a mystery in space of how did the Captain of the Venusian Expedition die is not the mystery in space the mystery in space is theMYSTERY IN SPACE!
a mystery in space of how did the Captain of the Venusian Expedition die is not the mystery in space the mystery in space is the mystery of the inner space the mystery of the confined madman and hopeful author and failed husband and tragic victim and master of projection and master of binary thinking and yet still somehow the master of accepting all probabilities all potentialities all things and possible murderer and time traveler and a lover both impotent and hyper-potent, the lone survivor, the unhappy astronaut Col. Harry Evans the mystery of the space between a man and a woman, a man and a man, a man and himself the mystery of sex, the banality of it, its constancy in the mind and its transformation of the body, its shaping of things into shapes shameful and quickly hidden away the mystery of a genre called New Wave Science Fiction, barely remembered, a genre that challenged its own genre and a genre that blazed bright and briefly and full of a strange stylized mockingly literary playfulness, a genre that pushes all sorts of buttons and pulls all kinds of levers, my mind moving in all directions, sparking and flashing, a constant smile on my lips at the ingenuity of it all as for the mystery in question, a sad Earthly answer: your wife no longer loves you, why is that why is that, perhaps a trip to Venus will solve this riddle, perhaps you can write a book, perhaps you can recreate reality, perhaps you can run away, perhaps things will be better then but probably not probability says no
One of the theories of the new mystics was that all of space was merely a projection of the inner wastes of man and that space exploration therefore became merely another dull metaphor for internal exploration: up against Mars, Venus, Ceres or the moon the voyager was merely confronting one or another pyramid reared in his own damaged psyche. Under this theory, the rationalization for space exploration became preposterous. One would have been better off accepting from the beginning the internal truth of oneself or, failing that, seeking competent care in an institution where for relaxation cryptograms, hairgrayers, puzzles, and sexual biography would serve the essential purposes while keeping allotted time free for introspection and the consideration of inner space.
CAPTAIN SEXY'S GUIDE TO FINDING YOUR ONE TRUE LOVE
1. Rescue a damsel in distress. Preferably one floating in shark-infested waters with her little brCAPTAIN SEXY'S GUIDE TO FINDING YOUR ONE TRUE LOVE
1. Rescue a damsel in distress. Preferably one floating in shark-infested waters with her little brother and who will disguise her upper crust background by calling herself a governess. You can take your shirt off when coming to her rescue; she'll love that!
2. Take the damsel back to your cabin. Give her some time to get acquainted with her surroundings and then when the inevitable whining starts, promptly rape ravish her. She'll love that!
3. Continue raping ravishing her throughout the next few days. She'll love that!
4. Take her to your island hideaway and install her as an honored guest in your island mansion. Seduce her with your eyes and hints of your manly hairy chest. She won't be able to resist you because all of that raping ravishing will have proven how much you love her. Take her in your arms and declare that love. She'll love that!
5. Respect her decision to send her home to her father's island mansion where she is engaged to some uptight asshole. Eventually find out that she has given birth to your child; visit her at night so you can both declare your mutual love; steal the child in an effort to lure her to your ship; quickly sail away with her and your child on board. She'll love that!
6. Be together forever. She'll love that!
7. At one point tell her that if she hadn't pretended to be a governess and was instead honest about her upper crust background, she probably wouldn't have been raped ravished in the first place. But then lol and say that it probably still would have happened because she's so super hot. She'll love that!
so Bound by the Heart marks two things for me: (1) the first in a series of romance novels I plan to read this year because hey I made a goal and I'm going to stick with it, and (2) the first time I was able to compartmentalize rape in a book, separate it from the rest of the narrative, and so actually enjoy the book. that second item does not exactly fill me with pride. but if I'm going to read a bunch of romance novels, it appears that I'm just going to have to get over it. I still don't quite understand why rape appeared to be featured so much in romance novels from (recently) bygone eras, but I do know that those torrid romances with their intense emotions and and historical settings are just more appealing to me than sweet romances set in the modern days.
Canham makes compartmentalization easy by creating a heroine who is almost entirely two-dimensional and whose actions are often so eye-rolling and ridiculous that she barely exists as an understandable character. this is supposed to be the reader stand-in? I think not! Summer Cambridge is so often insipid and petulant and prone to foolish decisions and eager to say ridiculous things out loud that she felt more like a running joke than a person. she does have her positive moments of quick thinking and loyalty and bravery, so fortunately she's not a total pain to read about. but the sad misogynist truth of the matter is that I was able to quickly forget the fact that she was repeatedly raped in the beginning of the novel because the author appears completely disinterested in giving her anything but the slightest bit of logic or agency. when Summer begins to look at those rapes as the beginning of her love affair with the hottest man she's ever met, all I could do was shrug and say Well, er, okaaaaaay.
so an easy 1 star for this novel, right? wrong! compartmentalization saved the day! yay?
I really liked the rest of this book because it was all about PRIVATEERS ♥ BATTLES AT SEA ♥ CANNONS FIRING ♥ BRAVE CREW MEMBERS ♥ SHIPS SINKING ♥ MILITARY INTRIGUES ♥ MARITIME TACTICS ♥ THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR ♥ BURNING VENGEANCE ♥ SECRET IDENTITIES ♥ SNEAKY FRENCHMEN ♥ DASTARDLY ENGLISHMEN ♥ CUNNING AMERICANS ♥ DARING RESCUES ♥ ACTION ♥ ACTION ♥ ACTION ♥!
Marsha Canham fully immerses the reader in this nautical adventure through her excellent use of historical detail and what felt like an encyclopedic understanding of how ships of a certain time period operate and do battle. this felt like an old-fashioned tale of daring deeds at sea, with an irritating romance shoehorned in. did this book really appeal to the romance readers of 1984? I hate being a gender essentialist, but much of the time it felt like it was written for guys who liked the Aubrey-Maturin series. and Canham is far from a bad writer when it comes to all of the adventure. her prose is quite muscular.
so thanks to the wonders of compartmentalization, I dub thee a 3 star book! I liked it. but then why do I feel ashamed?...more
my stats say I've read 45 books this year. unfortunately my stats lie because I often don't list when I've read a book. I wonder why I've done that anmy stats say I've read 45 books this year. unfortunately my stats lie because I often don't list when I've read a book. I wonder why I've done that and I need to remember not to do that in the future! the actual number was probably upwards of 100 books. 2015 was memorable to me in that I found myself with a lot of relaxing lackadaisical leisure time, and what better way to fill that time than with reading books (and playing with my cat and and buying furniture and napping in the park and cooking delicious meals because who wants to stay thin forever). 2016 promises to be a lot more intense. I'm excited about that but less books will be read. *regretful sigh*
the majority of books I read in 2015 were 3 stars books. but that's nothing new. for me at least, a 3 star book is a good or at least interesting book. a book that I liked. I give 4 stars to books that particularly impressed me with their prose, ideas, and/or emotional resonance. the jealously sought-for 5th star is reserved for books I'd add to my list of Favorite Books. I'm very stingy with that 5th star.
all of my 5 star books except one were from genre novels or at least genre-related:
the exception, an historical novel and political treatise and burning gay "romance": As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann
I did a survey of three of my favorite genre authors: Jack Vance, Robert Silverberg, and Tanith Lee
Vance and Silverberg had one 5 star book apiece: Jack Vance's wonderfully rambling and lusciously written Night Lamp Robert Silverberg's tightly-paced and multi-leveled The Man in the Maze
Silverberg's The World Inside was also pretty compelling. I guess it was too sexed-up for some. there is no such thing as "too sexed-up" for me.
no 5 star books for Tanith Lee this year, but a couple really strong 4 stars: Kill the Dead ... ghost hunters! Sabella ... moody vampires in the far future!
as far as more literary or mainstream novels go, only two hit the 4 star point:
Eleanor Catton's lauded The Luminaries would have been a 5 star book for me, but I found the fates and personalities of its two Asian characters to be personally disagreeable. but then I am personally Asian, so I reserve the right to get pissy about such things. I imagine it will be bumped up to 5 stars upon re-reading it. I'm sure Catton really cares and is closely tracking such things. I know she is dying to join my exclusive 5 Star Club!
Richard Price's Ladies' Man was beautifully real, sweet, toxic, depressing, and life-affirming.
most of my 4 stars were given to genre novels (but then I mainly read genre novels, so no shocker there):
I'm a queer so I like to do my due diligence by reading my fair share of queer novels. the best by far was the 5-star As Meat Loves Salt. but there were a couple that stood out because I was surprised at how obscure they were, at least in terms of number of Goodreads reviews. both were autobiographical and experimental in nature: filmmaker Derek Jarman's Dancing Ledge and fellow San Francisco resident Kevin Killian's Bedrooms Have Windows otherwise, my 2015 reading list did not have much that was memorable as far as queertime goes.
I'm into obscure things and so I also like to do my due diligence by unearthing various obscurities. finding buried treasure should be everyone's pasttime.
especially good: the 4 star Lightfall by Paul Monette
I heard this comic was bonkers and hey it sure was: Void Indigo by Steve Gerber
I kept my nerd credibility intact by reading my fair share of comics. sadly the only 5 star was a re-read: Absolute Top 10 by Alan Moore. I love Kurt Busiek's Astro City series and have been drawing out the experience for years. 2015's entry was the 4 star Astro City, Vol. 5: Local Heroes. been following Garth Ennis for a bit in two of his series, Crossed and The Boys. haven't read anything amazing yet but both series still interest me. I guess I favor crass brutality and fucked-up sexuality. two of my least favorite books in 2015 were by J. Michael Straczynski: Bullet Points and The Twelve. can't believe I once thought he would turn out to be a favorite.
two other notable 1 star books were Young Adult novels: the laughable and vaguely offensive We Were Liars by E. Lockhart the laughable and genuinely offensive No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale both books were controversial but also inexplicably popular with many people outside of Goodreads. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at how low the bar can be set.
and for no extra charge, I will also throw in my new least favorite reviewer: that one youtuber. ugh! he narrowly beat out that one reviewer who gets off on hating everything and that other reviewer who gets off on everything. congrats _____, you were the cringiest of the cringey!
- survey some romance novels - read more Joyce Carol Oates, Colin Macinnes, E.F. Benson, Michael Cisco, Manly Wade Wellman - re-read Paul Scott's Jewel in the Crown novels - survey some Wonder Woman comics - read more books from Centipede Press and Valancourt Books - survey some Philip K. Dick, E.C. Tubb, Marion Zimmer Bradley, K.W. Jeter, Moorcock, Poul Anderson - finish some of these damn series because I'm not going to live forever - read more mystery novels, especially classic ones. or in the classic style - continue reading collections by Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Aickman - spend much of September reading Jack Vance while on vacation because that was awesome in 2015...more
a little bird, a little boy, flitting through the trees; thrust upon him is a mantle of authority. to flit no more! roles taken to provide meaning, sha little bird, a little boy, flitting through the trees; thrust upon him is a mantle of authority. to flit no more! roles taken to provide meaning, shelter, a shield: the world of Green Sky. denizens: beware of what lies below the root: there be dragons! or knowledge. or the past, a history buried. or an underclass, perhaps, striving to meet the sky!
a children's classic, of sorts. first published in 1975. shades of The Giver. a simple tale of friendship and growing up. a complex tale of myths and lies and mysteries upon mysteries. an introduction to revolution, for the little ones.
gossamer prose; steely ideas. oh what a tangled web adults may weave!
I tried describing the book to friends. their reactions were predictable. like so:
in his wonderful Oz series, Baum usually does a good job at keeping his more precious & cutesy-poo tendencies in check. his bracingly no-nonsensein his wonderful Oz series, Baum usually does a good job at keeping his more precious & cutesy-poo tendencies in check. his bracingly no-nonsense little heroines and often delightfully bizarre imagination help to keep things treacle-free. unfortunately no such barriers have been put in place for this story of the early life of Santa Claus; the result is much strained mawkishness and, egads, baby talk. sugar overload! however I did enjoy the entirely pagan origins of Jolly Saint Nick - a foundling taken under the protection of assorted sprites, nymphs, and fairies of an ancient forest. Baum is at his best here when naming and describing all of the varied immortal princes and princesses, and the inhumans they rule over. plus there is a (very brief) Battle Between the Forces of Good and Evil, and that's always fun....more
once upon a time there were old gods, and they ruled a world filled with blood and lust and death and transformation. they saw no use for such thingsonce upon a time there were old gods, and they ruled a world filled with blood and lust and death and transformation. they saw no use for such things as altruism or kindness or propriety or monogamy or the protecting of little children. they followed their own urges and the world followed as well. 'twas such a dirty world back then, in the olden days! a dirty, dirty world. but then the ultimate transformation came, and one such god became God. He changed his fellow godlings as well, into angels and immortal beings who ruled over certain holidays. and all those He didn't change, He slaughtered.
but some of these new gods dream of the past...
this book is fucking unique! I haven't read anything like it. I think I was expecting some bizarro sex romp featuring sexy-weird scenarios that included Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. it has that, sure, but this is far from one of those jokey sex-monster books that karen loves to review. it is so much more. Devereaux mines mythology in order to reconstruct the fables of the present into something darker, dirtier, danker, and richer. The Tooth Fairy is a fearsome and horribly compelling enchantress yearning to gnaw at the bones of children. The Easter Bunny chitters creepily and longingly as he stares at humans from their windows, invisible. Santa Claus feels the haunting call of the lustful old times, long forgotten, and when St. Nick busts a nut, all sorts of magic happens.
first of all, the writing. Devereaux is no hack. the prose is compelling, to say the least. by turns sweetly moving, dryly sardonic, and darkly lustrous... the author's talents shine. like dumping out a trash can and finding everything - the rotting food, the plastic wrappings, the used condoms, all of it - has turned to gold. a treasure trove of trashy riches! I laughed, I was intrigued and fascinated, I was disgusted and appalled, I was moved. a brilliantly written book and I immediately want to read more from the author.
second and most important, the ideas. there's so much in here. whether it is the exploration of mythology, Devereaux's willingness to go all in when looking at ancient archetypes, the surprising focus on the male sexual drive and what that realistically means for monogamy, the empathy he displays for his weird and monstrous creations, the compassion he has when delving into human (and inhuman) psychology, his nakedly honest appraisal of love... my mind was constantly being pushed into places I did not expect when I first picked up this book. reading this during family holiday time was an unusual experience!
obviously this book is not for everyone. but you should check it out if you want something that is full of tenderness and hope, lust and a lot of it, gore and brutality, excessively explicit sex and death scenes, a reconstruction of pagan and Christian mythology, an exploration of adult relationships, and wall-to-wall dark fantasy. it is a fully engorged and very spicy blood sausage and that flavor is certainly not to everyone's taste. but I found it to be delicious.
Austin is a 16-year-old living in Ealing, Iowa. he's in love with his girlfriend Shann; he's in love with his best friend Robbie. author Andrew SmithAustin is a 16-year-old living in Ealing, Iowa. he's in love with his girlfriend Shann; he's in love with his best friend Robbie. author Andrew Smith inhaled a lot of Kurt Vonnegut Jr, or something, before writing this decidedly quirky take on teenage hormones, the cyclical nature of history, how and why we define ourselves, and the joy of creating a whole new world out of what came before. the prose is loose; the tone is light; the narrative is haphazard. because Austin is a realistically depicted American teenage male, the book also includes angst, anxiety, intense friendships, secrets, cigarettes, skateboarding, people stripping down, a whole lot of balls & sperm & pissing, more "uh"s and "um"s than you can count, and the undeniable and frequently stated fact that Austin is incredibly horny about 100% of the time. oh and this book also includes giant praying mantises that burst out of plague victims' bodies and are about to take over the world - but they are a somewhat minor part, all things considered.
much as with actual human beings, many novels' flaws are intrinsically tied to their virtues. it is hard to have one without the other because they are two sides of the same coin. Andrew Smith makes some quirky writing decisions that are very Vonnegut-y, which is great because I love the off-kilter writing style and how the book manages to be simultaneously sunny & sweet and morbid & melancholy. what is not so great is that Smith takes that eccentricity to a place that is less than delightful: namely, in the intentional repetitiveness that started off as amusingly playful but eventually became mind-numbingly tedious.
that said, I still found this to be a thoroughly charming and fun experience. I'm a bi guy who realized in high school that I was attracted to both my girlfriend and a couple of my guy friends, so it was particularly wonderful to read about Austin's indecision regarding Shann and Robbie. (although honestly Austin reads more as straight-but-curious to me.) this is definitely a book for boys, and all that implies, so I can't imagine many women enjoying it without at least some negative reaction to the novel's disinterest in the inner life of its female characters and its protagonist's intense focus on himself and his various sexual fantasies. that stuff should have bothered me too, but hey I was a teenage guy once so it just came across as pretty realistic to me....more
lack of affect can be a compelling thing to witness in a character. from Hitchcock's cool blondes to Bret Easton Ellis' hollow men to Fassbinder's gallack of affect can be a compelling thing to witness in a character. from Hitchcock's cool blondes to Bret Easton Ellis' hollow men to Fassbinder's gallery of life's victims to probably every character that has ever sprung from the mind of Marguerite Duras, lack of affect rarely fails to fascinate. and now that I've done my due diligence in trying to sound as high-brow and intellectual as I possibly can, please meet affect-less Daphne, daughter of Lilith and Lucifer, protagonist of the entrancingly eerie but deeply flawed Young Adult novel The Space Between.
Yovanoff did a sterling job with this character. poor, demonic Daphne! born and raised in Pandemonium, Daphne has dead-white skin, gothic-black hair, and sharp gray dog incisors. her wardrobe comes from across time so when she enters our world, her outfits apparently look stylishly retro. most importantly, her lack of affect manages to be charming, creepy, disturbing, and always utterly fascinating. it makes for some amusing moments, such as when Daphne is in our world, trying to figure things out like party etiquette and what to do when a person is trying to rob you. it also makes for many absorbing and even rather heartbreaking moments, in particular when Daphne "reacts" to the death of a sister or when she blandly notes the lack of love she receives from her mother. her lack of affect also becomes a perfect way to chart her increasing love for extreme loser Truman. The Space Between's romance is one of the few I've read in a novel geared towards teens that did not leave me nauseated. it was genuinely emotional, in a decidedly non-dramatic way. I love that. too bad Truman's such a loser though.
so Daphne must journey to our world in search of her lost brother and in the process becomes closely entwined with Truman and his fate. he's a sad half-breed unaware of his demonic parentage and prone to extreme fits of moping and suicidal ideation, but since Daphne doesn't hold that against him, I won't either. Yovanoff's depiction of Pandemonium is superb, and her description of Daphne experiencing non-demonic reality is also very well-done. Lilith communicating with her daughter through any reflective surface (from mirrors to fenders to bird eyes) was a highly original touch. a demon infant was another highlight. plus the Lord of the Flies himself, the dashing Beelzebub!
The Space Between's villain, the death-angel Azrael, is a surprising failure. perhaps the author just can't relate to angels because all of the care she put in characterizing Daphne and her demonic family is absent in Azrael. he's stridently, monotonously one-note and I resented his every appearance. the climax of the novel felt rushed and was perhaps especially weak because of too much Azrael. that blasted angel also ruins what could have been an interesting trip to Heaven. alas.
despite those flaws, Yovanoff really excels at creating a strange and melancholy atmosphere with intriguing characters and a moving romance. I loved the spare elegance of her prose. the whole book was wonderfully original. perfect for the teen goth in your life!...more
I thought I'd read a chapter or two before going to bed last night. now it's after 7 am; oops I forgot to go to sleep. it was worth it.
so I metI thought I'd read a chapter or two before going to bed last night. now it's after 7 am; oops I forgot to go to sleep. it was worth it.
so I met this kid named Red Rising by Pierce Brown. right off the bat there was a lot about him that I liked. he enjoyed the game of imagining a society stratified into different groupings based on profession and figuring out how that stratified society would look; he chose the color method as the way he'd group people together. I'm a Virgo so I'm all about compartmentalization and I liked his color idea because I've thought of that idea too (but who hasn't, it's a popular idea). he was really into mythology, specifically Greek and Roman mythology, and hey so am I. we really saw eye to eye on what a lame rip-off Roman mythology actually is, and we spent some time mocking how the Romans pretty much just stole and then watered down Greek gods to turn into their own. Roman mythology, what a joke! but despite their weak mythology, we both agreed that Roman society itself is fascinating because seeing how autocratic societies rationalize their toxic existence is always compelling. he also clearly loved the Hunger Games and Battle Royale and all of those books and movies about kids being forced to face off against each other because they lived in a world controlled by fucked up adults. so as far as our interests go, we had a lot in common.
I had my doubts about him, at least at first. the way he talked about people made me wonder if maybe his outlook was a little simplistic. but the more he talked, the more my doubts crumbled away. sure, he was a little one-note in how he saw the world and the people in it, but what I thought was a shallow perspective was actually a bit more nuanced - mainly because not only did he recognize the potential for change (at least in some), the understanding that ideals and goals must change or at least adjust in the face of reality was central to his entire world view. what I thought was static was actually dynamic, in its own way.
he had a thing or two to say about love and sex: they are central to life and so they should always be included in any kind of story - but it's boring to him when those things are entirely what the story is about. I definitely agreed with that. then he started talking about conflict and battle and he began getting worked up in a way that made me a little uncomfortable. but eventually I saw his point: namely, that stories about war - especially stories written for teenagers like himself - often leave out the sheer ugliness of it all, the rapes and brutality and senseless violence and the meaninglessness, all of that. he wanted to combine those ugly things with the idea that violent conflict is often created for the most base of reasons - because specific individuals and the people they represent simply want more money, more power, better jobs, increased status - and they don't care how they get it or who dies in the process. these ideas are nothing new but I have to say that it was exciting hearing them spelled out in such a passionate way, from someone who felt so strongly about them that he wanted everyone to hear these ideas as if they hadn't heard them before. I've lived a whole life and so I guess that can make me rather cynical, but I'm not embarrassed to admit that the pure enthusiasm he displayed really won me over.
I asked him about how he was going to accomplish his goals. he smiled and said "Look at this face, who can resist it?" then he pulled up his t-shirt and smacked his abs. "And you don't get this kind of a six-pack from steroids, you get it from killing yourself at the gym. I'm there every day man! That's how you accomplish goals - burn off the fat and build up what's useful. Muscle!" I wasn't sure if that was really answering my question but I laughed anyway because that kind of attitude is naive and cocky and amusing all at the same time. It's a fun attitude. I like that kind of energy, especially when it's combined with some thoughtfulness and some anger, and a driving need to show everyone what he thought about the world. I was a bit worried that a person like him would eventually burn out and turn predictable, that his rhetoric would become strident rather than exciting. but for now I'll put those worries aside. I'm on his team....more
sweet and goofy and perfect for my friend's kid. she'll love it! well I hope she loves it. the Lumberjanes are really supportive to each other and I csweet and goofy and perfect for my friend's kid. she'll love it! well I hope she loves it. the Lumberjanes are really supportive to each other and I can't remember the last time I've seen that in an adult comic. some great messages in here but nothing moralistic or obnoxious. the art is colorful and super fun. yay, Lumberjanes! ...more