really it should say "Meathouse Man by Raya Golden (adapted from a short story by George R.R. Martin)" because this is all Raya Golden all the time. areally it should say "Meathouse Man by Raya Golden (adapted from a short story by George R.R. Martin)" because this is all Raya Golden all the time. adapted by, art by, cover design by Raya Golden. who is this Raya Golden? I dunno, and I'm not sure I care to learn more.
some striking panels, particularly in a gladiator battle featuring a morning star. but mainly the art is vivid but technically clunky. terrible job on the faces: the protagonist looks completely different panel-by-panel. the cover made me cringe and not in a good way. wait, is there ever a good way to cringe? the adaptation itself is also often clunky and broad and overly self-conscious in its attempt to reach for meaning. there's a self-indulgent quality to the entire story, although I suppose that is GRRM's fault: lonely, soul-deadened man spends his depressing existence trying to find love but always failing; finally, after achieving some professional success, he realizes that the zombie sexbots that he's visited throughout his life are his preferred romantic option after all. ta-da! and done. what with the almost unbearably nihilistic atmosphere of zombie slaves being common labor (of all sorts) in the far, far future, it's just too easy having that bleak setting paired with mr. depressing teen angst turned loser adult. it's like wearing a black shirt and tie under a black suit. enough already! I imagine a blithe Candide-type traversing this dark landscape, and suddenly the story sounds a lot more interesting. ah well.
still, despite the overall lameness, one more star awarded simply because GRRM's imagination is such a fascinatingly dank and fertile place. plus that morning star was pretty cool. now I'm going to go look at my own former morning star that I broke as a child, swinging it into a wall. I took the snapped chain off and just attached the spiked head to the club. now it's a mace, yay? childhood was all about making lemonade outta lemons, sigh....more
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 thMYSTERY 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.
a study of faith and the faithful, and why the faithful adhere to their faith. Moore's analytical tools are precisely calibrated so that neither sidea study of faith and the faithful, and why the faithful adhere to their faith. Moore's analytical tools are precisely calibrated so that neither side of the argument, if it can even be called that, is given unfair weight. on the one side we have the true believers: people who connect to the ceremony and mysticism, people whose attention span must be kept by shrouding worship in awe and mystery, people who think as a people rather than as individuals. clever Moore has that side led by a man who secretly has no faith. on the other side we have the modernizers: people who are engaged by the charitable acts and community building rather than the ceremony, people who see faith as a vehicle to improve lives and repel injustice, people who feel transparency is key to spreading the doctrine. Moore has that side led by a young company man with a rather agnostic but still revolutionary heart. neither side "wins" - modernity appears to hold the upper hand, but as any fool knows, the familiar and the awe-inspiring will both always hold magnetic appeal for the masses. the specific faith under scrutiny is Catholicism, although any faith could be substituted within his argument. but clearly Catholicism is key to Brian Moore, and so Catholics is the name of the story. having had faith rule my life for only a small but intense amount of time (although I cheerfully admit to being a God-lover), it all felt like fantasy to me. thus my surprise upon realizing that the story is actually science fictional in nature, in the classic sense: take a current issue and speculate upon its potential for change by moving the topic to the near future.
perhaps all of the above makes this likable and often surprising novella sound dry. it is not! Moore is a warm, humorous writer with a good eye for detail and a strong ability to create a certain kind of atmosphere. his characterization skills are enviable. a compelling tale from start to finish.
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