Dr. James Mega has a problem: he's been invited to a sci-fi con to promote his new book Bimbos of the Death Sun. The problem is that other than his owDr. James Mega has a problem: he's been invited to a sci-fi con to promote his new book Bimbos of the Death Sun. The problem is that other than his own story, he doesn't really know a lot about the genre, or the publishing business, or about the types of people who show up to cons or what they do for entertainment. He just wants to sell a few more copies of his book before his students & co-workers find out his secret pen name. Unfortunately, Mega finds himself plunged into the heart of the con world when popular author & embittered object of fandom Appin Dungannon turns up murdered & the fen lose their collective minds.
Originally lent to me by someone in my writing group, I enjoyed laying around on my couch & just absorbing the story. First, it was curiously pleasing to read about an event that was still very regional & struggling to figure out how to get through an entire weekend of programming. In 2016, many cons (Comic-con, DragonCon, the PAXs) have become mainstream, huge-ticket, hype machines that attract insane crowds. It was nice for once to read about a con tucked away in the mountains of my home state with people coming from Annandale, Reston, & Richmond. And while certain specific technological elements have not aged well, McCrumb's book tries to place much of the focus on the characters & their specific hierarchies & rituals. Having attended a con myself, there was still a lot that rang true about people whose status as Big Name Fans are almost jobs unto themselves, filksingers (equal to general geek-culture musicians nowadays), & room parties. There were also a number of moments that made me curious about what McCrumb thinks of the current con scene & other related niche activities. At one point, Mega's girlfriend (& dueteragonist) Marion laments that the time, effort, & needlework that goes into some of the costumes that are only worn for a few times. (Compared to today, where many cosplay artists are venerated for their work & where patterns & fabrics can be bought just as easily at the fabric store.) At another point, Marion comforts a girl traumatized during a D&D session because her character in-game was deceived into marrying someone wearing the guise of her true love even though she-the-player knew what was going on. (Um, avatarrape anyone?) As for filksinging, come on--I think you can draw a pretty direct line from there to Jonathan Coulton & chiptune.
That's not to say that Bimbos is a perfect package. There are some really mean depictions of the fen & I can see that perhaps the author is making the point that even unpopular groups have their jerks & undesirables. But, Marion, who sometimes seems to be a stand-in for the author herself, gives a conflicted perspective. Sometimes she navigates the groups like a pro & corrects any accidental cruelty on James's part; other times she bites her tongue from telling the other con-goers, "Oh grow up. Really children. . ." And, yes, all of the technology mentioned in the novel is old, outdated, & seemingly silly but since I was already enjoying the story more than being frustrated by it, I was willing to do a mental search-and-replace while reading, substituting an obstinate hard drive with a locked smartphone. (The replacement actually works, especially considering the main police investigator is an older cranky man who curses the vagaries of electronics.)
Overall, a fun read & still somewhat relevant for explaining the intense societies of geeky subcultures. Recommended for those who like to laugh at their own adopted scene....more
2.5 instead of 2. Twylla is a young woman plucked from her agrarian background to serve as courtier & embodiment of the goddess Daunen at the roya2.5 instead of 2. Twylla is a young woman plucked from her agrarian background to serve as courtier & embodiment of the goddess Daunen at the royal palace. Familiar with the myths as a former sin-eater-in-training, she allows herself to be swept up in the pageantry of court only to find that she is meant to serve as Executioner & as a tool of the Queen's "divine" power. Betrothed to a prince she barely knows & isolated from all other attendants due to her physical manifestations of the divine, Twylla finds herself suddenly questioning what she knows when a new guard from another land is assigned to her retinue.
So I picked up this book because the title interested me: the mythological concept of sin-eating is something I've enjoyed exploring since I came across the idea as a kid reading tons of fantasy & supernatural stories. Unfortunately, my curiosity did not bear fruit. Salisbury has some interesting elements here that normally would hit all my interests: lands where magic & science compete & the corresponding degree of technology to each, notable intersections of faith, duty, desire, & physicality, and the struggle to remake one's self after understanding that basic truths about your world are wrong. If you're someone who has grown up in a strict religion or isolated from mainstream society or in an environment that emphasizes control or expression through food or other physical needs, some of this book might hit home for you.
But then the love triangle Twylla finds herself in takes over & I got bored real fast. Much like what I've read of the Grisha series so far, there is a really evocative world built around these characters with a healthy dose of paranoia & cautious discovery mixed in that makes the possibilities set up in the story seem immediate & boundless. And while there are some great opportunities to explore relationships & power here, it all eventually comes down to which boy will our heroine pick. And guess what?! She gets an ending where she keeps both of them in her life. Sigh. Sure. Twylla literally has no shred of her former life or skill set remaining but let's make sure she gets a really cute boy or two out of it.
There is another book in the series & looking at the Goodreads reviews for that one, it's supposed to be better than this. I might end up reading it eventually, but this first book has squandered any interest I had left over....more
I finally got around to reading this classic this year, after realizing that some of the school kids at my public library were reading it for class. WI finally got around to reading this classic this year, after realizing that some of the school kids at my public library were reading it for class. Why not? I figured & picked up a copy myself. Watership Down follows a plucky group of rabbits who leave when Fiver, a more mystical rabbit, receives a presentiment that their burrow is under threat. With his brother Hazel, the group sets off on a trek to find a peaceful home & have many adventures learning about the wide world & how other warrens have survived.
I'm glad to have finally read this & I do wish I had come across it when I was younger. I think it would have made a much more emotional impact. As an adult, I was more interested in the world-building Adams undertakes: the myths of the first rabbit El-ahrairah, the Lapine language. The scenes with Cowslip's warren are tense & entrancing. But, as a detached reader, I soon picked up that nothing too terrible would happen to any of the named main characters. They might get wounded or change their perspectives but none of them would actually die--and this suspicion was borne out. With the resulting low stakes, reading Down remained more of an intellectual exercise than an absorbing read....more
The first volume of a thorough retrospective collecting Jaime Hernández's Maggie & Hopey stories. Starting as a series of sci-fi shaggy dog storieThe first volume of a thorough retrospective collecting Jaime Hernández's Maggie & Hopey stories. Starting as a series of sci-fi shaggy dog stories, Locas slowly develops into more realistic anecdotes about the relationship between the two punk Chicanas as well as stories about their friends, their neighborhood, & ultimately about what life they seek out as they each grow up.
Having read Amor y Cohetes previously was a definite boost and gave me something to refer back to when I struggled through some of the slower story moments. There was the added bonus of actually knowing some of the visual references beforehand as well--when Jaime draws a scene with a crowd or a party, many of the fill-in characters are people from other comics by himself or his brothers. With that said, new readers do not need to worry that this first collection is too dense or self-referential. I quickly learned that if someone or something new appeared on the page, it would be explained sooner rather than later.
The driving force of the whole collection, of course, is the ever-changing relationship between the beguiling Hopey & the open-hearted Maggie. Their dynamic as they argue, support each other, cause trouble, separate & reunite was what kept me reading. And the people that surround them are equally compelling--it wasn't long before I was just as wrapped up in Penny Century's desperate attempts to find satisfaction or Izzy Ortiz's vague, haunted perspective. I did a happy dance when Rocky from Amor y Cohetes showed up briefly & I fell in lust with Joey Glass despite my better judgement.
And the art! Did I mention the expressive way that Hernández draws faces or how everyday people with nearly every body type appear in each story. Or how I can't stop taking pictures of certain panels? The cover of Locas itself is the best advertisement since it is made up of panels that work as mini-works of art.
Overall, I recommend Locas to readers who have lots of time to spare & are very curious about the Love & Rockets series. A book this size is a commitment & really won't draw you in if it pick it up casually. This book especially works for completest readers who want to know everything from the very beginning, but be advised that there is another waiting for you when you finish....more
A weighty, comprehensive look at the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway committed by Anders Breivik. Similar to Columbine & In Cold Blood, SeierstadA weighty, comprehensive look at the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway committed by Anders Breivik. Similar to Columbine & In Cold Blood, Seierstad traces Breivik's family life & formative experiences to what eventually led to his massacre. Given equal attention are the origins of some of his victims as well as political & cultural changes in Norway. The final section focuses on the resulting trial & the immediate after effects.
This is not an easy read, says this blogger who has some experience reading true crime. Seierstad's portrayal of her subject is at turns sad, thought-provoking, revolting, & merciless. Her exacting portrait & the balance of describing the victims' lives create parallels & echos that chilled me. The apex, for me, were her brief scenes of describing her subjects sleeping the night before the attack, including a bomb nestled safely in its container.
The last fourth of the book is particularly powerful; some of the author's restraint is loosened in covering the trial--a proceeding that the law fought to keep on track despite Breivik's eagerness for spectacle. I was also struck with the idea of Norway's "culture of words" that seems to be a underlying theme, where all sides can debate & discuss their way to a solution or compromise. If anything, this focus on discourse makes Breivik's acts more brutal as he zig-zags his way through parties & friendships that match his interests to a manifesto cobbled together from disparate sources to finally talking himself into the "necessity" of his violence. At an early point during the shooting, one of the children says to others with them, "If he's shooting, we should tell him to stop." On one hand this can be a breathtakingly naive view but on the other hand, this belief also speaks to the point of why we try to better ourselves as humans--to get to the point where we don't hurt one another. When you have someone who rejects that, how do you respond? The question has lingered with me since finishing the book....more
A truly idiosyncratic book. This volume of interstitial stories from the Love and Rockets series covers everything from slapstick animation, an impresA truly idiosyncratic book. This volume of interstitial stories from the Love and Rockets series covers everything from slapstick animation, an impressionistic history of Frida Kahlo, a mixed-up stigmatic girl living in a dystopian city, an unseen menace capable of controlling minds, & even the suicide of one of the Hernández brothers. I picked up this volume as a newbie to L&R in general & didn't want to be caught unawares amid the ongoing Palomar & Locas storylines. Instead, I was treated to oddball characters & weird science fiction that would do any B-movie proud. And I was totally captivated!
I think the mini-series that I enjoyed the most was Errata Stigmata, mainly because I instantly recognized it as an influence on Sacred Heart & the almost A Clockwork Orange-like vibe clicked with me. The stories of Rocky Rhodes (ha ha) was also reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's habit of de-fantasizing science fiction & making space travel & robots as everyday as cars and TV. The art is fantastic too--there are all sorts of faces, body types, & expressions that just made me stop & stare for minutes at a time. It's cool, weird, & a sort-of WTF-ness that you have to experience for yourself
Overall, I'm pleased that I started with this collection & am excited to move onto the series proper. Note to other readers: some familiarity with Spanish will be necessary to understand certain one-shots collected here. But if you don't it shouldn't be too much of an impediment....more
A witty, informative cultural survey of the major Nordic countries & the people that inhabit them. Booth, a veteran reporter, journeys through DenA witty, informative cultural survey of the major Nordic countries & the people that inhabit them. Booth, a veteran reporter, journeys through Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, & Sweden to uncover the mystique of their progressive social democratic societies. He ultimately presents a nuanced, affectionate portrait of the region, giving readers plenty of juicy gossipy tidbits & substantial sociological research.
With my interest in (one of) my ancestral lands rekindled by reading Scandinavia and the World & Stand Still Stay Silent I picked up Booth's book (& a conversational Norwegian guide) hoping to get a clearer picture of the contemporary North. I was not disappointed--Booth's overview will bring readers up to speed on current events as well as give a compact & breezy history of the different nations. There are also plenty of quotes from regional sociological & philosophical works that will give those interested in further reading a comprehensive list.
Recommended to readers curious about the area or enjoy ironic humor & meaty cultural facts sprinkled through their travelogues....more
An interesting overview of Jewish history & the creation of the Israeli state intertwined with Harvey Pekar's own view of Jewish nationalism. JT WAn interesting overview of Jewish history & the creation of the Israeli state intertwined with Harvey Pekar's own view of Jewish nationalism. JT Waldman's art compliments the shifts in time with era-specific illustrations & graphics.
Definitely for American Splendor intermediaries. The book was completed after Pekar died & does feel a little incomplete. Pekar discusses the evolution of his ideas about Israel going from his parents' influence to his own disillusionment. But I was left wondering if Harvey's parents ever experienced the same change of heart or how the changing policies of the Jewish home-state ever affected them as they aged. Readers do get some satisfaction with Joyce Brabner's epilogue, but I was still left with an unsatisfied feeling. Overall a quick but engaging read that serves as a quiet closing chapter to a lifetime of thoughtful work by Pekar....more
It's the 1970s in the Pacific Northwest & all the typical teenager angst applies: popularity, figuring out what you want, & wondering if the pIt's the 1970s in the Pacific Northwest & all the typical teenager angst applies: popularity, figuring out what you want, & wondering if the people you call your friends are decent people. But there's a weird STD going around, one that causes the kids who are infected to physically change in various ways--some noticeable, some not. The story mainly follows Keith & Chris, two kids who go to the same high school, as they try to figure out how to grow up in a dead-end suburb with ostracism & frustrated hopes at every turn.
I've had this on my reading list ever since I came across the Washington Post book review that described the book's atmosphere as on par with Twin Peaks or the songs of Elliot Smith. And while the story certainly had enough existential gloom to satisfy me, I didn't totally fall in love with it. Burns's art is certainly beautiful & has plenty of visual symmetry & there are some interesting parallels that "the bug" can stand in for, like being gay, or poor, or addicted to some destructive behavior. The story itself was plenty of weird authentic moments strung together with a lot of intense what-ifs that didn't have the same desperation or emotional resonance. (In fact, I wonder if I had read this first before something like Sacred Heart if I would be more satisfied.)
I did really enjoy following Keith's & Chris's journeys, although I did tend to lean more towards favoring Chris. She starts out as the pretty girl next door but her frustration with everyone wanting something from her & how that eventually pushes her into loneliness & fierce determination to live on her own terms was very poignant. Or maybe I'm just happy that both of these protagonists were equally well-developed & I could relate well to the female protagonist. (My husband also read this at the same time & he admitted that he really got Keith's perspective, even though he liked both characters.)
The murders in the woods--kind of a meh plot. It feels like sort of a given that if you leave a group of humans unsupervised & outside of society for awhile, we're going to start doing terrible things to each other. But, because of my recollection of the original WaPo review influencing my expectations, I did end up sort of seeing the reluctant henchman Dave as a weird double for Elliot Smith. (His mouth deformities; Elliot's facial scars--memory is a highly associative thing.) Overall, an interesting beautiful read but ultimately diluted by my long wait to get around to it. Another warning for me that if I see something, I should probably read it sooner rather than later....more
A contemplative, atmospheric juvenile graphic novel in the spirit of Peter Spier's Rain or The Mysteries of Harris Burdick about the experience of leaA contemplative, atmospheric juvenile graphic novel in the spirit of Peter Spier's Rain or The Mysteries of Harris Burdick about the experience of leaving one's country to find refuge in another. Tan's book follows an unnamed father as he leaves his family behind in their native country in order to find work & a new place to live in another, more peaceful land. Equal parts realistic & fantastical, the art takes inspiration from Ellis Island documents, Ashcan School art, Surrealism & silent films to illustrate the past & present hardships of the immigrant characters, but ultimately delivers a quietly hopeful message about hope & the ties of community.
Recommended to me by a friend, I had no idea what to expect when I picked it up. But each page is an invitation to really focus on the detailed pictures & allow yourself to be absorbed in each character's story. Tan's art darts between being photorealistic when rendering people's faces or hands & being intricately whimsical when depicting the odd creatures that become familiars to the newcomers or the alien languages or geometries that make up the city. Beautiful, expressive & ultimately kind, Arrival is a wonderful book to share with children curious about history & an indulgence for adults who enjoy lingering over the art in graphic novels....more
The world ends, but it really doesn't. Chuck Palahniuk's story ends but it doesn't. Tyler dies, but he really doesn't. In the most meta issue of the sThe world ends, but it really doesn't. Chuck Palahniuk's story ends but it doesn't. Tyler dies, but he really doesn't. In the most meta issue of the series yet, author-character Chuck Palahniuk gets to have all the endings. He writes the destruction of Rize or Die & the death of Tyler but the readers of the series show up on the stoop & demand a rewrite. The crowd (including Palahniuk & his writer friends) retrieve Marla, Sebastian & co. from a tomb with Robert Paulson's help. Tyler & Palahniuk go off to talk about what happens next & Mr. Durden kills his creator in hopes to live another day.
First, to Palahniuk's in-universe statement that the book ended differently, I'd like to say, NO. DUH. Some of us have been uncomfortable with all the changes since issue #0.
That said, all I can say is well, that's over. That was certainly a story. It was interesting seeing Palahniuk take on a new medium to tell his story, although I'm not sure how well the serial format allowed him room to write. But perhaps it works in the sense that there's plenty of fourth wall breaking & allows Palahniuk to vent his authorial frustrations. I think the idea of cultural memory & its short-sightedness is not fully explored here. Also, the final premise that Palahniuk's readers have no idea that there's a Fight Club book is weird to me both as a reader & as someone who once worked in a bookstore & knew Palahniuk's readers on sight as a specific, intense & completest set of customers. I know that there are probably people who know the movie more familiarly than the book, but the idea that it's totally unknown? Noooooooo. . . At least my various frustrations with this series did bear out & were shared by the Palahniuk character. Overall, this collection is ok but other than being a public confession of struggling with one's own success--I don't know. Not something I'll be revisiting....more
The novel follows Nathan Zuckerman as he tries to unravel his fascination with Coleman Silk, a former classics professor at Athena College who had resThe novel follows Nathan Zuckerman as he tries to unravel his fascination with Coleman Silk, a former classics professor at Athena College who had resigned after a scandal that painted him a racist. Silk has found comfort with Faunia, a younger woman whose own trials have lead her to seek out tougher, more direct philosophy of life. After the pair meet a tragic end, Zuckerman starts examining the people & the town around them in order to make sense of the events leading to their death.
I struggled with this book & only finished it because my husband loves Philip Roth & I wanted to figure out why. I think Roth is a conflicted (& possibly insecure) writer whose style is meant primarily to provoke readers. There were parts of the story that were structured similarly to older Victorian novels but Roth soon interrupted himself with terse "racy" monologues about sex & stretches of unimaginative repetitive profanity. He also writes about pop culture & contemporary events in a shrill, combative tone as if they prove the worst aspects of his point without a doubt.
With that said, if you can force your way past all of these defense mechanisms (& it will not be easy), there are moments of vulnerable, real emotion & Roth is able to deliver his story in a less antagonistic way. He may struggle to capture his characters voices in first person, but he illustrates intimate moments between two people in third person well. There are also many interesting parallels between Zuckerman's story & the themes of Greek classics at play & there is some fun in putting the pieces together. I even found myself sympathizing with Mark Silk & Delphine Roux, two characters originally set up as opposition to Coleman but who gain depth as the novel goes on. But for all of these more accessible ways into Roth's story, he will not leave the reader alone & will keep pointing out that he's manipulating the story until he finally calms down again in the last chapter & says his piece.
There are quite a few secondary topics in The Human Stain that still resonate in 2016: the fracturing of education, cultural apathy, how our ambition hurts others, the perils of living too much in our mind or our ideals, the persistence of media & falsehood in an all-access media age. (Quote:"Even if you demonstrate something's a lie, in a place like Athena, once it's out there, it stays." Oh honey, you have no idea what's coming.) So, I guess my suggestion to anyone interested in reading this book is to do some mental calculation. If any of the above appeals to you, just be aware that you'll be exploring them with a difficult, angry author more interested in shouting his point at you than challenging you to consider his train of thought....more
Lee Garner takes drastic steps to convince the coder he's imprisoned with to give up information that the Arcadian government wants in exchange for hiLee Garner takes drastic steps to convince the coder he's imprisoned with to give up information that the Arcadian government wants in exchange for his & his wife's freedom. Coral helps lead a rescue mission to save her parents & gets everyone back to the hacker camp. But, the damage is done--the Arcadian powers have root access to the simulation & Lee Pepper finds himself struggling in the analog world to navigate new tides of authority.
There's something disheartening in being able to measure just how & when your interest in something drops off. For example, the use of current slang in a five-seconds-into-the-future sci-fi story is a personal pet peeve & each time it cropped up in the past 4 issues, I cared a little less about what happened next. But I was willing to let it go because I was still curious about the world. Then, this issue used both "mansplaining" & "Gamergate" within the space of a few pages & any interest I had dropped perilously close to zero. Yeah, millions upon millions of people died hideously & are only being kept "alive" by a perilously thin digital network, but we still care enough about culture-war-speak to use it in everyday conversation. I think there are other things to worry about.
Also, the reveal at the end of Arcadia's foundational secret was also a non-starter. (Hint: The heart of the digital world is made up of one semi-delusion personality--just like Otherland. Seriously, just go read Otherland) So, unfortunately, this will be the last issue I read, even though I'll buy the 5th issue because the collected covers complete a mural & I do love the art. Too bad too, I really did take a shine to Lee Pepper & his scrappy band of survivors....more
Sebastian Narrator is reunited with his family, but not before he gets into a fist fight with his son & wife separately. Dr. Wrong petitions TylerSebastian Narrator is reunited with his family, but not before he gets into a fist fight with his son & wife separately. Dr. Wrong petitions Tyler to possess him & pays dearly. Tyler's minions blow up the world & those remaining gather in the chateau's basement, waiting Tyler's final instructions & to be buried in salt.
As I finished this penultimate issue, I was happy to see that Palahniuk is willing to let his world be just as flawed as Sebastian's & that our author doesn't try to make out that he's some proto-Tyler. In a more interesting moment, Palahniuk & his writer's group sit around discussing their anxieties & their pills while Sebastian frantically tries to find a way out of Tyler's endgame. Another nice moment is Sebastian's & Marla's prolonged kiss when they are reunited. But, in short, a whole mess of destruction is going down & who knows what the next issue will bring. I'm sure those glowing letters from readers will take on an ironic twist....more
Jenny Rowan lives an unassuming life in the DC Metro area. She works as an editor at the local news station, helps the homeless in her neighborhood wiJenny Rowan lives an unassuming life in the DC Metro area. She works as an editor at the local news station, helps the homeless in her neighborhood with the occasional box of food, & keeps a low profile as a means of surviving in a chaotic, panic-driven world. Her quiet routine changes once a detective enters her life, asking her to help counsel a girl found in traumatizing circumstances--circumstances not unlike ones Jenny experienced long ago. Sallis's novella follows Jenny as she weaves together lives of the people she encounters before moving on to an unknown future.
I've only read 3 of Sallis's books so far, not including this one, & while they all have different stories & characters, certain themes echo loudly across his fiction works due to his restrained style. Jenny could easily be a variant of the mysterious female blogger from The Killer Is Dying, someone who has a coherent & redemptive outlook on the world created from fragments of positive encounters or hopeful moments. (Almost the antithesis of something like Cheever's "The Enormous Radio.") In a way, Others is sort of Sallis talking about a philosophy or perspective necessary for writing or creativity. In short, this book came to me at the right time, especially since I had some a little Sallis previously. I could easily see myself reading this & thinking Jenny was too pure or one-dimensional for the world around her.
I enjoyed this small book & am curious why Sallis picked the DC area. Maybe it's because I've read too much Pelecanos, but the city does not seem very distinct in the story, other than allowing Jenny a plot-convenient proximity to some powerful people. The idea that there are small, yet important lives taking place amid the hubbub of the Beltway is interesting & does share a concern with writers like Pelecanos or Lippman. Or perhaps Sallis is paying homage to a kind of East Coast noir influence that would compliment his usual West Coast interest. In any case, Others is a compact, curious book but perhaps not for those who are just beginning to explore Sallis's work....more
4 years after the events of Parable of the Sower, Lauren Olamina is nurturing her fledgling Earthseed community, called Acorn. She tries to figure out4 years after the events of Parable of the Sower, Lauren Olamina is nurturing her fledgling Earthseed community, called Acorn. She tries to figure out what the next steps of her philosophy are & celebrates the ups & downs of life with her people--events that include the birth of her daughter with her husband Bankole. But, the community is ultimately destroyed by evangelical Christians encouraged to hurt & enslave anyone with different beliefs than them & the current United States president. Separated from her child, Lauren & the remnants of Acorn endure the horrors of the labor camp & eventually escape & regroup.
The tension left over from Sower shifts from all-inclusive problems like food shortage, climate change, and persistent conflict to the growing pains of an American society that has decided that only certain people get by while all others can either fall in line or suffer the consequences. Despite some of the drop-off of the action, the timeliness of Butler's portrayal is still very canny in 2016 & will satisfy those of us readers who were left hanging at the end of the first book. But there is still a lot of story left to be told & we will have to be satisfied with the conflicting voices of Lauren as she tries to rebuild her community & her daughter who reunites with her mother too late to fully understand her purpose. Butler herself calls this book 'a novel of solutions' (not all properly planned out) & this may guide readers into a more forgiving perspective toward even the most despicable characters....more
Lauren Olamina has grown up in a walled neighborhood in Robledo, CA her entire life. As the daughter of the neighborhood preacher & as an empath hLauren Olamina has grown up in a walled neighborhood in Robledo, CA her entire life. As the daughter of the neighborhood preacher & as an empath herself, Lauren struggles between living compassionately & trying to be prepared for any catastrophe that might break through the walls of her neighborhood. The United States are crumbling & the old laws & social conventions are no longer a proper safeguard. Lauren's journal is her sanctuary as she tries to make the right choices & articulate her blossoming philosophy--an ambitious set of beliefs she calls Earthseed.
3.5 instead of 4 mainly because of the anti-climactic ending. All of Butler's thematic concerns are here: a burgeoning new belief that strives to marry science to the metaphysical, a driven protagonist with an odd-yet-seductive ability, an environment meant to test & refine her character's knowledge & remake her. Sower is not just a familiar retread of Butler's previous tropes, but is also something that still conveys the essence of problems we're currently facing in 2016. The extreme social division, the struggle to survive against the flux of global changes, even the theatrical yet meaningless rhetoric of the political leadersin the book are just a measure or two away from our current society. Which makes the development of Earthseed in the story a refreshing & inspiring change. The idea that moving forward scientifically or in other ways that would advance human capabilities is not a way to "escape" our problems but a way of pushing the human race forward into a maturity above our petty conflicts. I can now see this book's influence on The Galaxy Game.
Lauren is a fascinating character & its very easy to be swept up in her ideas. The last few chapters of the book, however, seems to set up much that doesn't come to immediate fruition. Lauren begins to gather a community around her & they arrive at a stopping place, prepared to create a place for themselves. And then the book just ends. I couldn't totally believe it when I reached the last page--trials, separations, the beginning of Earthseed's germination & then. . . ? What happens? Can't wait for Parable of the Talents!...more
Here we are, readers, at the end of this awesome series & guess what. Happy endings for everyone! Kasahara succeeds in getting the author Toma toHere we are, readers, at the end of this awesome series & guess what. Happy endings for everyone! Kasahara succeeds in getting the author Toma to the British Embassy to defect through a crafty plan that involves birthday cards in code & the author himself dressing up in drag. The Library Forces turn out in droves to support their lone agent & the world's attention is drawn to Japan's censorship conflict. Kasahara & Dojo admit their feelings to one another, the federal government begins talks with the prefectures to end the war of attrition, & everyone gets paired off with their ideal partner. (And Satoshi has too much to keep him busy & stops being any more creepy than he already is. Whew!)
There's something old-fashioned to this happy ending where everyone ends up with who they like, but overall this last volume of the main story satisfies on both the action front & the romantic side. Kasahara's plan seems desperate & once again returns to the theme of her loneliness before her squad turns out in force to support her. (Genda is pleased by her daring, of course, crazy man-bear-barbarian that he is.) And then, after her heroics, our heroine visits "her prince" in the hospital & they kiss & kiss & kiss & kiss before settling down to have a quiet, egalitarian marriage. Awwwww. . .
I honestly don't know if there's another manga quite like this for me. I think this is not just because the romance takes a backseat to the action, but there is something that is so 1990's about it that just really pleases me. (And yes, I realize that this is meant to be a futuristic story but hear me out.) Everything from Kasahara's accessories (her dolphin pendant at the end of this volume looks like thousands of cheap necklaces Clair's used to sell) to her struggle as an action girl surrounded by guys (Ms. Parker, Agent Scully, Samantha Waters--anyone?)--all of it just hits that specific nostalgia point for me without being dated or cheesy. Library Wars just hit me at the right time & I'm sooooo very happy to have read it....more
3.5 instead of 4. Jaime, the hack wizard, rescues Giacomo from the Arcadian enforcers & together they go looking for Coral. Digital Lee learns abo3.5 instead of 4. Jaime, the hack wizard, rescues Giacomo from the Arcadian enforcers & together they go looking for Coral. Digital Lee learns about analog Lee & is used as an experiment by the Arcadians to make contact with him in order to spy on the Meat. Analog Lee becomes the new leader of the server farm & suspects those in charge of Arcadia are up to something. Sam & digital Lee make separate deals with the people in power in order to preserve their family.
The plot thickens & gives us some tasty new details to savor--Paknadel reveals more of his main conflict through a philosophy lesson in Coral's class. Analog Lee is starting to seem like the more interesting of the two Lees. He broods, argues with himself & racks his brain trying to figure out how he survived the last plague & his family didn't. (Also, the guy is ready to throw down with wolves in a blizzard. How can you not resist him?) Digital Lee just seems bland beside him even as he gives his handlers in this issue plenty of attitude. Hopefully that will change as our story continues.
I'm sort of torn over how the anomalies in the Arcadian code work. On one hand, we have rogue code that permanently destroys things, but on the other hand, we have Giacomo who has "innate root access" but doesn't have the same amount of destructive power from what readers can see. How far does this rabbit hole mystery go? Guess there's really only one way to find out. . ....more