Non-Work 2013

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Non-Work 2013

Reading 2013

2k13/12

  • The Emperor of Gondwanaland. Filippo. Abandoned. This collection of short stories has some interesting ideas, some pedestrian ideas, and then quickly descends into essentially obscene trash, the kind of juvenile writing that's offensive just to be offensive. A few are good though. Anselmo Merino is solid, though probably because it's a redoing of a Melville novel. Clouds and Cold Fires is also a good story of uplifted Earth caretakers.
  • The Writ of Years. Mandelo. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Nostalgist. Wilson. Short story on Tor.com.
  • House of Dreams. Swanwick. Short story on Tor.com.
  • In the Greenwood. Ness. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Second World War. Beevor. Non-fiction. An excellent ground-level view of the entirety of the second world war. It doesn't come with much analysis, context, or consequences, but it covers all of the theaters with equal care, and presents a detailed picture of the vast scope of human and particularly female suffering Detailed thoughts.

2k13/11

  • What Hath God Wrought. Howe. Non-fiction. Stunningly excellent, probably the best history book I have ever read.
  • The Oregon Trail Diary of Willa Porter. Marino. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Betrayer. Dembski-Bowden. The twenty-fourth book in the Horus Heresy series, and quite possibly the best 40k novel I've read. Detailed thoughts.

2k13/10

  • Know No Fear. Abnett. The nineteenth book in the Horus Heresy series. It is very good, though the first third is by far the best. After that, as usual, it converts into a good extended battle sequence, but just an extended battle sequence. Much longer thoughts here.
  • Mechanique. Valentine. Excellent, original novel. Steampunk without such a focus on the gears pistons and more on what they mean. Really loose storytelling, which either works for the reader or doesn't. Especially through the first half an awful lot has to be pieced together mentally. Some of the syntactic writing style could be really offputting as well. I found a lot of the parantheticals pretty engaging, particularly the chapter that runs through the origins of the Grimaldi Brothers, but I could see people being put off by them. A number of interesting characters, very tough to decipher and lots of interesting space left for the reader to think about their motivations. Excellent ending too, never quite sure what was going to go down.
  • The Human Division. Scalzi. Great read. It leaves a ton of open plot threads and is in no way resolved at any high level, but at the same time it doesn't leave you unsatisfied. I think that is a product of the episodic construction, originally being published as serial chapters. I really warm to the basic premise of the later Old Man's War universe that humanity has by and large been the jerks, and that it is a coalition of aliens establishing what amounts to this series' Federation of Planets.
  • Zoe's Tale. Scalzi. I have not read The Last Colony, so there was a ton of story foreknowledge and structure to which I was not privy. But it didn't matter! This is a great science fiction novel. On its own it doesn't resolve predictably, it all makes sense, and has a lot of good characters and good story telling. It always takes me a few chapters to get into Scalzi's casual, talking-at-you voice, but he certainly writes fast moving novels. What really hooked me on this one early on was several points were I literally laughed out loud, an incredibly rare thing for a novel to induce. The one weird thing is how quickly the ++-+- REDACTED BY THE INQUISITION --++-+ disappear, though it is explained, and I gather that a major part of this book is ironically to provide a rationale for that same disappearance in The Last Colony.
  • Farside. Bova. The only good thing about this novel is that the cover painting is pretty good. The book's passably readable and mercifully short, but super boring---it's essentially all about cliched office politics on a lunar colony. Overall, about as exciting as chewed bubble gum. There's also a couple of plot points that don't make a ton of sense. I'd say the female characters all come across as pretty empty, except that pretty much all of them do. There is actually a pretty troubling flashback scene though whereby the female lead gets date raped and literally just puts it aside as no big deal. No further use is made of this bit of background. All in all, a highly skippable text.
  • Radio Freefall. Jarpe. A fun, fast moving read. I don't think it's going to stick around as something super memorable, but it's solid. In particular, it does a reasonable job of building a story around the Web and software agents of the middle-distance future, something many authors trip over.

2k13/9

  • Mouse Guard: The Black Axe. Petersen. Really good. This is the third volume of the series, a prequel to the previous two. I've only read the first volume, and the second would have been useful to provide a bit more dramatic context to this story. It definitely stands on its own though. As always the artwork is universally wonderful---backgrounds, characters, peripherals. I especially like the narrative bits at the beginning laying out the overall tense of the world as the mice in the panels go about doing various specific things. Several of the characters are fairly complex, and how the story gets to where it has to get has a number of interesting twists. Great read.

2k13/8

  • Ravenor. Abnett. Pretty solid. Not hugely deep, but has a bunch of interesting characters, and as usual the Inquisition setting brings a lot of variety to 40k that you don't generally get in the Space Marine side. Some of it is pretty intriguing though, e.g., that one of the main characters, Ravenor himself, is at this point so crippled he's literally a sentient box.
  • Cayos in the Stream. Turtledove. Short story on Tor.com.
  • 2312.Non-Work2013 Robinson. It's clear why Robinson gets a ton of hype in sci-fi circles: His worlds and universe are all of plausibly realistic, optimistic, and very imaginative. Unlike his Mars trilogy, here he doesn't sink into the same trap of egregiously detailing every rock and scientific process, though there's still much focus placed on both. Similarly, his characters are again often somewhat complex, though much less so and fewer in this work. His writing combined with that imagination can also be beautiful. There are multiple scenes in 2312 that are near breathtaking. But there's almost no plot. Rather, there is a great plot set up through the first third of the novel. Then there's another third of a lot of very clever flying around the solar system and terraforming, and some actually great character sequences like the Mercury tunnel. Eventually though, by the last third the plot just fizzles out. A number of major things aren't satisfactorily resolved and the major arc is a giant anticlimax. Between the hype and my mixed feelings on Mars, I went into this trepidly but willing to engage and was pleasantly surprised through a large portion of it. Then I was really let down by some quick wrapup of the characters and a giant "That's it?" of a denouement of the major mystery. This is definitely unfortunate as the book shows a ton of promise.
  • Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 02. Wagner, Mills, Bolland. I have mixed feelings on this. It definitely shows its age. There's some basic science howlers, overt and lazy referencing (in the final issues fights a literal Dr Frankenstein), and general late '70s/early '80s ridiculous goofyness with the characters. Lots of ethnic stereotyping, funny accents, and so on, though nothing too bad. Almost no female characters though. Worse, many important points also just doesn't make any sense. A big part of this volume is devoted to the Cursed Earth epic, in which Dredd slugs through the radioactive interior of the United States to deliver vaccines to Mega City Two. The whole volume makes clear earth-wide and even interstellar travel is still a common, everyday thing in Judge Dredd's day. Yet, the vaccines have to go across transported by Dredd in a ridiculous tank and motorcycle? Some mention is made of the fact that mutants have overrun the spaceports in MC2, but... Dredd can't assault the spaceports and take them back over? Parachutes? Jetpacks? Grav engines? Anything? It just all makes no sense. Most damning though, there's clearly a lot of great places to take the whole series to deeper places, but in this volume at least they always pull their punches. E.g., the second part of this volume is about the tyrannical lunatic Judge Caligula taking over Mega City One, imposing arbitrary and terrible rule. All of the other judges essentially immediately fall in line with this. There could have been something great there about fascism and government and power, but in the event every judge gets off the hook: Cal had simply brainwashed all of them via their daily briefing. A huge lost opportunity. My understanding is the series does get into some of those things later on, it's just a question of how much slogging through is required to get to that payoff.

2k13/7

  • The Rise of Ransom City. Gilman. Looking back on my archive and memory, I was somewhat underwhelmed by Gilman's previous story The Half-Made World, but the central concept of Gun and Line and the Unmade World have stuck with me pretty well. This book essentially picks up from the last one, though it's not necessary to have read it. The focus of characters is completely different and the plot not dependent. Gilman writes this one in a quaint 19th century memoir style. It's very appropriate but a bit off-putting at first. Eventually it gels though and reads well, like you'd assume a conversation with Mark Twain would feel. Notably, the book ends very well, with no punches pulled and the strong waft of mystery and great forces off beyond the edge of the world.
  • Market Forces. Morgan. I'm not sure what to make of this book. Part of it is based on a fairly ridiculous premise that's hard to get past in the first few pages: That Wall-street types have adopted Road Warriors-style combat as their primary mechanism of competing for promotions and contracts. Behind that though is a lot about markets, arms running, and high finance. The vehicular premise really pushes the suspension of disbelief, but it does actually work to underscore what's going on with these guys, so I have mixed feelings. Behind all of that is a main character that's also hard to really come to grips with. He has some noble qualities, but they're drenched in blood and personal soullessness. Definitely well written though, it reads great. Overall for me though the book's just a touch too celebratory of violence and murder even as it champions global underdogs.
  • Saga: Volume 2. Vaughan. Remains pretty good. There's a very touching moment here with a mouse soldier and the robot prince. The real downside is just that of nearly all comics: It takes so long for the story to elaborate. Some things definitely happen in this volume, same as the last, and it's all good, but it's taking a long time to hang the meat on the bones. The robot prince, for example, is shaping up to potentially have a lot of depth to him between his family, apparent PTSD, and arguable general amorality, but it's just taking soooo long to build that up. Write a novel, Vaughan!
  • Thirteen. Morgan. Tellingly published in the UK as Black Man. This is a fantastic novel that could make a great movie lead by Idris Elba or Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. It reads like an early early precursor to the Kovacs novels. You can see some of the technology starting to form, the heavy corporate culture and genetic manipulation, early exploration and colonization of Mars. It opens with a great sci-fi horror crime hook juxtaposed against a fascinating, misty adventure through the Andes. The strong combination of Martian exploitation alongside the same in South American is really captivating. The book then proceeds on to essentially a lengthy discussion about humanity, genetics, and revenge, with some good plot twists.
  • The Devil's Eye. McDevitt. Another very solid though not particularly amazing Alex Benedict novel. Notably, this one does include a lot more about the Mutes, which is pretty cool.
  • Woken Furies. Morgan. Gets down hardcore to the noir and yakuza, dockside crime war feel after Broken Angels was a bit more spacey and militaristic, though there's a long segment here with a great winter robot war milieu. As expected there's a lot of great changing ground and shifting characters, and Kovacs picks up more introspective depth to him.
  • Broken Angels. Morgan. Another brilliant Takeshi Kovacs sci-fi hardboiled noir thriller. Several gratuitous graphic sex scenes somewhat oddly thrown in there so it's not for everybody, but this is a great novel. Good characters and the plot doesn't really resolve in a particularly expected fashion. The one downside is some truly universe-altering discoveries are made here, but that's kind of where the story ends, with not much really acknowledging the true enormity.
  • Looking for Jake. Miéville. Some of these are pretty good, some are so-so. Not super memorable after a time.
  • Perdido Street Station. Miéville. Could probably be trimmed a touch or two. There are many elements here that aren't bad, but they just flesh out the world rather than really growing the story. That said, the world is incredible and worthwhile. The characters are all also largely amazing. Nobody walks out of this clean, which makes the ending a bit of a downer but also refreshing in a mangy, squalid way. Millions of openers and loose ends left alive here while the main story is also resolved squarely.
  • King Rat. Miéville. Incredible modern-day extension of the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The plot is good and stays strong throughout the story, as do the characters. There's a lot of real interest among them. Most fascinating to me though is the language. King Rat talks spectacularly, the cockney London jive and idiosyncratic slang leaps from the page.

2k13/6

  • Seeker. McDevitt. Better than the previous Benedict/Kolpath outing, Polaris. It dips a little bit toward the end as it gets more into some fairly tepid action/adventure bits, but most of it focuses on the exploration, archeology, and history sleuthing.
  • Burning Girls. Schanoes. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Jake and the Other Girl. Laybourne. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Polaris. McDevitt. This is a predictable but largely entertaining novel, as expected, but gets most interesting when it shows just a hint of deeper issues toward the end. In the vein of Altered Carbon below, it just begins to touch on a discussion of what truly long longevity or immortality might mean, what impact that would have on people's basic humanity. The discussion is very short though, and this is largely a surface level sci-fi mystery.
  • A Talent for War. McDevitt. Fun, light adventure sci-fi in the Alex Benedict universe. Has a couple somewhat inexplicable plot points toward the end---e.g., how do the mutes track them down?---but they're all minor and easily overlooked. Others are deeper and take longer to hit, e.g., that absolutely no trace of one piece of tech survived after the war, or that Alex isn't fabulously wealthy and the most powerful person ever after rediscovering it. Still, good fun.
  • The Scar. Miéville. Incredible. The world here is rich, the characters and plot complex, and all of it unexpected. The book is dense and a bit slow to read for some time from the opening, but eventually opens up to become a long, intricate, fascinating novel. Extremely highly recommended. Note that it is not at all necessary to have read Perdido Station prior to this.
  • The Too Clever Fox. Bardugo. Short story on Tor.com. Somewhat predictable, but a really nice fairy tale type story.
  • Altered Carbon. Morgan. Really good cyber-noir. Lots of solid action, good environments and visuals, tons of interesting characters. Some of them are fairly complex as well, and several are very likable without unfairly pulling the heartstrings. The morals and questions here definitely don't beat you over the head, but there's a number of interesting things going on about longevity, cloning, etc. Highly recommended, but a note to those for whom this matters that it has a ton of pretty explicit sex and violence.
  • Against a Dark Background. Banks. Readable, but not particularly compelling. All of the main characters are not particularly likable, some definitely unappealing. The protagonists reek of privilege and are much vaunted, but ultimately come up idiots and die appropriately ignoble deaths. By far the most interesting characters are some of the comparatively sideline characters, like Roa and Feril. The novel also throws in a ridiculous numbers of plot reveals and reversals, and magic machines, but is ultimately pretty predictable---the bad guy reveal is completely foreseeable from the start. Not many thoughtful bits to take away from all of it either. A disappointing start to Banks' much hyped books. Note that there is a minor unpublished epilogue available online.
  • Railsea. Miéville. Beautiful, incredible novel. The sheer imagination and worldbuilding on display is incredible, and backed up by the fluid literariness of it all. Probably the mini-meta-chapters could have been foregone, but they fit with the 19th century style being evoked and don't overstay their welcome. The ending is all of unpredictable, comfortingly expected, a bit of a letdown, and perfect. The bit of pre-history and final characters revealed make a small negative note in their unexpected simplistic cartoonishness and the overt sermonizing, but it's a small blip. Otherwise it's a fantastic ending. Characters throughout the novel are all great. Nobody feels flat, tons of diversity, and good progression from the leads. Love the typographic conventions and portmanteaus, beautiful stylistic use of language in a dense, iron, Melville fashion. Probably a bit dense for young adult and general readership, but well worth it for fans of Melville, historical anachronism, and a fresh take on the post-apocalyptic milieu. Amazing.
  • Zone One. Whitehead. Solid, readable zombie fiction, but never rises above the genre or introduces anything new.

2k13/5

  • Judge Dredd. IDW 2012 edition, 1 through 4. Pretty good stories, some interesting aspects, great world art. Solid fun.
  • The Elephant in the Room. Cornell. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Nine Billion Names of God. Clarke. Short story.
  • Blue Mars. Robinson. The tedious geography descriptions are much more minimized in this, the final volume of the trilogy, though there's still an awful lot of pages to be skipped quite frequently. Characterization is much better, and there are some great scenes, like Ann and the bear. She finishes her arc here, decisively coming to the front as one of the more interesting characters. All in all solid, just not worth focusing on actually reading everything.
  • Green Mars. Robinson. Definitely the worst of the trilogy, the focus on terraforming impels Robinson to spend far too much time on his fetish for tediously long descriptions of Martian geography. Worse, the interesting character bits are relatively limited. I only made it through by rapidly skimming many many pages at a time.
  • The Button Man and the Murder Tree. Priest. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Shall We Gather. Bledsoe. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Fire Above, Fire Below. Nix. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Red Mars. Robinson. This definitely falls into the category of sci-fi fans being completely over-obsessed with tediously long, detailed epics. Robinson does an amazing job of conveying the awe-inducing Martian landscape. But he puts so much emphasis into that and the science, it very nearly kills what is otherwise a largely fascinating story. Lots of interesting plot and environments---though mostly cramped confines---and a lot of discussion of what that does to people. Great characters, some of them very complex, most notably Frank.
  • We Have Always Lived on Mars. Castelluci. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Cloud Atlas. Mitchell. Incredible novel. Not so innovative in structure as some reviewers have stated, but an elegant piece of art in its construction. The handoffs are subtle and work nicely. Several of the six sections are definitely stronger, but they're all good. The early 20th century Belgian components are amazing in terms of feel and characterization. The Sonmi sections are very excellent as well, really capturing both a near future but completely different though very plausable world, and a great character and their development. Highly recommended.

2k13/4

  • Amped. Wilson. Most of this book is solid. Parts of it are a letdown. The first half with a lot more world building and introductions is pretty engaging, but then it jumps onto some standard gauge train tracks pretty quickly. It's certainly more predictable than Robopocalypse. Most of the plot is standard and cliched. The characters are also thin and cliched. Their interactions don't make a ton of sense except that they follow conventions---but of course they love each other! The book builds enough interest in the opener though and manages to move fast enough and be short enough to not grind to a halt in the back half.
  • Jack of Coins. Rowe. Short story on Tor.com. Not at all clear what's going on, but a good story with lots of atmosphere.
  • Sandman: Season of Mists. Volume 4. Gaiman. Excellent, excellent. A standout issue in a standout series. Lucifer's scenes and story in this volume are among the handful I remember best from originally reading this in high school. And the sunsets are bloody marvelous...
  • Robopocalypse. Wilson. This book had a ton of hype around it, and certainly doesn't really live up to that. It's not particularly earth shattering or particularly new in any way, but it is a very solid sci-fi action novel. Several of the characters are very intriguing, though most of the focus goes to the fighting characters, which is somewhat less interesting than it perhaps could be. Huge swaths of fascinating backstory are left out, which is actually a positive thing as it indicates a fairly compelling world. Disappointingly North American focused, which really only comes up because it includes enough elements elsewhere around the world to highlight that bias. Still, there are a bunch of good things in here to chew on. It definitely picks up a good number of thought elements as it moves in toward the finale. Recommended.
  • The Ink Readers of Doi Saket. Heuvelt. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Do Not Touch. Shen. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Adjustment Team. Dick. Public domain. Not as good as the movie roughly inspired by it.
  • Sing. Tidbeck. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Four Horsemen, At Their Leisure. Parks. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Things that Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away. Doctorow. Short story on Tor.com. Excellent tale of programmers and the state.
  • After the Coup. Scalzi. Short story on Tor.com. Fun, light, typical Scalzi.
  • Rag and Bone. Sharma. Short story on Tor.com. Excellent world.
  • Backscatter. Benford. Short story on Tor.com.

2k13/3

  • Vilcabamba. Turtledove. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Running of the Bulls. Turtledove. Short story on Tor.com. Hemingway as a dinosaur...
  • The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model. Anders. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Making my Entrance Again With My Usual Flair. Scholes. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Iron Shirts. Flynn. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Though Smoke Shall Hide the Sun. Mandelo. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Night Children. Smith. Short story on Tor.com. Pretty good WWII horror story. Don't read the introductory paragraph (italicized), it gives away too much (by relating the tale into the series of novels).
  • Ghost Hedgehog. Hoffman. Short story on Tor.com. The supporting characters in this work out a lot more understanding than the typical cliche would prescribe, which is nice.
  • Day One. Costello. Short story on Tor.com. Pretty solid short story, reasonably original take on a zombie theme, at least as it goes so far in this short piece.
  • Sandman: Dream Country. Volume 3. Gaiman. Definitely one of my favorite volumes. Pretty much all of the stories are good, and the A Midsummer Night's Dream sequence is far and away one of my favorites in the whole series that I'll never forget.
  • Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes. Volume 1. Gaiman. Some downs among the definite ups, but you can see the promise of the series already.
  • Lee at the Alamo. Turtledove. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Among the Silvering Herd. Dellamonica. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Mother, Crone, Maiden. Hellison. Short story on Tor.com. Solid story, intriguing background to a larger novel.
  • The Inconstant Moon. Johnson. Short story on Tor.com. Doesn't quite wrap up the way I expected, which is good. Pretty solid short story, interesting historical setting.
  • On 20468 Peacock. Duncan. Short story on Tor.com. The character dialog is somewhat entertaining with its clever give and go, but there isn't really enough going on here to quite carry to the end of even this short story. Wouldn't be shocked for the author to eventually develop the style into a good Douglas Adams-styled set of novels though.
  • Our Human. Castro. Short story on Tor.com. Really good. Completely unexpected twist most of the way through, leading to a good ending.
  • A Spell of Vengeance. Jackson. Short story on Tor.com. Interesting setting, some appealing characters, but it doesn't really have any oomph to it.
  • Day of the Kraken. Swanwick. Short story on Tor.com. This one actually has a surprise climax that's pretty good. Starting to develop a bit more characterization as well, which is good (follows up on The Fire Gown and The Mongolian Wizard below).
  • The Queen's Army. Meyer. Short story on Tor.com. Pretty predictable but moves along well, intriguing background setting.
  • Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia. Swirsky. Short story on Tor.com. Fairly novel, just mysterious enough, good story.
  • The Hanging Game. Marshall. Short story on Tor.com. Pretty predictable, but it's well written and somewhat intriguing.
  • Border Dogs: A SEAL Team 666 Adventure. Ochse. Short story on Tor.com. Ok, but lots of unnecessary military fanboyism (reciting all the model numbers, etc.), and it just doesn't really seem plausible, even within the context of being totally able to accept chupacabras.
  • Brother. Prince. Snake. Castellucci. Short story on Tor.com. Predictable but nice retelling of a fairy tale.
  • A Tall Tail. Stross. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Cairn in Slater Woods. Rosati. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Fire Gown. Swanwick. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Mongolian Wizard. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Men Who Wish to Drown. Fama. Short story on Tor.com. Short, good story in the style of a fantasy-infused Melville.
  • Heads Will Roll. McBride. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Finite Canvas. Mandelo. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Am I Free to Go? Cramer. Short story on Tor.com.
  • Intestate. Anders. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Ghosts of Christmas. Cornell. Short story on Tor.com.
  • The Rook. Snodgrass. Short story on Tor.com, part of the Wild Cards series.
  • Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan. Vaughn. Short story on Tor.com, part of the Wild Cards series.
  • When We Were Heroes. Abraham. Short story on Tor.com, part of the Wild Cards series. More personal look into a superhero trying to have a daily, everyday life.
  • Last Train to Jubilee Bay. Wallace. Short story on Tor.com. Nicely envisioned run down world, good hint of mystery and larger doings.
  • Angel Season. Petty. Short story on Tor.com. The fantasy aspect is kind of unnecessary, but it's a good story.
  • The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere. Chu. Short story on Tor.com. The fantasy element is a little weird, but the characters are well done.
  • Faster Gun. Bear. Short story on Tor.com. Really good. Bit of western, bit of sci-fi. Good atmosphere, lots of detail; the setting really comes through with all the rust flakes and twisted metal. The ending kind of makes it feal a little insubstantial, though perhaps with a full treatment it could build on that to actually go somewhere real substantial.
  • The Memory Coder. Brody. Short story on Tor.com. Pretty good. A bit predictable and needs more to really flesh out an actual novel story. A good beginning though or sketch on concepts for a longer treatment.
  • Terrain. Valentine. Short story on Tor.com. This actually hits a really good point for a short story. It has a bit of western, bit of history, bit of sci-fi. The latter is just intriguing and fleshed out enough but isn't the focus. That's really on the characters, and again it hits just the right point. You sort of know who they are and what's going on but you sort of don't, and have to think about it a fair bit. Really nice piece.
  • The Medusa Chain. Colon. Absolutely terrible DC comic book. Stops just short of incoherent.
  • The Sandman: The Doll's House. Volume 2. Gaiman.
  • Rising Stars: Fire and Ash. Volume 3. Straczynski.
  • Rising Stars: Visitations. Volume 2.5. Straczynski.
  • Rising Stars: Power. Volume 2. Straczynski.
  • Rising Stars: Born in Fire. Volume 1. Straczynski.

2k13/2

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle.
  • Batman: Year One. Miller. Classic "serious" comics. Interestingly, the cartoon adaptation that's out there is super faithful in both art and text, and does a great job bringing motion to a lot of the panels and their transitions.
  • Saga: Volume 1. Vaughan. Shows a lot of promise. The universe is definitely pretty out there. I love how bizarre the various species (I guess?) are, and how nonchalant they all are about their differences. Only downside is not a ton happens. By the end of this volume (6 issues), the story arcs have only barely just begun, with the next volume not even in sight yet (potential July 2013 release).

2k13/1

  • The City and the City. Miéville. Really great combination of noir and new weird fantasy. On the surface (ha!) it's a good detective story, with a lot of Eastern Europe vs Fascist theming going on. Behind that, I have to think more about potential deeper messages of the story, but it's a lot about segregation, cultural norms, and their absurdity. Besides the basic noir characters and vibe, perhaps what I like about it most is how subtly it introduces its basic premise. It arrives quietly, unannounced and unheralded, but with quite a shock, and over the first couple chapters you're all too appropriately just slowly emerged in the impossible logic of the world. Miéville also makes some interesting comments on fiction in an interview included in the Reader's Choice edition I have.
  • Ready Player One. Cline. This is a fun book, but it won't really hold up over time. The cover art and some background in the opening chapters about the stacks are actually the most interesting part to me. It's basically young adult fiction, but based so completely around a near endless stream of '80s nerd references that no actual young adult will have an interest in it. I could track pretty much every one of them, am squarely in the target demographic, and even I felt it little more than a sci-fi nerd masturbatory fanboy reference list writ large. Since it is so central to the premise and the book does move well it doesn't become annoying per se, but it does become tiresome. I guess you could argue it raises some good questions about the generation of new culture, creativity, the Internet, and reality, but they're all also pretty standard questions, and not backed up by any particular novelty or depth here.
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