02 May 2015

Reading Roundup Wrapup: April 2015

Pick of the month: Return to Tomorrow by Preston Neal Jones. What a month! Recently I've struggled to pick a book because nothing has been head-and-shoulders above the rest; this month, I read two books that could have won any other month. Both Jones's oral history of the making of the original Star Trek film and the complete short sf of Cordwainer Smith were clear winners in my book. But Return to Tomorrow ended up edging the other book out-- a fascinating treasure trove of production trivia, over 600 pages of facts guaranteed to make you bore your loved ones the next time you watch the movie and pause it to explain that every shot in the wormhole sequence had to be recorded four times. No wonder they went over-budget! And their slowed down voices weren't an effect; in ADR looping, they talked slowly to match the slowed down footage!

All books read:
1. Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Ylesia by Walter Jon Williams
2. Ways of Seeing by John Berger, Sven Blomberg, Chris Fox, Michael Dibb, Richard Hollis
3. The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith edited by James A. Mann
4. Doctor Who: The Third Doctor: The Spear of Destiny by Marcus Sedgwick
5. The New Adventures: Twilight of the Gods by Mark Clapham and Jon de Burgh Miller
6. Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture: An Oral History by Preston Neal Jones

A light month, but not for lack of reading; both The Rediscovery of Man and Return to Tomorrow, which I alternated between, were whompers!

All books acquired:
1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: Manga, Volume Two by Toshiki Kudo
2. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Manga, Volume Two by Shin-ichi Hiromoto
3. Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming
4. Miracleman, Book Three: Olympus by The Original Writer with Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan
5. Orion Omnibus by Walter Simsonson with Eric Stephenson, Howard Chaykin, Jeph Loeb, Kevin McCarthy, Mark Millar, and Scott Beatty

This completes my collection of Star Wars manga, and thus my collection of Star Wars comics published by Dark Horse (ones that I want to own, anyway). I look forward to seeing what Marvel do with the license when the collections begin publication. Any publisher that commissions a Lando series is all right by me!

31 March 2015

Reading Roundup Wrapup: March 2015

Pick of the month: When in Rome by Jeph Loeb. Slim pickings, I'm afraid. This is another month where I'm limited by what I actually managed to read-- almost all low-to-mid-range superhero books. But When in Rome was probably the best in terms of accomplishing what it set out to do, though I also enjoyed Robin: Year One. Summa Technologiae is a book I wanted to like but... boy, it made it tough. Mostly all I did this month was continue my Batman reading project, but I think I am on track to rediversify my reading a little bit.

All books read:
1. Moving Pictures by Kathryn & Stuart Immonen
2. Absolute Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
3. Catwoman: When in Rome by Jeph Loeb
4. Batman: Year Two: Fear the Reaper by Mike W. Barr
5. Robin: Year One by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty
6. 52 by Greg Cox
7. Electronic Mediations, Volume 40: Summa Technologiae by Stanisław Lem
8. Countdown to Final Crisis: 51…50…49…48…47…46…45…44…43…42…41…40…39… by Paul Dini with Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, Tony Bedard, Adam Beechen, Sean McKeever, and Keith Giffen
9. Countdown to Final Crisis: 38…37…36…35…34…33…32…31…30…29…28…27…26… by Paul Dini with Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, Adam Beechen, Tony Bedard, Sean McKeever, and Keith Giffen

All books acquired:
1. Kleptomania: Ten Stories by Manjula Padmanabhan
2. Fantastic Four by Matt Fraction Omnibus by Matt Fraction with Chris Sebela, Karl Kesel, Lee Allred, and Michael Allred
3. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: Manga, Volume Three by Toshiki Kudo
4. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: Manga, Volume Four by Toshiki Kudo
5. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Manga, Volume One by Shin-ichi Hiromito
6. The New Adventures: Twilight of the Gods by Mark Clapham & Jon de Burgh Miller

03 March 2015

Reading Roundup Wrapup: February 2015

Pick of the month: Traitor by Matthew Stover. Whoa, I did not read a lot, huh? But still this is a good book. Not as good as Stover's later Star Wars works-- The Shadows of Mindor is definitely his masterpiece-- but this is the book that makes the inane philosophical ponderings of the early New Jedi Order worth it, by giving someone an actual philosophical crisis. And Stover makes that interesting and relevant, by grounding it in action: this book never lets up intellectually or physically, and the climax is certainly one of the all-time great moments in Star Wars literature.

All books read:
1. Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand by Aaron Allston
2. Doctor Who: The Second Doctor: The Nameless City by Michael Scott
3. Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Traitor by Matthew Stover
4. Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou

Yeah... that ties for August 2010 as my worst-ever reading month.

All books acquired:
1. The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith edited by James A. Mann
2. Three Virgins and Other Stories by Manjula Padmanabhan
3. Hot Death, Cold Soup: Twelve Short Stories by Manjula Padmanabhan
4. Escape by Manjula Padmanabhan
5. Star Wars: A New Hope: Manga, Volume Three by Hisao Tamaki
6. Star Wars: A New Hope: Manga, Volume Four by Hisao Tamaki
7. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: Manga, Volume One by Toshiki Kudo
8. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Manga, Volume Four by Shin-ichi Hiromoto

Books remaining on "To be read" list: ???

02 February 2015

Reading Roundup Wrapup: January 2015

Pick of the month: The Next Crusade by Robert Cromie. You shall see on my full list that I read a crapton of late C19/early C20 proto-sci-fi at the Eaton Collection at the University of California, Riverside (#1-3, 5-9, 11, 13-17 below). Many of these books were terrible, but there were some good ones, and though I wouldn't call The Next Crusade great, it had some very enjoyable bits. Britain makes war on Turks, awesome naval battles ensue and a badass NCO blusters a lot. It's set in the same future history (but is not a direct sequel to) Cromie's earlier For England's Sake, which I would now like to track down. (When All Men Starve is probably the other legit good one. Though maybe they both come from late in the trip because by that point I was growing inured to racism and didacticism.)

All books read:
1. The Year of Miracle: A Tale of the year One Thousand Nine Hundred by Fergus Hume
2. The Great Pirate Syndicate by George Griffith
3. The Zeppelin Destroyer: Being Some Chapters of Secret History by William le Queux
4. The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service by Erskine Childers
5. A Woman against the World by George Griffith
6. The Three Days’ Terror by J. S. Fletcher
7. The Stolen Submarine: A Tale of the Russo-Japanese War by George Griffith
8. 6,000 Tons of Gold by H. R. Chamberlain
9. The Sack of London by the Highland Host: A Romance of the Period, Narrated by Jingo Jones, M.P.
10. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
11. The Terror of the Air by William le Queux
12. Witches, Midwives & Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English
13. Marmaduke, Emperor of Europe: Being a Record of Some Strange Adventures in the Remarkable Career of a Political and Social Reformer Who Was Famous at the Commencement of the Twentieth Century by X
14. The English Revolution of the Twentieth Century: A Prospective History by Henry Lazarus
15. The Next Crusade by Robert Cromie
16. The Invasion of New York; or, How Hawaii Was Annexed by J. H. Palmer
17. When All Men Starve: Showing How England Hazarded Her Naval Supremacy, and the Horrors Which Followed the Interruption of Her Food Supply by Charles Gleig
18. Sixty Lights by Gail Jones
19. Doctor Who: The First Doctor: A Big Hand for the Doctor by Eoin Colfer
20. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #5: Fallen Heroes by Dafydd ab Hugh
21. Doctor Who Magazine: Special Edition #39: The 2015 Yearbook edited by Marcus Hearn
22. Political Future Fiction: Speculative and Counter-Factual Politics in Edwardian Fiction, Volume 2: Fictions of a Feminist Future edited by Kate Macdonald
23. Batman: Two-Face and Scarecrow: Year One by Bruce Jones and Mark Sable
24. I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason
25. Batman: Haunted Knight: The Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials: Three Tales of Halloween in Gotham City by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

All books acquired:
1. Richard Meier & Partners: White is the Light by Philip Jodidio
2. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
3. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
4. Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace: Manga, Volume Two by Kia Asamiya
5. Star Wars: A New Hope: Manga, Volume One by Hisao Tamaki
6. Star Wars: A New Hope: Manga, Volume Two by Hisao Tamaki
7. Young Avengers Omnibus by Kieron Gillen
8. Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Omnibus, Vol. 2 by Jonathan Hickman

#2-3 constitute belated Christmas presents (from SantaThing).

Books remaining on "To be read" list: ???

07 January 2015

Reading Roundup Wrapup: December 2014

Pick of the month: Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale. I'd read this before, but not as an Absolute Edition, and Tim Sale's artwork is gorgeous at the overlarge scale, of course. But Loeb's writing holds up, too-- this is a tale about the early Batman in the best possible way, about the man who believes he can save the city is he does everything right. And Harvey Dent, and Jim Gordon, and all the rest. This is the eleventh of the "Batman's early years" tales I've read so far, and it is surely among the best.

All books read:
1. Doctor Who, Volume 4: Dead Man’s Hand by Tony Lee
2. Adverbs by Daniel Handler
3. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences by Michel Foucault
4. Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, Volume 1 by Scott & David Tipton
5. Batman: Rules of Engagement by Andy Diggle
6. Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity by Matt Wagner
7. Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
8. Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, Volume 2 by Scott & David Tipton
9. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
10. Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, Volume 3 by Scott & David Tipton
11. Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Dark Journey by Elaine Cunningham
12. Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston
13. The Shape of Things to Come: The Ultimate Revolution by H. G. Wells
14. The New Doctor Who Adventures: Nightshade by Mark Gatiss
15. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception by Michel Foucault
16. Star Wars Adventures: Boba Fett and the Ship of Fear by Jeremy Barlow

All books acquired:
1. Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Omnibus, Vol. 2 by Jonathan Hickman
2. Star Wars, Volume Four: A Shattered Hope by Brian Wood with Zack Whedon
3. Star Wars Manga: Black edited by Rob Tokar
4. Star Wars Manga: Silver edited by Rob Tokar
5. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
6. Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture: An Oral History by Preston Neal Jones
7. Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Volume 3 by Edmond Hamilton and Jerry Siegel
8. Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Volume 4 by Jerry Siegel, Edmond Hamilton, and Otto Binder
9. The New Doctor Who Adventures: Nightshade by Mark Gatiss
10. Doctor Who: The First Doctor: A Big Hand for the Doctor by Eoin Colfer
11. Doctor Who: The Second Doctor: The Nameless City by Michael Scott
12. Doctor Who: The Third Doctor: The Spear of Destiny by Marcus Sedgwick
13. Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor: The Roots of Evil by Philip Reeve
14. Doctor Who: The Fifth Doctor: Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness
15. Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor: Something Borrowed by Richelle Mead
16. Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor: The Ripple Effect by Malorie Blackman
17. Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor: Spore by Alex Scarrow
18. Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor: The Beast of Babylon by Charlie Higson
19. Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage by Derek Landy
20. Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor: Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman
21. Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Lights Out by Holly Black
22. Complete Short Story Omnibus by H. G. Wells
23. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
24. Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara
25. Electronic Mediations, Volume 40: Summa Technologiae by Stanisław Lem
26. In The Dust of This Planet [Horror of Philosophy, vol 1] by Eugene Thacker
27. Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
28. Double Dutch by Sharon M. Draper
29. One for the Money by D. B. Borton
30. If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock
31. The Cruel Sea: Collected Comic Strips from the pages of Doctor Who Magazine by Gareth Roberts & Clayton Hickman, Mike Collins, Robert Shearman, Scott Gray, and Steven Moffat
32. Saga, Book One by Brian K. Vaughan
33. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book One: 1985-1987 by Bill Watterson
34. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book Two: 1987-1989 by Bill Watterson
35. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book Three: 1990-1992 by Bill Watterson
36. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book Four: 1992-1995 by Bill Watterson

Too many books!

Books remaining on "To be read" list: 594

14 December 2014

Reading Roundup Wrapup: November 2014

Oh gosh, am I even trying any more?

Pick of the month: Dubliners by James Joyce. This is my second or maybe third time reading this book; anyway, it's still brilliant. "The Dead" is one of the most perceptive recordings of human thought in literature, I reckon. I think the literature 1890s and 1900s contains my ideal mixture of realism and modernism.

All books read:
1. Doctor Who, Volume 2: The Eye of Ashaya by Andy Diggle and Joshua Hale Fialkov with Richard Dinnick
2. Dubliners by James Joyce
3. Doctor Who, Volume 3: Sky Jacks! by Andy Diggle & Eddie Robson with Len Wein
4. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
5. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis
6. Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker
7. Justine by Lawrence Durrell
8. Batman: Shaman by Dennis O’Neil
9. Batman: The Ring, the Arrow and the Bat by Dennis O’Neil
10. Batman: Venom by Dennis O’Neil
11. The New Adventures: The Joy Device by Justin Richards
12. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #2: The Siege by Peter David

All books acquired:
1. The Annotated Sandman, Volume Three: The Sandman #40-56 by Neil Gaiman, edited by Leslie S. Klinger
2. Miracleman, Book Two: The Red King Syndrome by The Original Writer with Cat Yronwode
3. Alias Omnibus by Brian Michael Bendis
4. Star Wars, Volume Three: Rebel Girl by Brian Wood
5. Star Wars: Rebel Heist by Matt Kindt
6. Star Wars: Legacy, Volume II, Book 3: Wanted: Ania Solo by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
7. Star Wars: Legacy, Volume II, Book 4: Empire of One by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
8. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Books remaining on "To be read" list: 565

09 November 2014

Reading Roundup Wrapup: October 2014

Pick of the month: Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones. I'm not a big Hensonite in the way that some of my generation are; of course, I grew up watching Sesame Street, but I never saw The Muppet Show until I was an adult, just a few of the films. But reading this book gave me a huge appreciation for a man who was obviously quite talented, and now I want to see all those things he did that I never saw, and rewatch the ones that I have seen. I was surprised how emotional I was reading about his memorial service.

All books read:
1. The Professor Challenger Adventures, Volume II: When the World Screamed & Other Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
2. Dark Moon Rising: Batman and the Mad Monk by Matt Wagner
3. Doctor Who II, Volume 4: As Time Goes By by Joshua Hale Fialkov
4. The Brontës Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson
5. Afterimage by Helen Humphreys
6. Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimiliation² by Scott & David Tipton with Tony Lee
7. Batman: Prey by Doug Moench
8. The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
9. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
10. Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones
11. Doctor Who, Volume I: The Hypothetical Gentleman by Andy Diggle and Brandon Seifert

All books acquired:
1. Star Wars: Dark Times, Volume Seven: A Spark Remains by Randy Stradley
2. Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, Book Three: Force War by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema
3. The Star Wars: Based on the Rough-Draft Screenplay by George Lucas by J. W. Rinzler
4. Wait Wait...I'm Not Done Yet! by Carl Kasell
5. The New Adventures: The Joy Device by Justin Richards

Books remaining on "To be read" list: 559

01 October 2014

Reading Roundup Wrapup: September 2014

Pick of the month: A Passage to India by E. M. Forster. A lot of the books I read this month are quite likable-- Arrowsmith, The Third Man, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.-- but I've read them before. A Passage to India, though, I have not, and I really liked it. A strong depth of character, an interesting examination of a complicated issue. It's my first Forster novel, but I expect it won't be the last.

All books read:
1. Dinosaur Summer by Greg Bear
2. The New Adventures: Return to the Fractured Planet by Dave Stone
3. The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel
4. Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
5. Infinite Crisis by Greg Cox
6. The Third Man by Graham Greene
7. Batman: Year One: Deluxe Edition by Frank Miller
8. Dark Moon Rising: Batman and the Monster Men by Matt Wagner
9. Doctor Who: When Worlds Collide by Tony Lee
10. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
11. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
12. Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Wild Space by Karen Miller
13. Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Volume 13 by Paul Levitz with Jim Shooter and Gerry Conway
14. Doctor Who, Volume 3: It Came From Outer Space by Tony Lee with Joshua Hale Fialkov, Matthew Dow Smith, and Dan McDaid
15. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

All books acquired:
1. Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Wild Space by Karen Miller
2. Star Wars: Legacy, Volume II, Book I: Prisoner of the Floating World by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
3. Star Wars: Legacy, Volume II, Book 2: Outcasts of the Broken Ring by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
4. Star Wars: Ewoks: Shadows of Endor by Zack Giallongo
5. The Professor Challenger Adventures, Volume II: When the World Screamed & Other Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
6. On The Government of the Living: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1979-1980 by Michel Foucault

All books remaining on "To be read" list: 553

If I still have faithful readers, rest assured I will be back on track soon-ish. I still need to do my 2013-14 year-end wrapup!

15 September 2014

Review: In the Days of the Comet by H. G. Wells

Trade paperback, 221 pages
Published 2001 (originally 1906)
Acquired October 2013
Read August 2014
In the Days of the Comet
by H. G. Wells

This H. G. Wells novel is hard to like, though he carries it out with his usual attention to detail. We get a protagonist who doesn't see what's important, our man William who scrabbled along. What makes this work as well as it does is its retrospective tone: the world of today seems very strange when viewed from the future, and Wells emphasizes this with the kind of explanations our narrator has to provide. But then a magic gas makes everyone act perfectly rationally from then on, and a new society free of the problems of the old one is born. (There's sort of a subgenre of apocalypses caused by strange gases at the turn of the century: In the Days of the Comet is preceded by M. P. Shiel's The Purple Cloud, and followed by Arthur Conan Doyle's The Poison Belt. I don't know if there are others.) In terms of providing practical solutions, there's not a lot going on, but I think this book is more about suggesting a way of thinking and seeing that would do all of us some good. Or so Wells thinks; anyone who has read a lot of Wells will be unsurprised to learn that according to the book, free love is the way to go.

12 September 2014

Review: The Ripper by Tony Lee et al.

Comic PDF eBook, 90 pages
Published 2011 (contents: 2011)
Acquired May 2014
Read August 2014
Doctor Who: The Ripper

Written by Tony Lee
Art by Andrew Currie, Richard Piers Rayner, Horacio Domingues, and Tim Hamilton
Colors by Charlie Kirchoff and Phil Elliott
Lettering by Shawn Lee and Neil Uyetake

Rory is added to the mix in this next installment of IDW's Doctor Who comics, which sees the ubiquitous Tony Lee back on writing duties. The first story here, the one issue "Spam Filtered" (art by Andrew Currie) is good fun, as the TARDIS is overrun by banner ads and spam e-mails when Rory links his smartphone into its systems. Lee captures the voices of the main cast perfectly, and the story is the kind of delightful thing that really shows off what Doctor Who can be in the comic book medium.

Less successful is "Ripper's Curse" (art by Richard Piers Rayner, Horacio Domingues, and Tim Hamilton), which just never engages; it's all a bit too rote. I did like the bit where the Doctor and Rory figure out where the Ripper's next victim is by hopping forward and asking a tour guide, but Doctor Who already has too many boring takes on Jack the Ripper, and this is just one more; I've never gotten the fascination.