Categories
Books

I’m calling it— Bea Wolf is my favorite book of the year (so far)

Here’s the blurb they provide about Bea Wolf:

A modern middle-grade graphic novel retelling of Beowulf, featuring a gang of troublemaking kids who must defend their tree house from a fun-hating adult who can instantly turn children into grown-ups.

If you follow the above link, you can also get to the publisher page, where you can preview the first few pages.

I don’t think I’ve ever read the original Beowolf, so couldn’t tell you how true to the original story it is, but it stands on its own as an amazing romp where kids literally rule and the worst thing that can happen is turning into an adult. Highly recommend.

Categories
Books

I swear, not every post this year will be about 1984

I finished Julia: A Retelling of George Orwell’s 1984 a couple days ago, and would highly recommend it. The world in Julia feels larger and more lived-in than in Orwell’s original book, and it gets deeper into some themes that he glosses over, especially as they relate to women. The plot also keeps moving, since Julia doesn’t stop dead in its tracks to present the reader with an extended political tract. And finally, it ends on what I’ll call a bleakly hopeful note, one that fits neatly with Orwell’s other works. So — doubleplus good.

Also, while Julia can stand on its own, I think it benefits from having a familiarity with the original 1984. I read them back-to-back, and would recommend that to others as well.

Back in the real world, this past week was the 40th anniversary of the Macintosh, so of course the famous advertisement got trotted out again. For something a little more fun, see this page showing all the different Mac models that have been released over the years, along with other advertisements and hardware.

I didn’t become a Mac user until the mid-90s, but did get a chance to play with one in…maybe 1984? I don’t remember for sure, but it was definitely an early model. My parents were visiting some friends, and brought me along. One of their kids had recently bought a Mac, and he was kind enough to let me play with it. So I spent the evening farting around with MacPaint…and somehow managed to erase a file he had of the Ghostbusters logo. Sorry, Eric. 😰

…and back in the here & now, WorldCon & the Hugos are going through another mess, this time largely thanks to it being hosted in China. For a rundown and links to more, see Charlie Stross’s post on the topic. While not directly 1984-related, what’s going on there is very much in line with the themes of that book.

Categories
Books

Time for the 2023 reading recap, and yes I do know how to count, but there were extenuating circumstances, okay?

Grand totals: 32 comics (mostly TPBs, but some individual issues as well) and 31 (whoops, one book got in there twice) 30 (oh, let’s count this last one in 2023) 31 books. That’s a lighter tally than last year, probably because the comic count is lower, though I haven’t gone back to verify that. Some notes from the year, in no particular order, and leaving out a bunch of titles…

Oh, and links are to bookshop.org wherever possible. Support your local bookseller, & all that. Amazon is…a problem.

Books

Three Star Wars books in the pile, Inquisitor: Rise of the Red Blade, From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi, and Crimson Climb. I continue to dig the “Certain Point of View” collections, and hope they continue those with the prequel trilogy and episodes VII & VIII. There is no Episode IX. I enjoyed the other two novels, but both suffered from unnecessary, annoying epilogues. I blame the Star Wars Machine for those, not the authors.

Another set of three books, unrelated except for being explicitly written during, and possibly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020s more broadly: A Sleight of Shadows, The World We Make, and Wayward (my favorite of this set). These are also all the second (and last?) books in the series. NK Jemison in particular noted that she intended for the series to be a trilogy, but *waves hands at everything* forced her to cut it short (yes, it shows). Our loss. If it wasn’t clear, creating any kind of art in the last few years has been doing it on hard mode.

Non-fiction — two very personal stories in Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter and Mo’ Meta Blues. One addition to our “White People Are the Literal Worst” collection with Black AF History, with The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap filed nearby. One look at Russian society as of a few years ago, with Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. And finally, a pair of “we are doomed” works, though both offer some slim rays of hope: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, and Chokepoint Capitalism.

One that doesn’t really fit in the standard fiction/non-fiction binary: FATE Core System, because even though we rarely play TTRPGs, I enjoy reading the rulesets. This is where I point at myself and say, “Nerd.”

A handful of other books worth mentioning:

Comics

More than half the comics I read came from Kickstarter projects. These are a mix of single issues, TPBs, and sometimes collections of issues that could be a TPB, but for whatever reason that’s not how they came into the house. I’m torn about whether to list individual titles here, because on the one hand I believe in supporting indie creators, but on the other… (leans in to whisper) a lot of these are not actually that good. The art is nearly always well done, but the writing…meh. Impossible Jones continues to get a thumbs-up, though.

On the flip side, there are a handful of books in this year’s pile that hardly need my endorsement — Ms. Marvel, Doctor Aphra, Monstress, Saga (write/draw these faster please), G. Willow Wilson’s Poison Ivy run, etc. Just punch any of those into your friendly neighborhood search engine.

A few titles that I will highlight:

On to the new year!

Categories
Books Film

In which I write a longish list of things I’ve read or watched recently, only to make a tiny point

Except for the last one, there’s no particular order to these. The movies/TV shows are all since mid-June, the books & comics go back at least into May, maybe as far as April:

Taking those in order we have protagonists who are: trans/gay (more so in the movie than the comic), female, female, female, female, female, female, female, female, female, female, female, and…female. I would have to go back for a proper analysis to be sure, but I suspect many (most?) of them wouldn’t pass a male version of the Bechdel Test.

Which is maybe why early in Rage is a Wolf after yet another douchey male character showed up, a little voice in my head sighed, “I need to read something with some proper dudes in it.” This was quickly followed by a dawning realization. “Oohhh…is this what it’s like for women and minoritized groups who hardly ever see themselves properly represented?”

Yes, I’m well aware this is a dilemma of my own making. It’s not like there’s a shortage of male-centric fiction out there. I just happen to have stumbled into a run of works that are less so, and had that weird little moment of clarity that seemed worth noting.

Categories
Books

A pair of books

Chuck Wendig is forever exhorting people to talk up the books they read to help get the word out. I’m not convinced anything I do here will move the needle for anyone, but I guess it can’t hurt. So, in addition to the recaps I’ve been doing the last few years, I’m going to try and surface books every once in a while as I go. So, let’s talk about The Spare Man (Mary Robinette Kowal) and Station Eternity (Mur Lafferty).

If you know your classic Hollywood, one look at The Spare Man’s cover will tell you what to expect — it screams “The Thin Man in Space,” and that’s very much what it is, with a handful of twists to the formula. I think my favorite of these was Gimlet being a service dog instead of just a pet, which adds an interesting layer. It’s a small thing, but I also appreciated the extra bits at the end touching on the science behind some bits in the story. This was the first novel by Mary Robinette I’ve read, but I’ll definitely be checkout out more of her work.

Mur Lafferty, on the other hand, I’ve been following since I first got wind of The Shambling Guide to New York City. Like The Spare Man, Station Eternity is also a murder mystery set in space, though the inspirations there are “Murder She Wrote” and “Babylon 5.” Pretty sure you’re not going to hear a character in either of those shows declare, “FUCKING METAL PRINCESS!” though… They’re calling the book “The Midsolar Murders #1,” so hopefully there will be more coming. Anyway, there are no dogs in it, but there are symbiotes, a sentient space station, rock aliens, a hive mind, and aliens who think humans and their leaky fluids are utterly disgusting. What’s not to like?