Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Blazing World

by Jess Nevins

Hey, I have the second volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, so I had to go and read Jess Nevins' companion volume, right? I mean, LOEG II has even more obscure references than it's predecessor, so it's almost a necessity. Like Mr. Nevins' first book, this one has all the notes you'd need to explain the lush detail of LOEG. It also features interviews with LOEG creators Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.

Again, it's good for the waiting room.
LibraryThing link

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Batman in the Fifties

by Bill Finger and many others

Of all the old books I'd like to add to my collection, one of the most desired would be Batman From the 30s to the 70s, a book I checked out time and time again from the library when I was a kid. Cheapskate that I am, I don't have much hope of actually obtaining that tome, but I was delighted to find at least some of the reprints I remember in Batman in the Fifties. Best of all, it was only a buck at the Seattle Friends of the Library sale. The stories reprinted are grouped into four sections: Classic Tales (I would title it "Gimmick Tales" myself), The Batman Family, The Villains, and Tales from Beyond. Each represents a different thread that made up the tapestry of the era's Batman tales.

It's on my shelf!
LibraryThing link

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Heroes and Monsters

by Jess Nevins

This is a read once kind of book--"The Unofficial Companion to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." If you've read LOEG, you know that is is packed full of characters from and references to other works of fiction. Mr. Nevins has gone through and made notes about them all. Since I'm not quite as well read as him, I loved paging through the book and finding out about the references I didn't catch. But now that I'm done, well, I doubt if I'll read it again. I mean, occasionally you get a reference book that's entertaining to read despite the information it contains--like The Joys of Yiddish or Phil Farrand's Nitpicker guides--but Heroes and Monsters ain't one of them. Sorry, Jess.

It's wunnerful waiting room material!
LibraryThing link

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Friday, May 15, 2009

A Grief Observed

by C.S. Lewis

A Grief Observed is the journal C. S. Lewis kept after losing his wife, Joy, to cancer. In it he pours out his feelings, as his faith is battered by the storms of grief. I felt a bit awkward reading it, kind of like I was standing around, gawking at a car accident. On one hand, you want to see what's happening, but on the other you don't want to intrude on another's misfortune and sorrow. Of course, reading a published book is hardly an intrusion on anyone. The book was an interesting way to consider my own beliefs without having to personally suffer the loss of my wife.

Check it out.
LibraryThing link

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

King Solomon's Mines

by H. Rider Haggard

This is the first of the Alan Quartermain novels, that adventure series from the late 1800s. As a ground breaking adventure novel, I suppose I should have liked it better. The problem is, I've read so many "lost world" tales in my day that King Solomon's Mines seemed a bit cliched. I do have to admit, though, that despite the racism and other 19th Century attitudes, the story has weathered pretty well. The novel is nowhere near as thick as some of its contemporaries that I've read.

Very pleasant waiting room material.
LibraryThing link


Monday, May 04, 2009

The Snow Goose

by Paul Gallico

I'm not sure what to call this--a 20th century fable? It's a short tale of Philip Rhayader, a kind and artistic soul with a deformed body. In his twenties, he moves to the English seacoast to live in seclusion, away from the repulsive looks and attitudes of "normal" people. He spends his time painting, sailing his boat and caring for the birds that take up residence in his property. He finds peace in this lifestyle, but one day a young girl from the nearby village brings a injured snow goose to him. As she helps him care for the bird, a tenuous relationship develops. It's a short, quiet, emotional tale in which love and fear, beauty and ugliness mix together to give a brief peek into reality.

Check it out, it's short.
LibraryThing link


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Cities in Flight

by James Blish

This sucker is actually four novels collected into a single volume. The collection starts with They Shall Have Stars. The year is 2013 and humanity is out among the solar system while, back on Earth, a quiet struggle is going on between the West and the Soviets. It's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the two, however, as the Western governments seek to impose more and more control on their populace. Amidst this all is a scheme of Alaskan senator Bliss Wagoner, which is playing out in a lab on Earth and a gigantic construction project in the atmosphere of Jupiter. They Shall Have Stars was entertaining enough. The 1957 story seemed dated in many ways, but in others it seemed eerily prescient.

A Life for the Stars is the second tale in the collection, set centuries after the first. Humanity has discovered the gravitronpolarity generator, or "spindizzy" and over the years, first factories, then entire cities have used this gravity cancelling device to leave Earth and propel themselves through interstellar space. Chris deFord gets press ganged onto the departing city of Scranton and begins a new life among the stars.

Story #3, Earthman Come Home, is the first (and best) of the tales to have been written. It's the saga of the city of New York, an "okie" city travelling the stars and looking for work. Mayor John Amalfi and City Manager Mark Hazelton guide the city through a series of adventures culminating in a... well, that would be telling, wouldn't it?

The Triumph of Time closes out the volume. Mayor Amalfi comes out of retirement to face a final challenge, one that will have significance for the entire universe. It was the least satisfying of the four stories. Overall, the book is good, classic science fiction. The concept of space faring cities is intriguing, though it failed to truly grab hold of my imagination. But it was enough to carry me through dozens of lunch breaks, so I can't really complain.

It's good waiting room material, if you have a looooong wait.
LibraryThing link


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