This one was... just okay? A bit of a let down, honestly. Not sure why; the premise was fine, and Morris does a good job at presenting these characterThis one was... just okay? A bit of a let down, honestly. Not sure why; the premise was fine, and Morris does a good job at presenting these characters as real, flawed people. I guess a big part of it is a trope I've hated since I was a little kid, where people from our normal world encounter the clearly supernatural/otherwise unusual, encounter it in a way where the rules at work should be clear and/or other people are explicitly telling them how things work, and far past the point where it makes sense in any way except for The Plot Needs It, they act like they have no idea what's going on or what they should do. I'm mixed about the ending, too; I kind of like how it's ambiguous or bittersweet, except to the extent that it feels like there was never a clear picture of what's going on here (but not in a way that satisfies)....more
This one, my favourite of the Antrim I've read so far, is probably close to 3.5, but not so much so I'm going to bump it up. For the first time some oThis one, my favourite of the Antrim I've read so far, is probably close to 3.5, but not so much so I'm going to bump it up. For the first time some of Antrim's tics, the predictably unlikable male narrators and staid satires of/homages to a certain kind of masculinity (I'm not sure which he intends, but it comes off as both), the ridiculous female characters, the half-baked resolution, actually work for him; this is his only narrator that seems to actually change in even minuscule ways over the course of the book. Of course, not all protagonists have to do that, but Antrim hasn't been great at pulling that structure off in the past. The surreal premise actually plays out quite nicely in practice; making it a possible psychotic in the narrative as well as to the reader helps some, I think....more
This is probably the nadir of Antrim's unlikable characters; the brothers certainly seem human, but the idea of being trapped in a room with basicallyThis is probably the nadir of Antrim's unlikable characters; the brothers certainly seem human, but the idea of being trapped in a room with basically any of them for five minutes is nigh unbearable. Unsurprisingly, Franzen's awful introduction wants to pretend that all of masculinity can be found within; hell, not even all of toxic masculinity can. I almost bumped it up to three because of the weird power of the Corn King stuff, and if the book had leaned more in that direction I'd probably like it more. By the time I had finished this one I suspected I just didn't like Antrim; this book feels like some weird unsuccessful crossbreed between Auster and Pynchon. Thankfully things got better....more
I read all four of these Antrims for a review elsewhere, which I'm still working on. I finished them a while back, but I'm still working things out. II read all four of these Antrims for a review elsewhere, which I'm still working on. I finished them a while back, but I'm still working things out. I can confidently say that the introductions by Franzen and Eugenides are worse than the books they introduce, and while Saunders' isn't great either it's at least better. All three make wild, absurd, instantly falsifiable (by anyone who doesn't love every little thing Antrim does) claims, which does the books a disservice. This is probably the worst of the novels; what worldbuilding is here is fine, but there ought to have been more of it (sometimes slightness and suggestion work.... sometimes not), the narrator's unreliability is thuddingly predictable although kudos to Antrim for introducing feelings of queasiness early on, I guess. It feels like a book that desperately wants to make A Point, but kind of lacks one....more
As with all science books, my opinion ought to be taken with the caveat that I am essentially a credulous audience for this stuff in that I am VERY muAs with all science books, my opinion ought to be taken with the caveat that I am essentially a credulous audience for this stuff in that I am VERY much a layperson; in this case the book is a decade and a half old, so not only is it necessarily out of date but I am totally open to hearing that it's inaccurate or misleading.
That being said, though, this was a fascinating read, especially near the end. I was aware of some of the broad strokes of the history (that the West didn't invent and wouldn't tolerate zero for quite some time, for example) and the math (why dividing by both zero and infinity are Bad Ideas, at least in high school math) but as someone who finds the theory of math fascinating even though I'm kind of shit at the practice of it past a basic level Seife does a really great job of actually explaining both the full ramifications of the history and the reason why the math works the way it does (I actually could have stood a little bit more wonkiness on the latter part, although confining a lot of the real heavy lifting to appendices was a good idea, and also there were other bits I wanted an even more basic explanation for; this kind of thing is ferociously impossible to calibrate for every single reader though, so I get it). And the book itself is both trim and swift-moving in a compelling way. When it really gets interesting is in really digging into the ways modern math has tried (and usually) failed to deal with both zero and infinity, the latter of which is basically a co-star here (and the links between them are fascinating). So I came for the history, which was good, but stayed for the account towards the end of how much we essentially don't know (or didn't know, circa 2000!) about reality and the universe. It is, and I mean this sincerely, always good to have some reminders on that account. I'd love to see an updated version of this, though....more
If you'd me, say, 50 pages into the first book of this series that it would be a low key recent favourite of mine by the time it finished, I would havIf you'd me, say, 50 pages into the first book of this series that it would be a low key recent favourite of mine by the time it finished, I would have been a little surprised, but Knight has such excellent characterization throughout that even if her plotting wasn't so good and twisty I'd still be really into it. After taking things kind of big in the second book, I think it's both a bold and really strong move on Knight's part to not try and raise the stakes again. Reyes has just survived a magical war that could have easily broken the city in two, all of the major antagonists from earlier in the series have been permanently dealt with (and there are no fake outs, no lame resurrections here) and fittingly for a series that first hooked me with how realistic the psychology of the leads (and their problems) was, our "heroes" are not ready for anything world-shattering. So instead, because of some good intentions, Kacha and Vocho and their friends get launched into a remote location where the story gets pared down to just the most important remaining characters and some new innocent (and not-so-innocent) bystanders, and a realistically harrowing environment that might wind up killing them all before blades, guns, or magic does. This is a really great little series and I think the reasons its great are reinforced by this third book's decision to go in a more personal direction, which doesn't mean it's even one iota less bruising for the viewpoint characters than that massive war in the second book was. So basically, this is just as good as the last one was, but all of my worries from my review of that one are handled, and in ways I didn't necessarily expect....more
So I read a bit of Valiant comics back during the original run (I think I had an X-O Manowar TPB, funnily enough the new series of that is one of theSo I read a bit of Valiant comics back during the original run (I think I had an X-O Manowar TPB, funnily enough the new series of that is one of the new Valiant series I couldn't get into, possibly because I read those first six issues so often as a kid), but I didn't realize for a while the company was back. Interestingly enough some of the best books I think they're doing now are the ones that seemed like the dumbest/most dated concepts back at the time (Bloodshot and Ninjak, for example, although in the case of the former I was obviously going to check out anything that featured the H.A.R.D. Corps because ever since I was a kid anything like that/Suicide Squad/Strikeforce Morituri etc. I've been a sucker for), and then it turns out that the Harbinger series is not only interesting but leads into a direction I always thought would be an interesting to take Harada in. Basically the series was solid but I'm a little more intrigued by the new Imperium series. Consider the overall grade a rating for the Valiant comics I've checked out so far, including a bunch of the big crossovers; full marks to these guys for making those pretty modular, so regular stories aren't really disrupted but there's still a sense of a larger story being told....more
So I tried not to just flood my reading list for the year with comics (I find reading comics really easy and quick, and my challenge to myself wasn'tSo I tried not to just flood my reading list for the year with comics (I find reading comics really easy and quick, and my challenge to myself wasn't to read x number of things Goodreads counts as books, it was to read more full-text books than I have been; no disrespect to comics at all, I just didn't need any help there), but the fact of the matter is that for a few weeks there I spend basically all of my spare time reading comics so if I don't acknowledge at least some of that I'm likely to fall behind on my self-set challenge and I don't think the stress of trying to "catch up" is conducive to good reading.
That being said, this was so much more of a delight than I expected. I've long been a fan of North's Dinosaur Comics and it's not at all a surprise that he would be capable of writing a good story, but I would have jumped on The Midas Flesh much quicker if I knew it's essentially one of his explosive deconstructions of the full ramifications of a concept from our history, mythology, or idioms. Nobody is likely to do a better job presenting the full, horrific, ramifications of King Midas's curse (if it worked as literally advertised) and so in its second half here (the review of which stands as my take on the full series whoops should have said that earlier) the story becomes a real thriller about the implications of that and its possible use and misuse. I expected the wonderful humour and characters and great grasp of language; I didn't exactly expect the very real sense of tension and dread I felt reading The Midas Flesh. Really top notch work, and I'm sometimes guilty of undermentioning this (like a lot of people who talk about comic books!) but Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb do a really great job with the artwork, too. ...more
Holy shit this was wonderful. At this point, Al Ewing is right up there with Kieron Gillen as my favourite superhero comic book writer, and between thHoly shit this was wonderful. At this point, Al Ewing is right up there with Kieron Gillen as my favourite superhero comic book writer, and between this and Loki: Agent of Asgard he's maybe the best writer right now at not just threading the story he wants to tell through the crossover convolutions enforced by writing for one of the Big Two but actually using those limitations to make his stories even better; more emotional, more consequential, more exciting (G. Willow Wilson did a pretty good job with this on Ms. Marvel, too). If everyone could write like this, I'd look forward to big company-wide events with a lot less dread.
In terms of this title specifically, the way Ewing handles the evil flip storyline and then the death of the universe storyline is really great. The team he's got is interesting (and generally underused!) enough that it's hard not to wish he had more time to just do "normal" stories with them first, but during this truncated run he does really great work with them, and the Battleworld followup (Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders) is really wonderfully in the spirit of this run. Luke Ross does solid work throughout; it's one of those books where the art while not particularly radical is clear and distinct and personal enough that when one of these characters shows up elsewhere for a second I'm going "wait, that's not what they look like..."
After the reboot it looks like Ewing's Ultimates run is going to have the closest thing to a version of this team (Black Panther, Monica Rambeau, Blue Marvel, Miss America, Captain Marvel, and Galactus), and his New Avengers should be interesting too (Sunspot, Squirrel Girl, Hawkeye, Songbird, Hulking and Wiccan). Sad to see this series go but it was damn good while it lasted....more
I actually think the first book in this series is a little better, but this is a solidly enjoyable follow up and it definitely sets things up nicely fI actually think the first book in this series is a little better, but this is a solidly enjoyable follow up and it definitely sets things up nicely for a third book. Nothing here is bad, it's just that the character stuff with Petra doesn't feel like it expands on anything much and while the biker gang is fascinating ultimately it feels like more could have been done with them. Or, basically; what's here is good, but like 75% of the way through I realized some of the stuff I thought would get expanded on wasn't going to be. Not necessarily a huge problem (I did still enjoy it), but it made this one feel a bit transitional. I do like what happens with the hanged me, though....more