27 February 2013

Faster than a DC Bullet: Birds of Prey, Part VIII: Perfect Pitch

Comic trade paperback, 223 pages
Published 2007 (contents: 2005-06)
Borrowed from the library
Read February 2013
Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch

Writer: Gail Simone
Pencillers: Paulo Siqueira, Joe Bennett, Joe Prado, Eddy Barrows, Adriana Melo, Bruce Timm, David Lopez, Adam Dekraker
Inkers: Robin Riggs, Jack Jadson, Dick Giordano, Will Conrad, Fernando Blanco
Letterers: Jared K. Fletcher, Pat Brosseau

Perfect Pitch opens with a three-part celebratory story, which is possible one of the funnest Birds of Prey tales yet. The first part gives us a part for the recovered Dinah, with lots of fun moments for each of the characters, especially Zinda's attempts to flirt with Creote, Helena trying a new Italian restaurant's food, and Barbara making up with Dick. (Speaking of which, I feel like I only ever have half the story on that relationship-- was the other half happening in Nightwing comics I haven't read?) Then, there's a crazy story of a cultist attempt to sacrifice reporters in downtown Metropolis while Superman's away, which Dinah defeats with her usual aggressive approach. Bruce Timm's artwork for this tale is, of course, amazing. Finally, Helena gets to do some avenging. I'd say she was rapidly becoming my favorite Bird of Prey, except Barbara and Dinah are just as awesome.

The next story, the titular "Perfect Pitch," puts the Birds of Prey up against the Calculator (last seen by me being an anti-Oracle in Identity Crisis) as they continue their efforts to destroy Gotham's gangs by letting Huntress take over one of them. I didn't like this as much as some of the other recent stories: Batman is a jerk for unexplained reasons (if he previously told Oracle to stay out of Gotham, we never saw it happen in Birds of Prey itself), and Deathstroke the Terminator, possible my least favorite DC villain who is not Mongul, shows up. While him posing a threat to the Birds of Prey is more probable than him posing a threat to the Justice League, he's still completely overdone, and I was beyond pleased to see Dinah get him in the eye! Actually, there are a number of good moments in the story, such as Barbara revealing her new secret identity to her father, Huntress continuing to be badass, Dinah reconnecting with Oliver Queen for the first time since he cheated on her in Straight Shooter, Savant and Creote finally achieving real redemption, Dinah... "thanking" Batman, and Zinda learning the truth about Creote.

There's a year-long gap between "Pefect Pitch" and the next story, "Progeny." By the time of "Progeny," Dinah has left the team to switch positions with Shiva, who she wants to both learn from and redeem. I found that takeaway from Dinah being in the village where Shiva was raised kinda weak: she learns who she really is for the umpteenth time, I think. But I did like the subplot with Sin, even knowing how this will end up in Green Arrow and Black Canary.

On the other hand, Shiva serving with the Birds of Prey as "the Jade Canary" is every bit as delightful as you might imagine. But ugh, Prometheus shows up, and as long-time readers of my reviews might know, I hate him as much as Deathstroke and Mongul combined, probably. How did this many bad villains end up in the same collection? Also, Gypsy joins the Birds in this story... only you wouldn't even know that was her name were in not for the dramatis personae at the volume's beginning! Whoops.

Paulo Siequeira and Robin Riggs draw most of this volume, and they turn out to be Simone's most solid artistic partners yet. Good faces, solid linework. I was amused to notice that in this volume, Helena starts wearing purple lipstick that matches her Huntress costume's colors!

25 February 2013

Faster than a DC Bullet: Birds of Prey, Part VII: The Battle Within

Comic trade paperback, 237 pages
Published 2006 (contents: 2005)
Borrowed from the library
Read February 2013
Birds of Prey: The Battle Within

Writer: Gail Simone
Pencillers: Joe Bennett, Ed Benes, Tom Derenick, Joe Prado, Eddy Barrows
Inkers: Jack Jadson, Ed Benes, Bob Petrecca, Robin Riggs
Letterers: Jared K. Fletcher, Phil Balsman

The fourth collection of Gail Simone's Birds of Prey run is where her take really clicked with me-- perhaps because this collects twelve issues, a full year of her run, rather than the usual 6 or so, allowing one to really dig into her interweaving plots. This is odd, as I found the first few stories pretty disposable: the Birds, in their new mobile home Aerie One, travel to Dayton, Kansas, and Metropolis to rein in overeager vigilantes. I'm not sure why Barbara decided this was their new purpose in life, but there you go.

We get a few done-in-one (or -two) stories that are strong in character for the regulars, which is nice, but little else. It's nice to see Helena actually doing educational stuff, and there's one of my favorite moments in the whole series thus far when she crossbows a guy in hospital and shrugs it off. Zinda turns out to be a fantastic addition to the Birds, rarely at the center of the plots, but always fun in how she changes the dynamic. On the other hand, Kansas is portrayed in an utterly condescending way, and Tom Derenick and Bob Petrecca's art is so off that when a mystical creature ages Dinah twenty years in the middle of combat, you can't even tell.

The plot in the book's second half, as the Birds of Prey being to disintegrate and also take on some gangs internationally, was much more consistent. Helena leaves the group to do things in a way that combines her original one with Barbara's, and in doing so, we get our best understanding of her character in the series so far: someone violent and brash, but dedicated to doing good in whatever way works best. Helena trying to infiltrate the Gotham underworld (and tussling with Dick "Nightwing" Grayson, who is doing the same) is one of the series' most interesting undertakings. Meanwhile, Barbara must undergo surgery and Dinah has to organize the defense of Gotham City with just hand-on-hand combat. The interweaving of plot and character has never been sharper in the title, and I have never liked all three characters more.

Unfortunately, the story is let down by the series's weakest art thus far: Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson's women all have plastic faces incapable of displaying emotions other than wide-mouthed; Ed Benes might be cheesecakey, but at least his characters have facial expressions. Worse is the creepy way he draws all Asians. Ugh. One wonders why DC was never able to supply Gail Simone with an artist who could match her writing talent. At least Huntress's costume has lost the belly window.

22 February 2013

Review: The New Adventures: Walking to Babylon by Kate Orman

Mass market paperback, 257 pages
Published 1998
Acquired November 2012

Read December 2012
The New Adventures: Walking to Babylon
by Kate Orman

This is a thoughtful, cute romance, where Bernice gets to hang out with an Edwardian archaeologist in the distant past, while meanwhile the People get up to no good. Not a lot happens, perhaps (seriously, how long does it take you to find people from the far future in ancient Mesopotamia?), but Orman's prose and interiority are such that you rarely notice, and when you do notice, you don't care. Bernice is at her best here, after a couple crummy outings, and John Lafayette is a good character too. The investigation of the People is great; my first real encounter with these guys.

20 February 2013

Review: The New Adventures: Tempest by Christopher Bulis

Mass market paperback, 265 pages
Published 1998
Acquired and read August 2012
The New Adventures: Tempest
by Christopher Bulis

I don't think that if I was the editor, I'd've followed a hardboiled detective novel with a locked-room murder mystery. Tempest is a better novel than Mean Streets, though, for all that's worth. A murder mystery on a high-speed train is an interesting setting, and Bulis does his best to get something out of it. Not great, but you could do worse; Tempest's biggest flaw is the central character, who feels like she could be any detective, and not Bernice Summerfield in particular. There's no sense of voice.

18 February 2013

Review: Legion Lost by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Olivier Coipel, & Pascal Alixe

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2011 (contents: 2000-01)
Acquired May 2012
Read August 2012
Legion Lost

Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Olivier Coipel & Pascal Alixe
Inks: Andy Lanning
Colors: Tom McCraw

Despite how much I enjoyed the two Legion of Super-Heroes deluxe editions DC released over the past few years (The Great Darkness Saga and The Curse), Legion Lost largely flitted by without my notice-- until  I found the hardcover in a used bookstore for half-price.

Legion Lost technically stars a different version of the Legion than the one in The Great Darkness Saga and The Curse, but this is largely the same cast of characters, just thrust into a different situation, and it's pretty easy to go from the one to the other without being confused; everyone just has new, "hip" codenames, and there's no babies. Legion Lost opens with nine Legionnaires waking to find themselves trapped in a completely different part of the universe, with no apparent way home. And this isn't the bright, shiny world of the United Planets; it's a rough, dark corner of space, where might makes right. Basically, it's Star Trek: Voyager with superheroes.

Each chapter of Legion Lost is told from the perspective of a different character. The story starts with Shikari, a native of this region of space, stumbling across the Legion while fleeing her pursuers; her unfamiliarity with the Legion and familiarity with the locals adds to our disorientation, as she doesn't explain her reference point, and our own reference points have become alien. The best part of this chapter is definitely when Shikari finds a recording of Element Lad from who knows how long ago: he put the others into hibernation and lived alone until he died! It's a haunting message from the past, and lets you know how bad things are before the story even starts.

From there, we move from Legionnaire to Legionnaire. My favorites were definitely Monstress-- the one-time sheltered elite turned hulking brute by a gene bomb-- who operates as the heart of the team, and Saturn Girl-- the team's telepathic leader, who finds herself pushed to the limit keeping the team together under these circumstances. She does some terrible things, perhaps, but I loved her all the better for it. She might be my favorite Legionnaire overall.

The pushing to darker places works really well: Legion Lost shows what the Legion of Super-Heroes is by showing us what it isn't and what it could be. It's Star Trek: Voyager with superheroes, yes, but it's also Voyager done right. You never got the sense that Janeway and her crew were tested by their ideals like you do the Legion here, in the darkest of places.

The art, by the team of Olivier Coipel, Pascal Alixe, and Andy Lanning, is scratchy in a way that just reeks of the 1990s to me, but is also perfect for the story, really representing the dark places the team finds itself. Also the colors by Tom MacCraw really make the darkness come alive, even if the Legion itself is wearing fluorescent spandex.

I finished my review of The Curse stating I'd become a fan of that particular incarnation of the Legion of Super-Heroes; I think we can safely state that now I'm a fan of the Legion full-stop. Some more of the Abnett/Lanning Legion comics are being collected next year, and if they're half as good as this, they'll be fantastic.

15 February 2013

Faster than a DC Bullet: Birds of Prey, Part VI: Between Dark & Dawn

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2006 (contents: 2004)
Borrowed from the library
Read January 2013
Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn

Writer: Gail Simone
Pencillers: Ed Benes, Ron Adrian, Jim Fern, Eduardo Barreto, Eric Battle
Inkers: Ed Benes, Rob Lea, Steve Bird, Andrew Pepoy, Rodney Ramos
Letterers: Jared K. Fletcher, Ken Lopez

This time, the Huntress is the agent of the Oracle out in the field doing crazy things, and it's a nice contrast to what Dinah is normally tasked with; we get to dig into the head of the Gotham vigilante too hardcore for even Batman. Meanwhile, Dinah has to stop Barbara from snapping. There's even a Superman cameo, though it perhaps raises too many questions in the long run. Oracle is given an opponent worthy of her skill, and there's some disturbing visions within her own mind.  On the whole a competent storyline, though perhaps the least interesting one since Simone took over the Birds of Prey title.

A couple single-issue stories finish out the volume. The first features Black Canary and the Huntress beating up some henchmen, and then Black Canary laying the smackdown on Savant, who tortured her back in Of Like Minds; this was an okay story, let down by stiff and difficult artwork.

The last story is just confusing. All of a sudden, Barbara's clocktower and the Birds' base has been blown up! I guess this happening in a Batman story running at the same time, but it seems off that an event of such importance to Birds of Prey would happen in a completely different title, and with us barely getting a glimpse of it. What would bring Barbara to do this? I'll never know, or at least not for a while. This paves the way for a new setup, with Lady Blackhawk joining the team as they move to a mobile aerial base. I was really surprised by this, as it means that the ostensibly classic setup of Simone writing (and Benes usually drawing) Black Canary, Oracle, and Huntress on the team while in Gotham lasts a mere three collections. Given what an impact the series had in this form, I had expected it to last longer.

13 February 2013

Faster than a DC Bullet: Birds of Prey, Part V: Sensei & Student

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2004 (contents: 2004)
Borrowed from the library
Read January 2013
Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student

Writer: Gail Simone
Pencillers: Ed Benes, Michael Golden, Joe Bennett, Cliff Richards
Inkers: Alex Lei, Ed Benes, Ruy Jose, Mike Manley, Scott Hanna, Michael Golden
Letterers: Jared K. Fletcher, Rob Leigh, Nick Napolitano

This cover indicates that Greg Land isn't even trying anymore; he'll just trace any old woman if they vaguely match what he's going for.

After the very Gotham-focused Of Like Minds, Sensei & Student sees a return to the globe-trotting antics of Chuck Dixon's Birds of Prey stories, though there are no third-world dictators here. Dinah "Black Canary" Lance travels to Hong Kong to pay homage to a dying master who trained her... only to discover that the assassin Lady Shiva was trained by the same master. (The two characters previously appeared together in Green Arrow Annual #1 back in 1989, though there was no such link between them then.) Black Canary and Lady Shiva must team up to find their sensei's killer-- which eventually brings them into contact with Cheshire, the supervillain Dinah once stranded in the distant past. This means lots of opportunities for Ed Benes to drawn cheesecake, of course, but it also means lots of opportunities for fun banter and interplay; the airplane flight is definitely the best part.

Meanwhile, in Gotham, Oracle and the Huntress are looking into a senator who appeared at the end of the previous volume, in a storyline whose complications and rationales always remained a little obscure to me. Also, they improbably conveniently dovetail with both Oracle's Hong Kong plot and a case never solved by the first Black Canary, which we get to see in flashback. (Which was awesome; I love any and all versions of the Black Canary, and the art on this story was certainly the best in the book.) There's some pretty creepy stuff when Oracle gets hacked, and then she gets captured (I feel like this happens a lot). In the end, the heroines win, of course, in a blockbuster final battle. Fun, if not entirely coherent.

The final issue takes a break from the superhero hijinks to show the Birds relaxing; I'd've found this a lot more charming if the art wasn't so anatomically distorted and just plain awkward. (The previous volume was 100% Ed Benes on pencils; this volume sees a number of fill-in artists, which shows that though I might not like Benes cheesecake, other people's cheesecake is a whole lot worse.) I'm not sure what I think of the ending of the plotline about Huntress and the guy who won a date from her. On one hand, she can sleep with whoever she wants. On another hand, this guy is pretty skeevy! On the final hand, it's hard to imagine Batman in this plotline, at least quite this way. The final page is excellent, though; probably the best in the whole book.

11 February 2013

Faster than a DC Bullet: Birds of Prey, Part IV: Of Like Minds

Comic trade paperback, 143 pages
Published 2004 (contents: 2003-04)
Borrowed from the library
Read January 2013
Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds

Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inkers: Alex Lei with Rob Lea
Letterers: John E. Workman, Rob Leigh, Jared K. Fletcher

The cover of this one made me feel a little skeevy when I picked it up from the library-- only one button, Oracle? a "belly window," Huntress?-- but this is the start of Gail Simone's celebrated run on Birds of Prey. For most of the story, Black Canary is captured and seemingly under threat of torture, an interesting contrast to what happened to her at the beginning of Mike Grell's Green Arrow run in The Longbow Hunters. That torture removed her sonic cry, destroyed her ability to have children, and caused her to largely abandon her crime-fighting career. And, of course, she was utterly dependent on Green Arrow to rescue her. (Though what's not often mentioned is that in the prelude to The Black Arrow Saga a couple years later, Green Arrow was just as badly tortured, and rescued by Black Canary in an amazing example of sheer ass-kicking.) The torture her serves as a rebirth of sorts for Black Canary: she remasters her sonic cry, and she's rescued not by her boyfriend, but by her new best friends, Oracle and the Huntress, working together as they've never done before-- not to mention Canary's own quick thinking. It's an effective way to signal the beginning of a new era.

Otherwise, this is a serviceable but unremarkable superhero story, involving captures, double-bluffs, escapes, and lots of fighting. The best part of it is Simone's grasp of the characters; she ably picks up the ball from Chuck Dixon and carries on the development of Dinah and Barbara, adding Helena into the mix as well. There are a lot of great moments: Helena saving a baby, Dinah having to cope with a wheelchair of her own, Barbara's battle of wits with Savant.

If only Ed Benes didn't feel compelled to show off all the female characters' butts and boobs at every opportunity. Are you fifteen, dude? What is this supposed to be in aid of? I also miss the Black Canary costume introduced at the beginning of Dixon's run; I'm not sure where it went in the gap between Old Friends, New Enemies and this story. Benes also draws Dinah a little too young; especially with that haircut, she looks like she's 20 years old, when in fact she's a few years older than Barbara. On the other hand, I think he gets Barbara down perfectly, and he's pretty adept with facial expressions, which is important when you have a largely immobile character!

08 February 2013

Review: Man-Kzin Wars XI by Hal Colebatch and Matthew Harrington

Kindle eBook, n.pag.
Published 2005
Acquired June 2012
Read August 2012
Man-Kzin Wars XI
by Hal Colebatch and Matthew Harrington

I picked this book up as part of a Baen eBook Bundle; I'd read the first Man-Kzin Wars book, and I had a vague memory of being indifferent to it. Based on my memories and that cover, I expected macho man-versus-animal space combat, nothing either good or impressive. The first story in the book, Hal Colebatch's "Three At Table," substantiated that viewpoint: it was mostly about a guy on a hunting expedition dealing with dangerous Space Animals, with some weird sex thrown in.

But after that point, the book improved a lot, and made me think I'd probably read "Three At Table" unkindly.  Colebatch's next two stories, "Grossgeister Swamp" and "Catspaws," are complicated depictions, not of a society at war, but of a society after war. There are a lot of characters across all the Colebatch tales here, and many of them are soldiers-- from both sides of the war-- trying to cope with peacetime life and new attitudes.  "Catspaws" is more a short novel than a short story, taking up 40% of the book according to my Kindle, and I liked it quite a bit. I would definitely read more Man-Kzin Wars stories by Colebatch. Though these stories stood alone, these characters quite clearly had histories worth reading about.

There are two stories by Matthew Joseph Harrington: "Teacher's Pet" and "War and Peace." These are less standalone than Colebatch's stories, as they both deal with something called a "Pak Protector," which I dimly recall from when I read the Ringworld books in high school. The stories are decent and do some interesting stuff (especially "Teacher's Pet," where the Pak Protector exploits a kzinti warrior), but they seem to assume I'm much more interested in the minutiae of Pak Protector continuity than I possibly could be.

The book closes out with a quick Larry Niven story, "The Hunting Park," which was decent. A neat idea: it feels like the Man-Kzin Wars story that Ernest Hemingway would have written.

06 February 2013

Review: Music to My Sorrow by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

Kindle eBook, n.pag.
Published 2005
Acquired June 2012
Read August 2012
Music to My Sorrow
by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

I'm trying to remember if I liked anything about this book. The characters are flat (everyone is pure good or evil, and of course all evil characters hang out with one another), people act stupid to advance the plot, the portrayal of religion is about as nuanced as being smashed in the head with a brick by an atheist, the central showdown is contrived and uninteresting. I wish I could expunge reading this book from my life.

04 February 2013

Review: The Ring Sets Out by J. R. R. Tolkien

Hardcover, 283 pages
Published 2000 (originally 1954)
Acquired February 2011
Read January 2013
The Ring Sets Out: Being the First Book of The Lord of the Rings
by J. R. R. Tolkien

Reading The Lord of the Rings book by book is an interesting experience. I have often heard others being (and remember myself being) frustrated by how long it took The Fellowship of the Ring to get out of the Shire. But when you read The Ring Sets Out on its own, it's a novel about the Shire.  About living in it, about it being invaded, about leaving it.

"Concerning Hobbits," the prologue, sets us up nicely with a loving description of the Shire, its inhabitants, and its customs. I expected to find this tedious, but in fact I ate it up. From there, we launch into the goings-on of Bilbo's birthday party, which both let us see the splendor of the Shire, foibles and all, but also beings hinting at something coming to upset the Shire. So effective is this setup, I think, that when the Black Riders make their move, it's incongruous: the Shire itself is under threat, and so we too feel threatened.

There's a lot of homeyness in The Ring Sets Out; never before have I read a book so interested in the quality and quantity of its protagonists' baths. Baths, food, sleep, drinks-- these are all the markers of home in The Ring Sets Out, and the Shire itself. Our main characters are all homebodies: adventurous by hobbit standards, but timid and naïve by all others. It's interesting to contrast their journey out of the Shire to the one in The Hobbit; Bilbo makes it all the way to the Lonely Mountain and back in the amount of pages that it takes Frodo to make it just to Bree. But that's because The Hobbit is a novel about the adventure, while The Ring Sets Out is a novel about how difficult it is to leave your home behind. I was always struck as a kid by the sections set in Bree, where our four heroes have literally no one they can trust, and they have no idea how to behave. They feel very alienating as a reader.

The only part where I felt The Ring Sets Out really flags is not the infamous Tom Bombadil segment, but after it; the encounter with him is fine, but immediately after it, the whole incident is repeated! The hobbits are captured by a tree, Tom Bombadil saves them, and they stay the night at his house. Then they leave, are captured by barrow-wights, and Tom saves them again. The only reason that the second capture can even happen is because Tom leaves them for no apparent reason.

The Ring Sets Out ends with Frodo lapsing into unconsciousness, beyond the Shire, beyond Bree, beyond Weathertop, beyond anything Frodo has even heard of.  The Shire is far behind, and everything ahead of him  is completely unknown...

01 February 2013

Reading Roundup Wrapup: January 2013

Pick of the month: Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis. I'd heard this book was good, but I hadn't expected it to be this good. Not only is it the sort of bildungsroman that I always love, not only did it have me on the verge of tearing up, but it actually manages to dramatize in a very natural and un-contrived fashion the consequences of scientific objectivity, managing to make the emotional and scientific hearts of the story the same event, the same dilemma. Very impressive.

I read the most books this month of any month in my entire life, I am pretty sure. Over a book a day! Now that I have no courses and no exam reading left, though, I am anticipating a massive drop-off here.

All books read:
1. The Fixed Period by Anthony Trollope
2. Two on a Tower: A Romance by Thomas Hardy
3. Dying to Know: Scientific Epistemology and Narrative in Victorian England by George Levine
4. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, With Illustrations by the Author, A Square by Edwin A. Abbott
5. Black Canary/Oracle/Huntress: Birds of Prey by Chuck Dixon with Jordan B. Gorfinkel
6. Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies by Chuck Dixon
7. Tales from Super-Science Fiction edited by Robert Silverberg
8. Looking Backward, 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy
9. The Doings of Raffles Haw by A. Conan Doyle
10. DC Comics: The Sequential Art of Amanda Conner by Barbara Kesel, Chuck Dixon, Jai Nitz, Terry Moore, Patton Oswalt, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, Judd Winick, and Amanda Conner
11. News from Nowhere, or An Epoch of Rest, Being Some Chapters from a Utopian Romance by William Morris
12. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by A. Conan Doyle
13. The Pelican History of England: 8. England in the Nineteenth Century (1815-1914) by David Thomson
14. Visual and Other Pleasures by Laura Mulvey
15. Evolution & Ethics by Thomas Henry Huxley
16. Voices Prophesying War: Future Wars, 1763-3749 by I. F. Clarke
17. The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells
18. The British Barbarians: A Hill-Top Novel by Grant Allen
19. The Early Fiction of H. G. Wells: Fantasies of Science by Steven McLean
20. The Beetle by Richard Marsh
21. The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
22. Faction Paradox: A Romance in Twelve Parts edited by Stuart Douglas & Lawrence Miles
23. Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments by Edmund Gosse
24. The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton, edited by Martin Gardner
25. Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds by Gail Simone
26. Born in Exile by George Gissing
27. Ann Veronica by H. G. Wells
28. Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
29. Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student by Gail Simone
30. Victorian Science Fiction in the UK: the Discourses of Knowledge and of Power by Darko Suvin
31. The Ring Sets Out: Being the First Book of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
32. Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn by Gail Simone
33. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation by Mary Louise Pratt
34. Origins of Futuristic Fiction by Paul K. Alkon
35. Victorian Detective Fiction and the Nature of Evidence: The Scientific Investigations of Poe, Dickens, and Doyle by Lawrence Frank
36. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature by Donna J. Haraway

All books acquired:
1. Doctor Who in an exciting adventure with the Daleks by David Whitaker
2. Bernice Summerfield VIII: Collected Works by Nick Wallace
3. The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
4. The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells
5. Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
6. The British Barbarians: A Hill-Top Novel by Grant Allen
7. The Virgin in the Garden by A. S. Byatt
8. Star Wars: Knight Errant, Volume One: Aflame by John Jackson Miller
9. Star Wars: Knight Errant by John Jackson Miller
10. Star Wars: Knight Errant, Volume Two: Deluge by John Jackson Miller
11. Science Fiction Writers: Critical Studies of the Major Authors from the Early Nineteenth Century to the Present Day edited by E. F. Bleiler
12. Born in Exile by George Gissing
13. Calling the Shots: Directing the New Series of Doctor Who by Graeme Harper with Adrian Rigelsford
14. Ann Veronica by H. G. Wells
15. Timelink: An Unofficial and Unauthorised Exploration of Doctor Who Continuity, Volume One by Jon Preddle
16. Timelink: An Unofficial and Unauthorised Exploration of Doctor Who Continuity, Volume Two by Jon Preddle
17. John Brunner Presents Kipling's Science Fiction by Rudyard Kipling
18. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
19. The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton

#2, 4-6, 12, 14, 17, and 19 were the last of my exam books, so now I'm out of excuses to constantly buy new Penguin Classics.

Books remaining on "To be read" list: 480

Review: Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks by Jon Preddle

PDF eBook, 72 pages
Published 2007 (originally 1992)
Read August 2012
Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks
by Jon Preddle

Thankfully, Jon Preddle adds backstory to Eric Saward's often thin and nonsensical story. Unfortunately, he seems to think this is best done by pasting great big paragraphs of history in between lines of dialogue.