Friday, May 22, 2015

Microreview [book/movie combo]: The Man Who Fell to Earth

How to adapt a sci-fi novel? Add rock stars. And sex. So much sex.


Walter Tevis' brief 1963 novel is a heartbreaking examination of self-doubt. In it, an alien calling himself Thomas Jerome Newton lands his spaceship in a remote field in Kentucky with a mission and a sheaf of papers containing specifications for scientific breakthroughs unheard of on this planet. The scientific ideas he turns into patents, which he turns into an extremely profitable company called World Enterprises, which he uses to fund his mission. Pretty smart.

Seemingly the one person out there in the general public who catches on that all this technology coming out of this new company may be alien in nature is a heavy-drinking, burnt-out college chemistry professor named Nathan Bryce. Even the lawyer Farnsworth who helped Newton set up World Enterprises and runs the day-to-day operations doesn't have the same inklings Bryce develops regarding the reclusive Newton. So Bryce seeks Newton out and manages to talk his way into a job at World Enterprises. This new success leads Bryce to put the bottle down, and re-commit himself to chemistry.

But Newton finds himself in very different mental, emotional, and spiritual circumstances. After an unfortunate run-in with Earth's gravity leaves him convalescing, Newton befriends his de facto nursemaid, Betty Jo, who happens to be a Scotch-addled souse. His home planet of Anthea (the native name for either Mars or Venus) is a wasteland after global wars reduced the population to only a few hundred survivors, and it is Newton's responsibility to develop a space-going ferry to bring them to Earth. The stress upon him is tremendous, as is his profound loneliness, so the introduction of wine and Scotch whiskey come as a welcome diversion and sedative, but his increasing dependence on them threaten the success of his mission.

Walter Tevis himself was descending into alcoholism as he wrote the book. Although, as he discussed in interviews years later, he seems to have not realized it at the time. It's stunning, then, how the writerly part of his brain fundamentally understood and could successfully transpose onto the narrative ideas and experiences Tevis' conscious mind was keeping at arms' length. As much as this book is about alcoholism — and it is — it seems more fundamentally about failure. In the book, alcohol is the medicine that failures self-prescribe to forget their disappointment at having not become what they felt they might have if...whatever happened to them hadn't. 

Despite a relatively slight page count, this is an engrossing book unafraid of very big questions. Beyond failure, beyond alcohol, friendship and loneliness, it also seems resigned to the fact that we'll one day blow ourselves up and wipe ourselves out. There's some thematic overlap with Nevil Shute's On the Beach, and I found myself having a similar reaction to The Man Who Fell to Earth.


Nicolas Roeg's 1976 film adaptation of The Man Who Fell to Earth has a troubled history, with the film's American distributor chopping some 20+ minutes out of the movie for its initial release because he apparently didn't understand it. But Criterion has released the full version in a characteristically wonderful edition with a bunch of wonderful special features.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is one of the most interesting book-to-film adaptations I've come across because it is actually quite a faithful adaptation, but very quiet about it. Roeg doesn't spend a lot of time explaining what's going on, but communicates the story with true visual mastery. It is a true testament to how much the oft-quoted mantra "show, don't tell" can really accomplish. It's also easy to see, however, how someone might find themselves utterly baffled by what's going on in this movie. 

One thing that is going on, without a doubt, is gettin'-it-on. The source material is almost entirely asexual. Newton is essentially sexless, Bryce is too old to be interested in sex, and Betty Jo is presented as dumpy and matronly. Boy, not the movie, though. David Bowie has rock star magnetism to burn, Betty Jo becomes the lithe and oft-naked Mary-Lou, who introduces Newton to a helluva lot more than just alcohol, and the aged Bryce is reimagined by Rip Torn as a student-shagging professor who only seeks out World Enterprises after it becomes clear his exploits will likely cost him his spot at the university.

But like Tevis' Cuban Missle Crisis-adjacent book, Roeg's film is one for its time. The sexual revolution had happened and TV had proliferated, so Roeg's version of T.J. Newton simply has more options at hand when it comes to losing himself. 

In the end, both versions stand alone as engrossing works taken on their own terms. 

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 7/10

Bonuses: +1 for the way each telling uniquely captures its time; +1 for the character of T.J. Newton, and the ways in which his trial of pretending to be something he isn't remains moving in both tellings 

Penalties: -1 for the total lack of outside scrutiny World Enterprises receives until very late in the proceedings

Nerd/Cult Film Coefficient: 8/10. Well worth your time and attentions.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thursday Morning Superhero

I think I am in the denial phase right now.  I don't want to confront the fact that a lot of books that I care about either just ended (Ghosted) or are racing to its conclusion faster than I wound prefer (Mind MGMT, Sixth Gun, Fables).  As I reflect on these series and Locke and Key, possibly my favorite series of all time, I wonder how much value is there having a defined beginning, middle, and end to a series.  I think having a finite number of books in which to tell a story forces the creators to be more mindful with their decisions and efficient in their storytelling.  While it is going to be hard to say goodbye to some friends this summer, at least we'll always have the memories.  Hopefully some deluxe trades as well.

Pick of the Week:

Ghosted #20 - It is with mixed feelings that Ghosted came to an end this week.  It felt right, made me feel happy for Jackson, and inspired me to revisit this series from its first issue.  It also concluded with a heartfelt letter from creator Joshua Williamson.  It is easy to assume that writers we look up to have an easy life and a dream job.  Who doesn't want to write comics for a living?  Williamson pulled back the curtain on his own life and we learned that Ghosted was a reflection of some demons he was dealing with in his own life.  I don't know if he had this conclusion figured out when he originally pitched the story, but it seems fitting given the direction Williamson appears to be headed in this industry.  Close the door on a story with a rough start, and begin a new journey with endless possibilities.  May Jackson Winters resist the temptation to abuse the power of his new role and may Joshua Williamson continue to write amazing stories for his new and larger audience.  Congratulations on an amazing run with Ghosted.   

The Rest:
Mind MGMT #33 -  Meru has her team assembled and just got the advice of a master strategist trained in the Mind MGMT ways.  The final assault is here and it looks like Meru has a fighting chance.  It was thrilling to read the squad break down different lines of defense, but the highlight was Meru seeing her foster parents one last time.  Curse you Matt Kindt for putting something like this in a book that reads like a summer blockbuster.  Speaking of which, when is the Mind MGMT coming out?  I would watch it.  It is both sad and thrilling to see this epic story work its way to the grand finale.  I am worried Henry won't survive.  I have good feelings about Meru.

Daredevil #15.1 - After discussing two amazing books that are ending soon, we move to a new leaping on point for Daredevil.  Waid shares his storytelling role in this one-shot that includes a few stories from Daredevil's past.  If you have been wanting to hop on the Daredevil bandwagon this would be a nice start.  It provides a good retrospective of the man with no fear.

Star Wars #5 - When I first heard that Boba Fett was going to get his own movie I had mixed feelings.  He is without a doubt one of the most iconic characters in Star Wars, but he is such an unknown.  After reading this issue, assuming the movie can be as good, I am all about a Boba Fett flick.  After being hired by Darth Vader, Fett has tracked Luke to Tatooine and isn't pulling any, and I mean any, punches in finding out the information he needs.  Just when things really pick up we are left to wait until the next issue for the confrontation.  Well done Marvel.  Well done.

Skylanders #9 - The first major arc of this series reached it conclusion in a satisfactory manner.  I am a big fan of redemption, particularly in books my son reads, and the notion that characters make mistakes and can be forgiven for past transgressions.  That was the theme in this issue and I appreciate characters that have depth and serve as good talking points to kids.  Not my favorite all-ages book, but one I highly recommend if your child plays Skylanders.  If you are an adult who enjoys the game (I'm talking to you!) then you will enjoy this series as well.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Microreview [book]: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

An exciting new silkpunk fantasy...

The Grace of Kings (Book 1 of the Dandelion Dynasty) opens in as exciting a manner as imaginable. The young and reckless Kuni Garu--one of the heroes of the tale--goes to an Imperial Procession held to memorialize Emperor Mapidere's unification of the kingdoms of Dara. While there, Kuni witnesses a bold assassination attempt on Emperor Mapidere. A man, riding a battle kite (yes, a battle kite!), suddenly dives at the Throne Pagoda and launches a ball of fire at the emperor. The quick thinking of the Captain of the Guards saves the emperor, and after a few more failed attempts punctuated by brilliant theatrics, the would-be assassin flies off toward the city of Zudi. This assassination attempt leaves an indelible impression on the young Kuni Garu, who would later play a central role in the re-unification of Dara archipelago.

The true story, however, begins years later, with the death of Emperor Mapidere. In the wake of Mapidere's death, palace treachery causes the empire to split up. In this tumultuous period, two young men quickly assume the leadership of a broader rebellion: Mata Zyndu and Kuni Garu. Both men are polar opposites. Mata Zyndu is a man bred to rule. The proud son of a deposed duke, he holds static notions that rulership is best left to the "legitimate" old nobility. And he emerges as a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield, blessed with martial valor by the gods themselves. Standing side-by-side with Mata Zyndu, however, is the rather unlikely character of Kuni Garu. Born with no noble ties, Kuni Garu is a restless commoner ne'er do well, one who has dreams of greatness to be gained through his charm and wit. The relationship between Mata Zyndu and Kuni Garu holds the key to the future of the entire land of Dara. 

The Grace of Kings is Ken Liu's attempt to retell the rise of the Han Dynasty in China in epic fantasy form. Liu takes as his inspiration not only the history of the Han dynasty (as told through the Shiji, or Records of the Grand Historian), but also such classics as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He builds off such major themes from Romance as virtue versus vanity, nobility versus cruelty in unique and interesting ways. But Liu looks far beyond historical China for inspiration. Although Dara is based off Han dynasty China, The Grace of Kings features in equal part influences from Greek and Roman epic poetry and theater traditions. The storytelling often brought to mind Homer's Iliad, and the plays of Aeschylus. The gods in the Dandelion Dynasty serve as members of a Aeschylean Greek Chorus (minus the dancing and singing, of course), and help to highlight the tragic elements in the story and to reinforce the novel's emotional mood. And the gods do not refrain from covertly aiding their champions, whenever possible.   

In many ways, The Grace of Kings delivers in grand form: it is intelligent and engaging from start to finish. Liu writes with a crisp and engrossing prose. He creates a wonderful cast of characters, some of whom are defined by a decidedly mercurial nature. Both Kuni Garu and Mata Zyndu change with the political life of the times, and are impacted not only by their own values and mores, but also by the actions by others. It is this continuing, shifting character development that kept my avid interest throughout the entire volume. 

What Liu does with extraordinary verve is to show the morally debilitating impact of power. The Grace of Kings, after all, is a story about power. Quests for power bring young men like Kuni Garu and Mata Zyndu (and in some cases, women) together in the bonds of friendship. Assumption of power, however, proves divisive, disruptive, and destructive. Once power is gained, erstwhile friends find themselves divided by ideals, by mistrust, and by divergent philosophies of governance. Some of the most interesting sections of the novel deal with reflections on the use of power, as when Kuni Garu reflects on the "tyranny" of Emperor Mapidere.  

Despite the novel's distinct strengths, however, I ended up with mixed feelings. This is why it has taken me so long to upload this review! Granted, it is beautifully written, and Liu has done a wonderful job of marrying the Romance of the Three Kingdoms with the classical  traditions of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid. But the major issue for me was its focus on a much more expansive cast of characters than what felt necessary. Kuni Garu and Mata Zyndu were the only major characters around for the entire tale. Numerous other characters made brief cameos, told their tales, gave their biographies, faced a difficult choice, then faded away from the story only to be replaced by the next cameo role. To give but one example, the Kikomi story provided a wonderful narrative arc on virtue versus vanity, but did it add anything that couldn't have been told in the main story line? I wonder. Granted, including a huge cast of narrative arcs (like Kikomi's) is very much in the tradition of the epic poems and epic tales that Liu used for inspiration. So although this is not a weakness in his writing style, it kept rubbing me the wrong way. The true irony here is that what I love about the concept (the marriage of epic fantasy with historical epics) ended up as a distraction for me. I wanted to like the execution of the story more than I actually did.    

Still, this doesn't take away from Ken Liu's achievements. The Grace of Kings is an intelligent and engaging retelling of the rise of Han dynasty China. And it feels both old and new at the same time. With The Dandelion Dynasty, Liu has crafted a promising new silkpunk fantasy that I would recommend without reservation.

The Math 

Baseline Assessment: 8/10

Bonuses: +1 for the wonderful melding of Greek, Roman, and Chinese literary traditions.

Penalties: -2 for the successive narrative arcs of characters who "arrived," told their stories, and faded away...

Nerd Coefficient: 7/10 "An enjoyable experience, but not without its flaws"

Read about our scoring system here. And remember, we categorically reject grade inflation!

POSTED BY: Jemmy, a SF/F fanatic, a failed wall gazer, and a Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Microreview [book]: All That Outer Space Allows by Ian Sales

An alternate history of science fiction...

All That Outer Space Allows is the fourth and final installment in the Apollo Quartet, Sales' series of speculative novellas--each of which rests, as the name implies, on an alternate history of the U.S. Apollo program. I'm a big fan of the series, and think Adrift of the Sea of Rains and The Eye with which the Universe Beholds Itself in particular embody a science fictional ethic that is increasingly rare in this age of "exhaustion."  I found the third installment, Then Will the Great Ocean Wash Deep Above, a bit uneven in comparison--pairing, as it does, a compelling tale of female test fighter pilots facing institutional barriers to the astronaut program to an entertaining but poorly connected narrative about deep sea exploration. So I was curious to see how (or perhaps more accurately "if") Sales would tie the series together in the penultimate volume.

All That Outer Space Allows tells the story of Virginia "Ginny" Eckhardt, the fictional wife of fictional astronaut Walden Eckhadt, and a moderately well-known science fiction author. The alternate historical conceit is that science fiction is a literary space reserved for women, and a mode of escape for housewives laboring under the sexist mores of American society in the 1960s--thus playing a similar role to romance literature in our world. The narrative begins at Edwards Air Force Base, where Walden is a test pilot trying to gain entrance to the prestigious astronaut program; after he is accepted, the couple move to Houston, where Ginny is inducted into the Astronauts' Wives Club (now subject of a network television series), thus becomes something of a public figure. The new role subjects her to intense social pressure--to be a model housewife and to thereby reflect well on the program and, hopefully, increase Walden's chances of being assigned to one of the upcoming Apollo missions. But the pressure, and Walden's increasing absence, make it increasingly difficult for Ginny to write. So she decides to learn first-hand about the Apollo program, in the hopes that this will provide the creative spark she needs to revive her writing career.

Throughout the traditional third-person narrative, Sales interjects anecdotal commentary--written in such a way as to suggest the editorializing of a historian, but which is in actuality an equally fictional narrative about "V. G. Parker" (i.e. Ginny Eckhardt) navigating the institutional sexism of SF as it actually existed in the 1960s. The main narrative and this "annotational" one come together in the story attributed to Eckhardt/Parker, "The Spaceships Men Don't See," whose "housewife heroines" and mild explorations of sexism in the astronaut program are said to provoke a negative (and realistic) response from the male readership of Galaxy. Sales presents the story within the text, a literary trope dating back to Hamlet, and which serves to literalize Ginny's frustration at how the subservient position ascribed to women shackles her dreams.  

Given this formal and thematic complexity, I think it's fair to say that All That Outer Space Allows is the most ambitious entry in the Apollo Quartet. It is also significant for its commentary on the field of science fiction. As a critic and fan writer, Sales has dedicated himself to recording the "secret" history of female-authored SF, and to bring attention to the many unrecognized, underappreciated and out-of-print female-authored SF novels published over the past century. All That Outer Space Allows is, fundamentally, an attempt to explore this history through fictional device, and it by and large succeeds. Ginny is an strong, well-realized character, and Sales does a great job evoking period and place--reflecting a meticulous level of research. There are, of course, some moments when it's clear that the author is not American--Ginny referring to the family vehicle as "the Impala" rather than "the car," as Americans would when there is only one to choose from, or the narrator referring to Ginny as having "finished her toilet"--a phrase that doesn't make sense in American colloquial English. But these are relatively infrequent; at most points one forgets that Sales is British. 

I've gone back and forth on the breaking of the fourth wall, however. Initially I found it distracting, but at some points it seemed to work beautifully. In the end, though, the cost of shattering perspective is just too high. Formally, I think I would have preferred the commentary to come in the form of footnotes, as one might find in an academic edition of a novel. That would allow the reader to choose between reading the text on its own or shifting to the notes as they come up--an arrangement that would also, I might add, incentivize re-reading. Moreover, at times the "annotational" narrative is too blunt a tool, hammering in messages that are already clear in Ginny's story. At the same time, I do appreciate the experimentation, and found both the "annotational" narrative and story-within-a-story to be worthwhile endeavors. I'm just unconvinced by the mode of presentation. 

Taken together, this marks All That Outer Space Allows as the most difficult volume of the Apollo Quartet to quantify. It is absorbing and undeniably powerful, and takes risks that I wish I encountered more frequently in the genre. But the biggest risk, at least as far as I'm concerned, doesn't quite pan out. Perhaps it's a testament to the things this novella does well that I nevertheless recommend it in the strongest possible terms.

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 8/10.

Bonuses: +1 for general sophistication; +1 for writing "hard" social science fiction.

Penalties: -1 for breaking perspective with in-line annotations when footnotes would have been better; -1 for making an obvious message a little too obvious.

Nerd Coefficient: 8/10. "Well worth your time and attention."

Read about our scoring system here.


POSTED BY: The G--purveyor of nerdliness, genre fanatic and
'nerds of a
feather, flock together' founder/administrator
Reference: Sales, Ian. All That Outer Space Allows [Whippelshield Books, 2015]

Monday, May 18, 2015

Microreview [book]: Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler

Add one part urban fantasy to one part paranormal romance. Stir well. Serve over ice.

I will admit to being drawn to this book because of the alcohol pun on the cover. And make no mistake, the characters in this book certainly know how to drink (really expensive booze), so I was not disappointed. Nor was I disappointed in the premise, that a thousand-year-old human-turned-jinni named Lyla who works as a dancer at the world's coolest burlesque club gets drawn into some dangerous and dramatic intrigue just as the curse that turned her into a jinni is set to expire. Of course, the curse is only lifted if she can manage to stay un-Bound when the curse expires.

On the surface this is a story that seems...problematic at best. Most of the conflict, after all, centers around the fact that Lyla can and does become enslaved by a Magi, a special kind of human who are the paper to the Jinn's rock. However, the book does take a lot of care to take a story-line fraught with consent issues and...actually deal with consent in an open and forthright manner. With a very diverse cast of characters and a story that provides plenty of action and huge stakes, the book managed to succeed in convincing me, at least, that it could deal with sexuality, consent, and attraction in a way that, while not perfect, was still much better than most paranormal romances I've read.

And I suppose I should talk about genre a little bit here. Jinn and Juice is obviously playing with genre in a lot of ways. Just look at the cover. I look at that and I don't know what to think. The color and title make me think paranormal romance. But the image leans a bit more urban fantasy (ASIDE: UF works tend to feature women on the covers while PR works tend to focus more on men but appealing to the female gaze. The general message being that PR books are more about the man as sexual creature and the UF books more about the woman as an active and sexy badass. Obviously this is just my impression, and based solely on my own reading experiences, but it is what I've observed). What's inside is a nice blend of the two (and here I would say that most UF and PR books are blends of similar plot elements and tropes but this book seems more consciously a blend). There is the focus on the relationship between Lyla and the man who effectively enslaves her, Oz, and yet there is no sex. Yes, the book subverts expectations enough to have a book that features a woman who works as a dancer in a burlesque club not having any sex while being completely sex positive. Not to say there is no sexual tension (there is plenty), but the book does more than pay lip service (absolutely no pun intended) to consent (okay, maybe a little pun intended).

And the cast, as said, is quite diverse. Aside from Lyla herself, who is from the Middle East of a thousand years ago, there is an entire cast of great characters who make up the rest of the staff at Purgatory, the burlesque where Lyla works. Not that all of the depictions completely escape feeling a bit cliche, but I think that at the very least a great deal of care was put into the depictions of the characters and I think the author did a good job of making them all complicated, giving them all more than just a surface coat. The world building is also very well done, revealing a world with paranormal forces boiling just below the surface. There is a unique and clever use of setting with Pittsburgh, and while there isn't a great sense of the place beyond a few locations, there is definitely a sense of its mood, its presence. I might not really know what the place looks like, but the book does show how it might feel to have an enormous source of tainted magic coursing through the rivers and streets.

The story, too, has its moments. There is a nice mystery to the whole affair, and though Oz comes across as a bit impossible at times, he at least is not shown to be always right, always the one saving the day. Lyla is still the most active agent, and though she is helped by her friends and by Oz, the book takes care to have her retain her agency. Of course, the villains of the book are a little...obvious and while some attempt was made to give at least one of them a little depth, mostly they are cardboard cutout villains, bad guys who are angry and lashing out and not really willing to listen to reason at all. So that aspect of the book was rather a let down, having Lyla and Oz's complicated relationship pick up the slack.

And in the end I think that the book mostly succeeds at being fun while trying to be more diverse and subversive. Certainly it's better than most of the paranormal romances I've read in how it treats consent and sex and attraction. And the setting and world building are solid and there is a lot to enjoy about the story. At the same time, while it subverts the Master/slave dynamic that make a great many paranormal romances incredibly problematic, I was still uncomfortable at times with the set up. Yes, Oz is a "good" guy. He doesn't use his power for sex or abuse. But the story can still be read that he should be rewarded (with Lyla) for being "good." And there really should be no expectation of reward for that good behavior. So it's not quite as subversive as it could be. Still, it does manage to do a lot right and it was quite fun to read (also, I love all the drinking that goes on). So that's something. 

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 6/10

Bonuses: +1 for managing an artful mix of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, +1 for dealing with consent in an open manner

Negatives: -1 for some rather flat villains

Nerd Coefficient: 7/10 "A mostly enjoyable experience"
(check out our scoring system to see why a 7/10 is quite good indeed)

POSTED BY: Charlesavid reader, reviewer, and sometimes writer of speculative fiction. Contributor to Nerds of a Feather since 2014.

Reference: Peeler, Nicole. Jinn and Juice [Orbit, 2015]

Friday, May 15, 2015

AiIP: Let's Talk

Grab a seat. We need to talk. It's about something I usually avoid talking about, for a variety of reasons. But it's something that should be addressed, so we're going to talk about it.

First, though, story time. This is a third hand story, so take it with appropriate grains of salt and/or the spice of your choice.

Back before 3024AD came out, I was talking to a co-worker at that time, telling him about my goals. He related the story of a relative who wrote a book, and was offered a book deal with a solid five-figure advance- on the condition that the protagonist was male- not female, as she had written. She refused, and her book remains unpublished.

For a lot of people, for a five-figure advance, they would change their main character to a cucumber. Hell, if you've sent off fifty or sixty queries, you might do it for a whole lot less than that.

There is a lot to be said about the cons of self-publishing- I've covered a ton here, and on ye olde Deanfortythree(e) blog- editing issues, cover art, overall stories- but there are some definite pros, and this is one of them.

Hear Cap's immortal line "I'm always picking up after myself!"
Because- for whatever reason- there is a fantastic lack of diversity in publishing. The optimist in me (he's in there, I promise) wants to think this is unintentional, just coincidence, but... come on. People will talk about how we should read more diverse authors (correctly), but walk into a bookstore and grab one hundred random books. How many are written by non-straight-white-men? Twenty? Maybe forty if you grabbed a bunch from the romance section? The problem lies higher up than the reader, or the bookstore. It lies with publishers who select what gets published, what gets marketed and how much. The ones who decide that, no, that protagonist just won't sell.

But if you're publishing your own work (or working with a smaller press), you don't answer to those people. You answer to yourself, and to your readers. You can write what-who-ever the hell you want.

Because, here's the thing: I'm a straight(ish) white dude. I'm kind of (totally) in the majority here. But I can't change that, and I'm not going to stop writing, either, so what can I do? The same thing anyone can- write something. Write something diverse, something other than the same thing that's been written for a looooong ass time.

I'm probably not perfect at this, but I doubt there's a perfect formula at all. Stories and books will lose a lot if all you worry about if the literary equivalent of affirmative action. But stories will gain much more if authors take a few moments and make their characters more diverse. It will make for richer backgrounds, deeper characters and better books.

And no one will tell you to change it.


Dean is the author of the 3024AD series of science fiction stories. You can read his other ramblings and musings on a variety of topics (mostly writing) on his blog. When not holed up in his office
tweeting obnoxiously writing, he can be found watching or playing sports, or in his natural habitat of a bookstore.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thursday Morning Superhero

This past week I got The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past graphic novel in the mail that I forgot I preorderd.  It is a beautiful collection of a 1992 manga that I am looking forward to reading soon.  When I begin to question the influence I have on my two kids, Henry and Zelda, I need look no further.  Henry is in first grade and has to read 30 minutes independently each week.  I can't help but wonder how she is going to react that Henry read an old Zelda comic this week.  He is really enjoying it and I just hope it is appropriate for an 8 year old to read.  I guess I will find out when he finally lets me have a turn.

Pick of the Week:
The Auteur: Sister Bambi #1 - The Auteur is back and I had no idea how much I missed the insanity Rick Spears pours into each issue.  Following the destruction of President's Day, Nathan T. Rex is desperate to find some funding for his next masterpiece.  Not concerned about where the money comes from, Rex finds himself in the compound of Nazi triplets who want to force Rex to create a Women in Prison Nazi Propaganda film.  Spears crams this follow-up series full of the usual low brow humor, over the top gore, and pure insanity that fans of the first series are sure to enjoy.  Definitely one of the most unique and entertaining comics I have read for some time.  Welcome back old friend.

The Rest:
Darth Vader #5 - Oh what a tease.  It seemed as if we were going to witness Vader in all of his glory with each turn of the page, but we will have to wait until the next issue.  Vader is out to kill anyone he suspects of being his successor.  He quickly learns that Luke isn't the only one who doubts the value of the Force and thinks its nothing more than a hokey old religion.  Apparently the Emperor has enlisted the help of an android who feels progress is the future and the Force is the past.  Very much looking forward to the battle royale that will open the next issue and still enjoying Marvel's handling of Star Wars.

Saga #28 - This issue stressed me out.  As a father it was very stressful to see Hazel taken away and Alana incapable of doing anything.  Why do you do that to us Brian K. Vaughan?   Nothing seems to be going well for anyone I care about in this series.  Marko and his crew are under attack, The Will is dying, and Hazel?!?!  On the positive note, I learned that The Stalk has a brother who is more concerned about raising his family than getting involved with this nonsense.

Secret Wars #2 - I decided to give Marvel's latest Universe changing event one more try and wish I had my $4.99 back.  I will say they packed in enough content to warrant the hefty price, but it just isn't my scene.   The reveal at the end was pretty cool, but it felt like a ploy to launch a new series called Battleworld.  That's right, the duking it out to see what Earth survives is taking place on Battleworld.

Birthright #7 - Very interesting issue of Birthright from Joshua Williamson.  It didn't take itself very serious and some humor was injected along the way as we grapple with the relationship with Mikey (who is possessed) and his brother Brennan.  Things were quite disjointed and surprisingly light until Williamson drops the hammer on the last panel and reminds us that this is a serious tale indeed.   This issue almost felt like a magic trick and at the end we learn that things aren't as easy as they seem.  Good series that warrants starting at the beginning.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.