Showing posts from August, 2010

Bat-Timeline Archeology

A month or so ago we went to a back issue sale at a local comic shop.  The deal was that you could fill a box with whichever issues you wanted out of these huge boxes for $25.  It was a pretty great deal.  We ended up with a lot of scattered issues of various titles, and reading through some of them, I had a thought.  I understand the feeling that it can be hard to get into comics, that the history is too long or too complicated to just jump in.  But the core of a major character hardly ever changes, and one can easily piece together the history with just a little enjoyable comic archeology. In the box o'comics, I have 7 issues of standard DC comics with Batman in the title.  I'm going to look at 4 today. In date order: July 93 Batman 496 (subtitle: Knightfall 9) July 93 Detective Comics featuring Batman 663 (subtitle: Knightfall 10) Dec 94 Batman 513 (subtitle: Prodigal 5) Aug 98 Batman 557 (subtitle: Aftershock) Here we go: Batman 496 (Knightfall 9) Plot:

The Best of C. L. Moore

The Best of C. L. Moore Compilation and introduction 1975, stories originally published 1933-1946 I grabbed this volume from the library when I was researching early fantasy a few months back, and have to return it soon, so I had to read it now.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I may not have come to this book with a wholly charitable attitude. Catherine Lucille Moore was one of the leading lights of early sci-fi and fantasy, and her prose is lovely.  However, I was never quite blown away by the stories.  I think I was expecting too much. According to the introduction, Moore was one of the first (or the first) to write sci-fi from a more emotional perspective. "Her early stories were notable for their emphasis on the senses and emotions, which was highly unusual at the time."  - Wikipedia   Also she is lauded for her very alien aliens and her use of romance. While I appreciate the stories for how groundbreaking they were, I must admit I was not that i

On hating a fictional character

I've been thinking recently about hating fictional people.  Generally, of course, characters fall into protagonists and antagonists.  (And bit players, but only seldom would the unnamed shop vendor arouse the kind of passion I'm talking about.) Generally, if I hate a protagonist, it is for not being what I want him/her to be.  Which might simply mean the author has written a book I do not wish to read.  I might hate a protagonist for being stupid, or annoying, or cloying, or insufficiently feminist, or too superficially feminist.  I think I hated the protagonists of The Lightstone just for being cliche, although I've repressed most of that idiotic book.  I sometimes become irritated at the main characters for the resolution of the plot, if they screw up or otherwise act like idiots.  Antagonists get more complicated.  I can hate an antagonist in the healthy way, the "how could you do such a horrible thing to this protagonist I like" kind of way, but a dee

Lord of the Isles

Lord of the Isles David Drake, 1997 A few weeks back, I bought a big pile of interesting-looking fantasy novels on the cheap at a local comic shop.  This is the one of those novels I stuck in my bag before leaving on vacation, so I read most of it on an airplane. I have a mixed track record with David Drake, and this book does nothing to solve it.  I've liked some various space marines stories, didn't enjoy the RCN volume I read as much.  This is the first fantasy I've read by him, and I found it strong in technique, but light on style and follow through. The world-building seems decent at first glance, but it didn't feel like there was enough to it. You have your generic euro-fantasy peasants and traders and politicians, and a handful of "foreign" cultures.  The most inventive part was the various jellyfish-looking monsters, shaped like giant alligators or made out of dead people.  I felt that I was supposed to think there was some greater histor

Under the Dome

Under the Dome Stephen King, 2009 Under the Dome was mostly your basic modern Stephen King.  Rag-tag protagonists, including the wandering hero and the smart kid, some bat-shit crazy, just-barely-realistic-enough-to-be-scary antagonists, sense of creeping doom, scenes of shocking brutality and visceral descriptions of unpleasant things: check check and doublecheck.  The sci-fi aspects seemed mostly peripheral to the plot, and the climax wasn't all that special, it didn't really stay with me.  The theme was well carried through, but not as interesting as it wishes it were.  The beginning was well done, but only echoes of the sheer awesome that is the beginning of The Strand .  Overall I found it a bit too long for its premise.  The length is only a problem for me because some Stephen King books I need to read all in one sitting if possible, because if I don't, as was the case here, I risk nightmares.  Like almost all of his stuff, it's eminently readable, fl

The God of the Hive

The God of the Hive Laurie R. King, 2010 I read the last Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes book, The Language of Bees , slightly over a year ago.  I remember that at the time I was a bit disappointed that it ended on a cliffhanger, so I would have to wait to see what happened next.  This is the sequel, as promised.  The two books connect; do not attempt to read this one without the other. I'm conflicted about this book, overall.  After finishing it, I didn't much like it.  I felt that the style had drifted too far from the early books, that the plot disappointed, and the writing was thin.  Then I took a breath, went back in and re-read several sections that I knew I had been reading very quickly (in order to get to the plot.) And just like that, I fell in love with the prose again.  There are some great lines, and some interesting themes explored.  The voice I remember and love is in there.  I still think the plot is severely lacking, and some of the writing tactics are