Showing posts from December, 2013

Fearless Defenders Volume 1: Doom Maidens

Fearless Defenders Volume 1: Doom Maidens Cullen Bunn, Will Sliney, 2013 Premise: Collects Fearless Defenders #1-6 . Valkyrie has a problem. Since the troubles that Asgard has been having (it’s super complicated, but you don’t need to know the details to read this title), she was supposed to put together a new cadre of Shield-maidens to replace other vanished valkyries. She hasn’t exactly done that, and now an ancient team of death warriors are rising from their graves to correct the balance. Valkyrie and Misty Knight might need all the ladies of Marvel to get on board to save Earth from the Doom Maidens. This was really fun to read. The writing is really strong, the dialogue is snappy without being gimmicky, and the art only occasionally strays too far into cheesecake territory. It’s a great showcase book for a bunch of somewhat lesser-known Marvel superheroines. Valkyrie is the one I knew best, from a few issues here and there of various events and team books she appeared

A Yuletide Universe: Sixteen Fantastical Tales

A Yuletide Universe: Sixteen Fantastical Tales Editor: Brian M. Thomsen, 2003 Crossposted to Mainlining Christmas Hooray! Despite opening with an epigraph/poem that made me cringe (it started out rhyming, and then… stopped?) this was a much better collection of holiday cheer than the others I've read this year. My favorite stories are starred( * ). The collection opens with three super-short pieces: “Nicholas Was . . .” by Neil Gaiman, 1989 “Cyber-Claus” by William Gibson, 1991 * “Holiday” by Richard Christian Matheson, 1982 The Gaiman and Gibson are brief and forgettable, but the Matheson (this Matheson is the son of the more famous author) is a nice, subtle piece about a guy who runs into Santa on holiday in the tropics. “Nackles” by Donald E. Westlake, 1964 Westlake is mostly a crime fiction author, and this little spooky story about the creative power of belief is well done, if not (in 2013) particularly original. “Santa Claus vs. S.P.I.D.E.R.” by Harlan E

The Knights of Christmas

The Knights of Christmas Suzanne Barclay, Margaret Moore, Deborah Simmons, 1997 Crossposted to Mainlining Christmas Yup, it’s officially a theme. MORE SHORT STORIES. These ones are a little more like novellas, though. This is a Harlequin Historical compilation, three short works set at Christmas. I thought it might be a somewhat entertaining read: a bit of fluffy medieval holiday romance. Well, I was right, sort of, in that it was fluffy (in a shallow way) and medieval (in its uneasy gender roles). The first story, Kara’s Gift , was the one I actually liked. It has in common with its sibling stories awkward and somewhat off-putting description in the sex scenes, but the characters are at least likable, the story super-cliche but amusing. Duncan is a landless knight, back from the crusades with enough treasure to wed his childhood sweetheart, but instead he’s swept up in a Scottish clan-war and a wild-hearted pagan lass. It’s actually kind of sweet by the end, and the romanc

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories Connie Willis, 1979 Crossposted to Mainlining Christmas Awww, man! More disappointing Christmas stories. I went into this one with high hopes, because Willis’ story “Pony” was one of my favorites in Christmas on Ganymede . Unfortunately, it was one of my favorites here, too. It starts strong, with an introduction that was worth borrowing the book from the library for, just for the snark about Hans Christian *overrated hack* Andersen and the list of other recommended stories and movies, some of which weren’t on our radar yet! Sure, she thinks The/A Christmas Story is actually quality, and that's just wrong, whether you’re talking about the myth as literature or the movie as cinema (she likes both). But Willis is a Hugo winner! Surely, there are some good genre stories in here, right? Sort of. Lets run through the contents, shall we? “Miracle” Starts strong, woman receives visit from accidentally conjured hippy Spirit of Christma

The Ice Harvest

The Ice Harvest Scott Phillips, 2000 Crossposted to Mainlining Christmas Premise: Charlie Arglist is making the rounds on Christmas Eve, 1979: the bars he likes, the strip joint he runs and the one that he patronizes. He’s not telling anyone that he’s leaving town in the morning. Charlie’s not having a good night. I didn’t like the movie of this as much as Erin did, but I did really enjoy the book. It’s got a bleak humor that places it firmly in the best noir tradition. Charlie’s a lawyer, and he works in the machinery of the mob that runs much of the town, managing businesses like porn shops and the Tease-O-Rama. He’s skipping town in the morning. That’s all you know at the start of the book, and I really liked the slow build. The movie hits you right at the start with Charlie’s partnership with Vic, and why and how they plan to leave town, but for fully half of the book, all you know is that Charlie’s leaving, and he has to meet Vic at two. The book takes place over le

Christmas on Ganymede and Other Stories

Christmas on Ganymede and Other Stories Edited by Martin H Greenberg, 1990 Crossposted to Mainlining Christmas I was so excited when I found this book! A collection of sci-fi themed Christmas stories, just the thing to break up the Christmas monotony, right? Now I know why I kept finding copies of it for a dollar. It’s not all bad, there are some stories I liked, but most of the authors are phoning it in here. It’s like everyone had one mediocre holiday story in them, and instead of reading it in a collection of other good stories on other topics or other good stories by the same author, it’s bundled with every other author’s one mediocre story. But let’s be more specific, shall we? “To Hell with the Stars” Jack McDevitt, 1987 To hell with your pessimistic cliche attitude, Mr. McDevitt, warp drive might still be possible - 1 Star “A Midwinter's Tale” Michael Swanwick, 1988 A nicely creepy Solstice tale, well done - 4 Stars “Christmas on Ganymede” Isaac Asimo