last week, the most important event of the year 2007 happened: the Book 7 alias Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows arrived. We finally know where was Snape’s true loyalty and whether Harry made it or JKR ignored plea from Stephen King and other writers and killed him. On July 20th in the evening, I was there, in my home Chapters with my wife and daughter and hundreds of others, waiting for the midnight. It was amazing. Not the marketing hype, but the anticipation and the atmosphere (my compliments to the guy dressed as Lucius Malfoy, he was bang on).

There is something strangely satisfying to see people stand in line to buy a book. Other that HP series, I have never seen it happen on this continent. Regardless whether you like the story or not, what JKR achieved (in addition to make some pretty nice wad of cash for herself and others) is bringing people back to books and to reading. Not only kids. Reading books is essential – just watch Idiocracy to see where the TV will lead you 😉

So hour after midnight I was home with the Book 7 and started to read. I have finished shortly before midnight same day – with short break for sleep. What a weekend ! The book seven did certainly not disappoint. I will not go to details – not even now when Connie finished it and hopefully Shane did as well, some of my friends may still be reading. Gabo – wikipedia has full plot outlined, so unless you want to get a spoiler, do not go here

In some sense, the Harry Pottter saga was like a greatly written piece of software. JKR created illusionary world which was very rich and very consistent. Even with allowing magic, there were rules and things worked within the system. In software, you must pay attention to details (otherwise it will not work) and whenever you are writing larger system, your design should be solid otherwise your own creations may get in your way. In the books 1 to 7, I have not found any major contradictions or ugly hacks. Well thought-over plot, nicely designed story development, perfectly implemented – I mean written. Hats off. You can seldom see this gift in fantasy stories – somehow dealing with magic and dragons often lures the writers to be sloppy, cut corners, ignore details and bend the rules. There are few exceptions – such as Belgariad, Discworld or The Hexer Saga (to read this one you better can read Polish or Czech). From “scientific” sci-fi, one of the best “software-like artworks” is IMHO Dragon’s Egg and Starquake.

Thanks for all the magic, JKR.

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