Showing posts from January, 2012

Possible changes, and a Poll!

I've been thinking about making some changes here at the Blue Fairy's Bookshelf. I'm pondering changing things up, maybe widening the focus of the blog slightly. I don't make any promises or any threats, and I might not end up changing anything anytime soon. But before I decide what I want to do, I wanted to reach out to you, my readers, to see what you think. If you could take three minutes to complete the following short poll, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you!   <p><p><p>Loading...</p></p></p>

A Case of Conscience

A Case of Conscience James Blish, 1958 Premise: In 2050, four men are on a commission to the planet Lithia. They are there to evaluate the planet and its sentient natives, and render a recommendation about future contact with Earth. One man wants to turn the unique geology of Lithia into a nuclear arms factory, another is convinced the peaceful Lithian society could teach humanity a thing or two, one is unsure where he stands, and the fourth becomes convinced that since the Lithians have an orderly society without religion, that they must be demonic in origin. Yeah. If you have been hanging around here for a while, you already know I'm not going to like this guy. In the second half, the plot gets even weirder. Some books I read on the wrong day. Some books I read in the wrong year. Some books I read too fast because they have to go back to the library. Some books fall victim to all three, so you can feel free to take this review with a grain of salt. I was never going

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 1

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 1 Script: Gene Luen Yang, Art: Gurihiru, 2012 New Release! I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for purposes of review. (I read that one, and then went out the day it arrived in stores, bought a hard copy and read it again.) Premise: The war is over, but bringing peace to the Four Nations isn't as simple as winning a battle. This is the continuing story of Avatar: The Last Airbender. I LOVE THIS. I loved this to pieces. This made me laugh and gasp and cry aloud. I love these characters, and this is completely in tone with the series: funny and sweet and heartbreaking. It even starts by devoting three pages to the voiceover that opened every episode of the series, so it dropped me immediately into the right mindset for this world. I can hear the voice actors in my head. If you haven't seen Avatar: The Last Airbender , GO DO THAT. And then when you get to the end and want more, you're in luck! The Pro

Comics Briefly: American Vampire #23, Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part One

Only two buys today, and they are both quite good and quite different. Both new in stores on 1/25/12 American Vampire #23 (Death Race Part Two) Writer: Scott Snyder, Artist: Rafael Albuquerque, Colors: Dave McCaig A good follow up to last issue, this issue continues to intercut the 'present' car chase with more pieces of backstory and more recent history. The flow works well; everything slots together quite nicely, while keeping the tension high. No surprise on the last-page reveal, despite the events of Ghost War. Travis is a great new character, and I'm excited to get the rest of his story soon. Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part One This is 75 pages long, pretty much a graphic novel. And it is AMAZING. It's getting its own post tomorrow.

The Big Time

The Big Time Fritz Leiber, 1957 Premise: What starts out as a usual day for The Place - rest stop for soldiers in the Change War - becomes much more dangerous as personalities, ideologies and plots clash between the soliders and the entertainers. First of all, the prose here is fantastic. The narration is by Greta, once a "party girl" from Chicago, now separated from her time-line to be comfort and companion to those who fight in the Change War, which rages across all time and space. The dialogue is wonderful. The characters come from all different points in history, and speak polyglots of language from their own time mixed with slang picked up from others. I'm less sold on the ending: the closing speeches are a bit silly to me, but the plot itself is very nice. The introduction of the edition I read compared it to a stage drama, and I would too: a collection of people come to a place under great stress, and begin to love and fight and argue, shifting allian

Daughter of the Centaurs (Centuriad, #1)

Daughter of the Centaurs (Centuriad, #1) (K.K. Ross/Kate Klimo), 2012 New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.  (NB: It looks like the author's name on the cover changed between when the review copies were released and the final book release?) Premise: Malora wants to grow up to train horses like her father before her, but when disaster strikes their tiny settlement, she and the horses must learn to survive alone in the wild. That is, until she meets travellers from a city of centaurs, who are rather surprised that any humans still exist. Should she run the other way, or try to find a place in their society? I have extremely mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I like the main character. She's got a lot of heart and fire, and I found her moral and emotional struggles convincing. I liked quite a few of the supporting characters, and the two societies we see over the course of the story are both interesting.

Comics Briefly: Batman #5, The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #2, Wonder Woman #5

Favorite Issue This Week: The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #2 All Issues were new in stores on 1/18/12 NB: It has been noted, in my conversations with friends about comic books, that like all of us, I am affected by my introduction to comic books and comic book characters, and that affects the kind of stories and characters I expect and enjoy. So be advised, when I get cranky about the new DCU, it's largely because what I like best in DC-based stories are interactions between heroes that have some history and/or emotional weight, legacy characters, strong friendships and galactic-level Batman. And I'm not getting a lot of that. That doesn't mean the books are bad, but it means that I don't love them. Batman #5 Writer: Scott Snyder, Pencils: Greg Capullo, Inks: Jonathan Glapion, Colors: FCO There are some moments with Gordon and the extended Batclan that open and close this issue, and they are very sweet and well done (minus my feelings about one panel o

Double Star

Double Star Robert A. Heinlein, 1956 Premise: Actor Lorenzo Smythe is tapped by spacer Dak Broadbent for a job: impersonation, no details. Lorenzo has no idea that he's about to be swept up in the  intrigue of interstellar politics. Because if he had an idea about that, he'd have run in the opposite direction. This book was so much fun. The prose style is delightful, the storyline interesting, the politics even compelling! I really enjoyed it, and this is the first of the Hugo winners (chronologically) that I can say that about without reservation. All of the characters are complicated and interesting, and despite plenty of tension, there's very little action, since most of the plot hangs on character growth. It's a great example of one of my favorite kinds of sci-fi: human characters, with human problems, complicated by future scale. The Martians here are intriging, if never described too closely. I mostly get the sense of how alien they are, but they&

Comics Briefly: Batgirl #5, Batwoman #5, Demon Knights #5, Wolverine and the X-Men #4

Favorite Issue This Week: Wolverine and the X-Men #4 (Demon Knights is a close second, though) All Issues new in stores on 1/11/12 Batgirl #5 Writer: Gail Simone, Pencillers: Adrian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes, Inker: Vicente Cifuentes, Colors: Ulises Arreola I liked this issue more than I've liked the early ones, but I'm still not big on this title. The art has been decent overall, but I really disliked the first splash page in this issue from a posing standpoint. About the plot: did we need a new super-badass mystery chick? It just feels a lot like the lackluster parts of last year's Birds of Prey. Babs' internal voice is funny and occasionally sweet, but boy does she need some consistent supporting cast so this book can stop being My So-Called Self-Pitying Superheroic Monologue. Batwoman #5 Writers: J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman, Artist: J.H. Williams III, Colors: Dave Stewart So I guess that was the end of the arc? I don't get this

They'd Rather Be Right

They'd Rather Be Right Mark Clifton and Frank Riley, 1954 Premise: A telepathic college student helps two professors to create a machine, called Bossy, that can answer hard questions, do complicated tasks, oh, and make people young and beautiful indefinitely. Of course, it only works on you if you can let go of your deeply held prejudices about how the world should be. Obviously, everyone wants the machine. I don't think this was nearly so bad a book as it has a reputation for. It's not good, but “Worst Book to win a Hugo”? Maybe. I'll tell you when I'm through the list. It was easy to read, tripped along, and was so cheerfully straightforward about its own weird brand of philosophically flavored cockeyed optimism that I had to enjoy the ride. There's a lot of didactic description about how people get stuck in thought patterns; that people refuse to acknowledge things that don't fit their preconceived notion of the world. Which is true, but not e

Fireborn: Embers of Atlantis

Fireborn: Embers of Atlantis Tracy Hickman, 2011 Recent Release! Copy for review provided by Netgalley. Premise: Based on the Fireborn role-playing game. Ethan Gallows, ace cameraman, liked his life and his job, until his footage of unbelievable events was 'proved false' and no one believed the truth. He's been making the best of it in a world gone mad until his dreams start leaking into his waking life. Plus people start telling him not only is he a reincarnated dragon, but he has to rescue his brother, who is trying to kill them all. This is a decent book, fun and fairly interesting, with well drawn characters and a very intriguing world. It just doesn't completely pay off by the end. The best part is probably the setting. It is set in a modern world with magic, but not the kind where magic has secretly always existed, or where a select few know about the magic world. When it starts to flirt with those tropes, the tone becomes dull and lifeless. Rather

Comics Briefly: Action Comics #5, Animal Man #5, Huntress #4, Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes #4, Swamp Thing #5

Favorite Issue this Week: Huntress #4 All Issues new in stores on 1/4/12 Action Comics #5 Written by Grant Morrison, Pencils Andy Kubert, Inks Jesse Delperdang, Colorist: Brad Anderson Backup Story: Writer: Sholly Fisch, Artist: ChrisCross, Colorist: Jose Villarrubia Ha, I knew if you left Grant Morrison in charge things would get weird sooner rather than later. The beginning of this issue is pretty good, a quick and pretty retelling of the launch of Superman's rocket from Krypton, and his discovery by the Kents. This is elaborated on in the backup, which focuses on the Kent's marriage and desire for children. The end of the main story veers off into the zone of "this feels like it might make sense if I had a lot of obscure information." And who is that on the last page? Spoiler: Grown up Legionnaires? I... am honestly not sure how I feel about this. In the next issue, the level of insanity could turn awesome, or just get more disjointed and confusing. W

The Demolished Man

The Demolished Man Alfred Bester, 1953 Premise: Ben Reich, industrialist and CEO is determined to destroy his hated rival D'Courtney. But there hasn't been a  premeditated murder for over seventy years, so he'll have to find a new way to trick the mind-reading Espers working in every level of society. Powell is an Esper 1, an extremely powerful mind-reader working with the police. These two powerful men clash explosively, but it will all come down to the secret of Ben's nightmare nemesis, The Man With No Face. First Novel to win the Hugo Award. This is a very intriguing book with a weak ending. It's an interesting mesh of a sci-fi world with a very hard noir tone; the style is rooted in that exploitative world of dames and gangsters that no one can really pull off nowadays. In some ways this is a mystery with no hero or villain; both Reich and Powell act only for their own interests and for what they want out of society. Reich is a lot more murderous, bu

Announcement: Hugo Project

Last year, I started following the blog  Dreaming About Other Worlds , and was really intrigued by an plan on that blog, to read and review all of the novels that have won Hugos. I thought, what a great idea! I'd love to try that. But I didn't, then. About eight months ago I actually read through the list of Hugo-winning novels, and found I've already read about half of them. But I didn't add to that list... then. A few months ago I decided to give it a shot. When I've got a few posted I'll set up a page to collect the reviews. I am NOT going to go straight through, that would be crazy, but I'm hoping to slowly get through the list. Wish me luck.