bonafide genius and expert paradigm-breaker Alan Moore apparently decided to slum it and created a fairly mainstream narrative with Crossed + One Hundbonafide genius and expert paradigm-breaker Alan Moore apparently decided to slum it and created a fairly mainstream narrative with Crossed + One Hundred. this is an excitingly cinematic tale that is more concerned with telling a riveting story and building a dense and complicated post-apocalyptic world than it is in exploring challenging themes or creating unique characters. the only immediately recognizable Moore flourish is its meta use of classic science fiction novels to frame and comment upon 5 of its 6 chapters. the results still amazed me. there is so much to enjoy, to live in and to engage with: a gleeful retooling of language reminiscent of Riddley Walker; a new society that illustrates the full range of Moore's progressive-feminist-anarchistic perspective on how an ideal (but still realistic) society would function; an increasingly sinister and hair-raising mystery to be solved; familiar characters who are instantly recognizable types yet still feel fresh and alive - especially a nonchalantly strong, independent, and always sympathetic female lead. this story completely captured my attention with its fascinating narrative, careful attention to detail, refreshingly casual (and incredibly explicit) approach to sex, and wonderfully lush art by Gabriel Andrade that made me really feel what it was like to live in this world. and at times it was genuinely terrifying: so, so much potential for horror lurking on the edges of the story kept me on edge in the best sort of way.
because the comic is set in the often repulsively exploitative Crossed world, unfortunately that potential for horror does rear its head - to an intense degree, more and more as the narrative plunges scarily forward. brilliant mainstream science fiction that could be a part of the Mad Max world slowly and inevitably turning into a post-apocalyptic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. so many scenes of atrocity! sweet Jesus, it was too much. Moore (and Andrade) certainly doesn't condescend to the gorehound Crossed audience - he caters to them. it's not his own creation (we can thank Garth Ennis for that) and although Moore resets the premise, he stays absolutely true to what Crossed is all about. namely, that all paths lead shitward and everything will end up far, far worse than you ever even thought it could be.
this was a superb entry in the series and I think it will also be the last one of the series that I'll read. no more, no more!...more
more low-key and downbeat "adventures" of the former eco-warrior ship Kapital and its diverse crew as they traverse a flooded and disaster-torn semi-pmore low-key and downbeat "adventures" of the former eco-warrior ship Kapital and its diverse crew as they traverse a flooded and disaster-torn semi-post-apocalyptic world in pursuit of their gigantic sister ship reasonably named The Massive. featuring mainly pleasing art in brown & blue earth & water tones that still manages to be forgettable. much like the stories they illustrate. intelligent, measured, predictable, and ultimately dull.
this series reminded me a lot of certain adventure shows that start out with fantastic flair and snazzy camerawork, a deeply developed world, intriguing mysteries, absorbing characters, the works... and then by episode 4 they've remembered they are a tv series and so de-emphasize the overarching narrative in favor of uninteresting self-contained stories. that's just not my thing in general. I usually give up on those shows around then, just as I'm now giving up on this still admirable and worthy series....more
a) "la petite mort" de la super-héros, évidemment! pour les super-héros, c'est UNE GRAND MORT! partout!!!
b) an annual rQuestion: What is a "Herogasm"?
a) "la petite mort" de la super-héros, évidemment! pour les super-héros, c'est UNE GRAND MORT! partout!!!
b) an annual retreat for the dastardly "super-heroes" of Ennis' pitch-black series The Boys; a place where these villainous jerks get their fuck on.
c) the title of a somewhat amusing miniseries in which Ennis trots out more mildly entertaining riffs on his various themes: Corporations Are Evil, Government Is Corrupt, and Anyone Who Wants To Be A Hero Is Probably An Asshole; a comic where the super-bastard A-Train is an actual POV character; a story that has one of our heroes suffer a rape and in which the after-effects of said rape carry some surprisingly non-jaded emotional ramifications and will no doubt come into play as this story continues - perhaps because the raped hero in question is a dude? *
d) volume 5 of an ongoing deconstruction of super-hero tropes because who believes in such childish things anyway? (view spoiler)[me :( (hide spoiler)]
e) a colorful excuse to show a whole lot of degradin' fuckin' and revoltin' drug takin' and tits & ass & peen oh my. look closely and one might be able to see the faded stains of Ennis & McCrea slobber on the page. perhaps other fluids as well?
* as differentiated by the abusive may-as-well-be rapes suffered by so many women across this series - assaults that are certainly decried by the author but essentially mean nothing to the narrative. and that was gross to realize.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
thoroughly amiable and engaging urban fantasy involving a vampire detective with the appearance of a teenage girl, juggling a case involving golems anthoroughly amiable and engaging urban fantasy involving a vampire detective with the appearance of a teenage girl, juggling a case involving golems and a slain student and potential romances with a charming sasquatch and an equally charming teenage seminary student. I quite liked this one, in particular:
- golems! surely one of the most underrated of the ancient monsters, the golem has long been overdue for a comeback. the golems in this novel are often endearing, at times sinister, and always completely fascinating.
- Jewishness! this is one of the most Jewish novels I've read in a while, and I loved that. it is not a culture that often finds itself front and center in many fantasy novels. especially interesting (and moving) were the brief moments that World War II and the Holocaust were referenced. I sort of wish I could travel back in time to give this book to my high school friends but I wonder if they would have even liked it; they were busy redefining themselves as Reformed and this book is all about being Orthodox. of course, now that they are all in their mid-40s, they have pretty much taken the Conservative path. except for the gay one.
but anyway, back to what I liked:
- the mythology! that was excellent. the idea of various ancient monsters finally stepping out of the shadows and coming together as some sort of Monster Justice League to fight off the evils from beyond, and then sticking around as some sort of Monster World Council was fascinating and fun. and it is merely the backdrop. if I stick around for this series, it will be entirely due to the mythology.
but if I liked it - the mythology and the book - why the if I stick around for the series?
well, I've realized that Urban Fantasy is not one of my favorite genres. sad to say, but true. I guess I just don't find the humor in many of these books too appealing. it's not just this book, it's nearly all of the books I've read that are marketed as UF: snarky, cheeky jokes and banter that is very light - modern in a tv sort of way - are par for the course, and that's not my particular cup of humor. (American Gods comes to mind as one of the ones without that special UF brand of humor.) it's not something I hold against the genre, or this book of course, but some things are not for everyone. and I'll admit that I did occasionally crack a smile.
humor aside, my only caveat is that workplace romance in this novel is not just accepted, it is openly encouraged. I guess that's why this is a fantasy!
I was surprised to realize that this book is self-published. some publishing house is certainly losing money by not publishing it. the writing is smooth, smart, and completely professional, the subject matter is a popular one, and there is a lot of potential for growth if looking at this as the start of a series. I'd definitely recommend it to UF fans; for them, I'd assume this is a 4 star book....more
I wonder if I would give Plato's Allegory of the Cave 3 stars if I read it now. I remember being profoundly impacted byreview of the title story only
I wonder if I would give Plato's Allegory of the Cave 3 stars if I read it now. I remember being profoundly impacted by that one when reading it in junior high. maybe it's an age thing? these days I read mainly for enjoyment not edification, and ratings are funny when it comes to that. 3 stars is a fine rating by me: it means I liked it well enough and may even recommend it. but I'd never consider re-reading it. maybe if I had read this one but was a different person... say, if I wasn't the choir to whom this book preaches about mindless hypocrisy and the foolish cupidity of governmental systems or, to go deeper, if I was haunted by not finding a purpose in life... perhaps the novella's themes would have more impact? this is the third classic of existential dread and the shallowness of life (or certain lives) that I've read in the past year; the other two were Camus' "The Fall" and Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground". I really enjoyed the former because of its stylistic flair and subtle empathy; I despised the latter because of its repellent thesis that mankind is basically an insect colony. "Ward No. 6" questions the substance of lives frozen by inaction and that complacently pay more attention to form over meaning, despite knowing better. there was neither prose that sung nor a message that stung, although there was a cunningly characterized protagonist and a plot that read like a trap being slowly, inevitably sprung. I admired the design of the piece but could only shrug at the message. it must suck to have a meaningless life full of hypocrisy and to wind up stuck in a mental hospital as a living symbol of all such hypocrites who complacently let things happen to them and everyone around them, for sure.
this big fat pillow, you just sunk your head right into it, mark! you slept there for days!
i don't know if it's the kind of pillow that everyone wouldthis big fat pillow, you just sunk your head right into it, mark! you slept there for days!
i don't know if it's the kind of pillow that everyone would love. but who cares about everyone. you loved it and you know you'll rest your head on it again.
it's a big fluffy pillow, one of those pillows with two sides that look and feel like they came from two separate pillows. on one side is an intricate pattern, an arabesque. you got lost in its design: India of the Company days, on the edge of that era ending. so many details! the heat, the human throng, the tide of history only barely felt by some and an inexorable force for others, the perfectly captured interiors and exteriors, the politics, the characters both insular & British and unknowable & Indian; the touch and the scent and the taste and all of the sights and sounds. the lavish description put you right there - you were living in that world. you loved the perspective on that world: one that didn't necessarily take sides, but still clearly recognized the culpability of colonials in all of the blood, death, and horror that awaited them. that side of the pillow was gorgeous in design but not exactly comforting to lay your head on. a rough texture, and yet one quite appropriate for the time period. such designs should not necessarily provide comfort. so not exactly a comfy place but a beautifully crafted, perfectly balanced, and completely fascinating one nonetheless. a pattern to die for!
a hard pillow to recommend: those who love one side may be automatically opposed to the other.
and so the other side: a design more romantic in nature. more careful in its scope, its patterns less byzantine, its colors more muted, the feelings it evoked more basic, even predictable. I loved that side just as much. a romance of the old school and yet many of the little details felt so timeless, both modern and classic, and so in keeping with the sorts of patterns that I personally (and politically) respond to. a strong, independent heroine - and yet still prey to the outmoded systems of her era. a heroine I could admire while still hoping she could move beyond herself; a far cry from a character based on wish fulfillment fantasies that would have made no sense in her era. and a strong, independent hero - yet still fallible, still recognizably human despite his admirable qualities. not the sort of laughable modern alpha male who wants to conquer a woman, body and soul; rather, a hero who yearns for a woman who is equally independent, equally capable of critical thought. can a man - for example, this reviewer - say he identified completely with the heroine and fell head-over-heels for the hero? yes, he certainly can!
but back to the pillow, this wonderful pillow that i rested upon for what felt like days on end... i'm not in a hurry to let others enjoy it. it would bother me to see a person enjoy one side over the other. to judge one of those sides because they prefer historical sagas over romance, or vice versa. it's a special pillow and i'd have to be confident that you could see the beauty of both of its sides before i let you get near it; otherwise, i'd be happy to keep this pillow all to myself. after all, it's the only pillow Valerie Fitzgerald ever made....more
I was waffling between 3 & 4 stars on this one, but since the second book in this series was a marked improvement for me on the first book, 4 starI was waffling between 3 & 4 stars on this one, but since the second book in this series was a marked improvement for me on the first book, 4 stars it is.
our intrepid heroine Phèdre - courtesan supreme with a very special talent for transmuting pain into pleasure - makes her debut redux as a titled Lady and so re-enters various schemes and plots at a very different level. and with that elimination of class issues (as well as the death of her charming pimp patron in the first book) came the erasure of a lot of what annoyed me previously. which is odd because I love reading books about class warfare. maybe I am just a softie though, because I'd prefer to read about such things from the perspective of a fully empowered and independent woman capable of making her own decisions rather than reading about it from the perspective of a woman used as a pawn and sex puppet-cum-spy. the word "cum" in that last sentence was used in the formal, non-pornographic sense so keep your minds out of the gutter, pervs. and it's not like there's much class warfare in either book anyway - the appeal of these books rest in the heavy-breathing erotic atmosphere combined with all sorts of courtly intrigue.
which is kept front and center. what a relief! no gallivanting off to versions of Germania and Brittania to have eye-rolling adventures involving barbarians and swordplay and torture. Carey does a fabulous job in making these intrigues as compelling as any battle. her versions of France and Italy are wonderful creations and I was salivating over the combination of ambiguous character motivations, political machinations full of sneaky feints and double-edged words, assassination plots, and a search for a thoroughly enchanting villainess, all delivered amidst delightfully lush descriptions of the various locales through which Phèdre and her retinue travel. it was all quite delicious - a tasty meal.
magic was kept at a minimum. it was handled poorly in the first book; its appearance here (during a sojourn in a version of Crete) was a bit painful but thankfully brief.
love story was front and center. still rather annoying but this time I did sort of feel for poor Joscelin. must be hard to have a girlfriend who still rents herself out, despite being a Lady of the Court.
the mythology of this world, featuring Elua (Jesus' sorta son) and his fallen angel companions, was as absorbing as ever.
it was nice to see a sadistic top actually portrayed as a good guy. well, not a bad guy, at least. the first book's bdsm trappings ended up feeling a bit hypocritical when all of its s&m tops were clearly villainous assholes. that's not the case here. Severio (ha! that name!) may be a spoiled, grouchy fratboy of a prince, but he's not evil and is actually pretty supportive once he realizes his tastes don't automatically make him a monster. he just needed to find a partner like Lady Phèdre to make him feel okay with himself. aww! and all that said, I was thankful that the bdsm scenes that dominated the first novel were minimized in this book. I guess I'm just not a big fan of that sort of stuff (anymore).
I also finally began to understand why, sexually, our heroine is a very special person. in the first book, I found the assertion that no one like her had been born in hundreds of years to be a bit hard to swallow - getting some degree of pleasure from some forms of pain is not exactly a super-rare attribute. thousands of fetish sites can surely attest to that. however this book provided a couple eye-opening examples: Phèdre going into orgasmic convulsions when being angrily shaken by Joscelin and, more amusingly, after getting pricked by a seamstress' needle while being fitted for one of her typically gorgeous gowns. okay Phèdre, I get it, you are definitely a very special person. don't let anyone tell you otherwise!...more
this probably would have been better read in one fell swoop rather than 3 different sittings in 3 different moods. my first dive into it left me intrithis probably would have been better read in one fell swoop rather than 3 different sittings in 3 different moods. my first dive into it left me intrigued but also a bit nonplussed. surely this story of inheritance and a mysterious orphan and a missing father would involve more than a half dozen characters? would it be all about them and, if so, how much intrigue could there be when there are basically only two or three suspects? it seemed like a lot of table setting for such a slim plot. but Eberhart's ambiguous yet sympathetic portrait of the child in question kept my interest. my second dive was my longest time in, on a gray and chilly day. perfect atmosphere for this book. there was something so diverting about our earnest young heroine and her sweet but odd ward, about the cozy apartment she carefully maintained yet was the scene of so much weird menace and potential danger, about the cloudy and overcast weather that the two moved through, followed by persons unknown. the third dive was just now, before bed. the paucity of characters really stood out because Eberhart has them repeat the same things over and again, to such a tiresome degree. it felt like someone was trying to turn a story into a novel. and when our passive heroine finally finds some agency and decides to do something proactive, and yet everything she does only puts her in more danger, leading to a scene of her and the child screaming and clutching at each other in terror as the men rush in to save the day... sigh, 2 frustrated stars....more
a complex, fast-paced, scifi-tinged thriller that often feels like a lighthearted romp despite the heI almost forgot to write this review! ba-dum-bum.
a complex, fast-paced, scifi-tinged thriller that often feels like a lighthearted romp despite the heavy themes and upsetting deaths on display. great artists will continually revisit their pet subjects and themes; Renner - clearly a great writer - does the same in this second novel which deals again with how humans process grief, loss, and trauma. often by.... wait for it... forgetting. but also by rewriting histories, both personal and large-scale. in his ingenious and mind-boggling first novel, the canvas was relatively small and the focus was intimate: Renner was exorcising personal demons and obsessions, and also penning a sad but warm love letter to his home state Ohio. in The Great Forgetting, the canvas is wider: writ large, it encompasses the Holocaust (and, in a way, Holocaust denial), 9/11, and all sorts of conspiracy theories; writ small, it subtly probes how people deal with painful emotions and things gone awry in life. there's so much going on in this novel that I frequently had to cling to those recognizable Renner themes to keep my bearings - at times it felt as if he threw everything he was currently interested in at his writer's wall and kept not just what stuck, but what slid off as well. as a result, the book is often chaotic in an enjoyably berserk way, but just as often felt like it could have used a bit more mapping out before finger met keyboard. several highly intriguing and sympathetic characters are unfortunately lost in the breathlessly paced mix. despite my issues, this is certainly a worthy accomplishment and an enjoyable read. I'm looking forward to reading more by him....more
the weird malcontent known as Lone Sloane travels the galaxy in 6 bizarre adventures full of hallucinatory vistas, mind-boggling transformations, dreathe weird malcontent known as Lone Sloane travels the galaxy in 6 bizarre adventures full of hallucinatory vistas, mind-boggling transformations, dreadful plot twists, and lovecraftian horror. he turns into a god-like thing; he turns back into a man. he is the wrong person to hire or to suborn because whoever crosses his path comes to a very bad end. he's a death-magnet. avoid Lone Sloane at all costs!
I found his journeys to be pretty entertaining. and definitely over the top. Druillet's intense style reminded me a lot of various vividly colorful and psychedelic posters and album covers from the 1960s. unfortunately, that is far from my favorite sort of style. I'm glad I didn't live through that era; what a headache! still, that said, overall this is an impressive and certainly eye-opening enterprise.
I loved the story where Lone Sloane has to battle a villain's champion - a villain that looks like a floating green rag and a champion that looks like multiple circles within circles. imagine having to deal with that. fortunately his sexy computer Rose saves the day - by dividing him in two! the good Lone Sloane and Mr. Negativity. and Mr. Negativity doesn't fight battles - apparently he just blows shit up. as far as that battle goes, done and done.
my favorite image:
that's the Power of the Universe, visiting Lone Sloane in order to give him a secret password that will bend space and time and make LS transcend our reality because reasons....more
super fucking fun adventures with some super fucking powered librarians. it all gets very fucking dark; after all, it features the end of the fuckingsuper fucking fun adventures with some super fucking powered librarians. it all gets very fucking dark; after all, it features the end of the fucking world. (kinda.) what's not to fucking like?
but why all the fucks, mark? this is an all-ages site! come on, man. restrain yourself. for teh children.
okay! this devious, bizarre, pitch-black, evilly sardonic, take-no-prisoners adventure novel is written by Scott Hawkins. it is his first piece of published fiction but it reads like he's been publishing novels for years. I could not pull myself away from this book and I read my eyes out til the crack of dawn. crack cocaine for people like me who have no interest in crack cocaine but still want that exciting high. unlike many, my version of crack includes a novel whose first three-quarters are dense with action but whose last quarter is basically a series of melancholy and contemplative conversations between three characters about change, death, ptsd, empathy, and the natural and unnatural cycles of life. plus lots and lots of GOD. gimme!
so here's a fucking story that I've probably already used in another fucking review:
as a lad, I grew up in a household that was just not into the traditional concept of God, or into God at all. my dad was sort of an atheist and my mom was sort of an existentialist (which amounted to basically the same thing, to me at least). like most kids, I rebelled against my parents' rule. I did this by finding God. haha, that really came out of left field for my parents! this included accepting Christ as my personal savior, going to bible study, and a few summers spent at a religious camp. at the end of one such summer, the pastor had a practice of gathering us all together to answer any questions we might have. I had a classic one: "If God truly loves us, why does He allow bad things to happen to us?"
his reply was equally classic: "Imagine a quilt. If you turn it over, all you can see are a mess of colors that make no sense and go nowhere. But the top side is God's side. And there you can see a beautiful pattern. That's God's plan. We don't see its beauty, but it is there, guiding us."
I loved that answer! It made perfect sense to me. I came home excited to challenge my heretical dad and his outlandish lack of faith. I told him my big question and then I smugly recounted the pastor's golden answer.
an approximation of my infernal father's reply: "Well, genius, if God is so good, then why does he only show the shit side to us? Why doesn't he show us that other side and why does he hoard it all to himself? What kind of fucking God does that?"
So I think it's safe to say that Hawkins shares my dad's perspective on God....more