An interesting read that does a good job introducing Danny Rand, but also would leave a lot of new readers confused. People who have problems with theAn interesting read that does a good job introducing Danny Rand, but also would leave a lot of new readers confused. People who have problems with the Immortal Iron Fist being a white guy will find more aggravation here....more
This is less a book you read once and more a book you refer back to from time to time if you elect to explore the concepts therein. For anyone interesThis is less a book you read once and more a book you refer back to from time to time if you elect to explore the concepts therein. For anyone interested in spending time on these archetypes, I also recommend the excellent series of essays at The Art of Manliness.
We've let the phrase, "Be a Man," become toxic in modern society - so much so that we even have a term for it - "toxic masculinity." So much time and energy is spent on decrying toxic masculinity that a modern reader might be forgiven for getting the impression that all masculinity is toxic, and I feel certain that a vocal minority exists who believes exactly that. Robert Moore and Doug Gillette provide an insightful rebuttal that points to ways in which men doing the things many, if not most, cultures expect of men, can be a vital part of society without the need to dominate it or the need to be emasculated.
Some of the material is redundant, which can lead to a little confusion as to what sort of energy each archetype manages, but as a place to start rethinking (unless you have a need to think about it for the first time) what your own definition of manhood is, I highly recommend it....more
I like Charles Stross's work on The Laundry Files and Halting State proved just as entertaining, even as it kept the Lovecraftian horrors restrained tI like Charles Stross's work on The Laundry Files and Halting State proved just as entertaining, even as it kept the Lovecraftian horrors restrained to virtual environments. If you're in the market for a near-future thriller that mixes gaming, the gaming industry, technology, surveillance, and politics in a great big mess, and takes place in Scotland (where all great stories should happen), you should be reading this post-haste....more
An excellent edition of a complicated game, but wrapped in a book that is barely accessible to people who have been.playing for years. Shadowrun is aAn excellent edition of a complicated game, but wrapped in a book that is barely accessible to people who have been.playing for years. Shadowrun is a great game with a lot going on: cyberpunk, fantasy, political conspiracy, and the occasional flat-out weird thing. The book is outstanding as a reference manual, but using it to introduce someone to the game would be like trying to teach history with a copy of Burke's Peerage....more
I have been looking for a good book about the rural poor. I picked up “White Trash” on the recommendation of a friend and I found it to be a heavily-rI have been looking for a good book about the rural poor. I picked up “White Trash” on the recommendation of a friend and I found it to be a heavily-researched, but fatally-flawed book that sold itself as one thing and turned out to be a number of things, none of those being what it was selling itself as.
One of the things that became apparent less than halfway through the book is that, despite the title of “White Trash,” White Trash actually appear very little in the text. We hear about the opinions of others on White Trash - how Ben Franklin didn’t care about them (well, except for that hospital he built), how Thomas Jefferson saw them, and how most of the Founding Fathers had an unsurprisingly English attitude about the lower class. I can tell you how they were bamboozled by some politicians and cared for by others, how they were photographed by earnest journalists and satirized by hollywood. The rural poor in Isenberg’s world have zero agency - they are a people to whom things are done. When noting the depiction of crackers and rednecks as “shiftless,” she doesn’t even acknowledge the great illogic of the characterization as it applied in the 18th and 19th centuries: if the rural poor, who had little to no support network outside of each other at the time, were so shiftless as they were portrayed, they would have gone extinct.
But it is not just Isenberg’s sources that twist upon themselves. Ben Franklin, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Alex Haley, and a myriad of other sources are vilified on one page only to be held up as more heroic exemplars on another. Southern roots are part of the White Trash experience (for Reconstruction) and then they are not (The Beans of Egypt, Maine), and then they are again (Tammy Faye Bakker is a fraud being from Wisconsin).
Her analysis of the history of eugenics in America is interesting, but she oddly identified the anti-abortion movement as its primary descendant. Her investigation into the careers of LBJ, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton is also fertile ground, but political thinkers, who do seem to dominate the text, don’t rate much more than a page or two if they did not occupy the White House. The omission of George Wallace from this history is an unpardonable error.
It’s an odd book indeed that describes itself as an untold history with 120+ pages of references. Her writing style is lively, but becomes less academic historian and far more socialist partisan blogger the further we move from the American Revolution, which occupies the first 104 pages of the 320 pages of text. Her careless style of argumentation leaves the reader wondering when she is describing a societal viewpoint on something and when she is stating her own opinion. Her depiction of NASCAR is scathing to the point of intolerance, but I don’t know if it was her point of view or not, because her own statements are mish-mashed with the views of others with precious little attribution in the text. She cannot help using the very tools of class she decries to reinforce her later points. When critiquing Thomas Sowell’s book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, she only refers to the author as “economist and Hoover Institute Fellow.” I suppose it might have undermined her argument to say that an African-American from North Carolina didn’t really understand the plight of Blacks in America. I shall never count myself a fan of Sarah Palin, but Isenberg’s downright vitriolic attack on the former Governor of Alaska left me more than a little uncomfortable.
Isenberg references the work of Howard Odum and, based on her description, I shall likely seek that out as research that spends more time with its subject matter. Also, I'm willing to bet that further source-mining in her notes would probably produce some more on-target texts. Mostly, this book reminds me of why I gave up being a history major - the overwhelming emphasis on both primary sources and primary sources of “good character” produce works like this: a book about the rural poor in which they rarely, if ever, actually appear....more
I'm not sure I'm giving this book four stars as much as I'm giving a three-star book a fourth star for being so close to what I wanted.
Let’s start witI'm not sure I'm giving this book four stars as much as I'm giving a three-star book a fourth star for being so close to what I wanted.
Let’s start with disclosure: I was a mark from the book before I even opened the cover. My favorite comic book character in history, without thinking or debate, is Doctor Doom. I love plenty of heroes, but heroes, when I was growing up, were reactive people. They responded to the mad schemes of the villains, which made the villains the ones who had ideas and I was always having ideas. When Austin Grossman starts his story by introducing us to his mad genius, Doctor Impossible, I was immediately infatuated. One of my favorite lines of the book comes right out on page 5 - “whether the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life.” That line is so pregnant with possibility without sacrificing the narcissism of the supervillain.
Unlike some other reviews I’ve read, I also really liked Fatale the hero-side POV character, but I felt like we didn’t get as much of Fatale as we did of Dr. Impossible. Part of that is that she is trying to figure out who she is and what she is, even grappling with the very cyberpunk concept of how much machine goes into a human before they’re no longer a human. But the struggle always seemed tacked-on, like it was there to give her things to think about when she wasn’t pushing the plot forward.
Because that becomes my problem with the book - it promises a lot in Impossible’s questions to himself and Fatale’s wondering about who or what she is, and it delivers on...well, not a lot. Grossman delivers some great scenes and we get a lot of what’s going on in Dr. Impossible’s head, but after about the halfway point, you can see a little bit behind the curtain: Grossman said in an interview that a lot of Impossible’s ranting was him venting during grad school, and so Impossible vents but the only part of him that seems to be going anywhere is his scheme. After that amazing line about questioning what he’s doing with his life, he only ever really pursues that line of questioning superficially, much like Fatale and her nature. Before we know it, the possibility of a big and powerful story that makes use of the superhero tropes becomes...a well-crafted superhero prose story of middling and predictable plot. It’s easy enough to read and his sentences flow well, but the drama is sucked out by trope after trope in the sense that Grossman hesitated to pursue the possibilities of those early chapters, electing instead to just write a perfectly plausible Justice League vs. Dr. Doom story (I know, crossing my publishers) with the serial numbers filed off.
So the enjoyable crafting and some of the neat ideas get me to three stars, pulled to four by my soft spot for the mad genius, but I admit I found the book frustrating in that it seemed to lack faith in itself. It was good and it could have been amazing....more
I'll put up with a lot for a good idea, and this book put that to the test with some hard pulls on credibility, some sophomoric misogyny, and a few scI'll put up with a lot for a good idea, and this book put that to the test with some hard pulls on credibility, some sophomoric misogyny, and a few screeds against liberalism that could have been cribbed from talk radio.
But it's got some really neat ideas.
So if you can put up with some impolitic nonsense, this is an interesting story about how one might just save and, in effect, conquer a world under threat. Lots of interesting sciency bits to boot....more