30 November 2017

Voice and Genre in Young Adult Literature: Feed (2002)

Trade paperback, 300 pages
Published 2004 (originally 2002)
Acquired September 2008

Previously read October 2008 and August 2011
Reread February 2017
Feed by M. T. Anderson

Joe Sutliff Sanders has a chapter called "Young Adult SF" in the Routledge Companion to Science Fiction where he looks at that overlapping Venn diagram of young adult literature and science fiction. Sanders says that YASF is a tricky business: "when weighing the importance of traditional traits of sf in YASF, fundamental differences, even incompatibilities, emerge between these perspectives" (448). Young adult fiction is all about relevance. He quotes two other critics on the problem: Farah Mendlesohn says that YASF "closes down the universe for children, reducing sf to either metaphor or to a means to resolve personal problems" (448), while Mike Cadden argues that "while science fiction tends to give us more or less complete characters reacting to a world or universe in dramatic flux, young adult literature gives us the constant in the form of the wide world and shows the dynamism in the developing character in response to that world" (448-49). Sanders concludes that YA scholarship has a "fascination with the relevance of the literature to young readers, a relevance often signaled by a text's attention to exactly the personal problems Mendlesohn mentions" (449).

Okay, okay, what about Feed? Now Feed is science fiction, but it's also dystopian fiction, which has some distinct purposes to other forms of sf, and it's also a satire, which again is its own genre. (And it's a love story, and probably some other genres too.) So where exactly does it fit within this (initialism-heavy) account of YA vs. sf vs. YASF? Interestingly, I think it kind of does both. If sf is outwardly focused and sf inwardly focused, there are ways in which Feed is very much inwardly focused: Titus and most of the other teens in Feed lead very limited lives, and do not think about the wider society in which they are embedded. And the story is extremely relevant, even moreso now in the smartphone era than it was on original publication in 2002; the behavior of the future teens is clearly modeled on the way actual teens behave. I've seen M. T. Anderson speak three times, and he mentioned that to write Feed and get the voice down, he read teen magazines for months, and I think it paid off.

But in Feed, there's a distinction between the characters and the reader. This is satire, after all: the reader is not meant to align with the viewpoint character in a way they are in a YA novel like The Outsiders or The Hero and the Crown or Holes. You're supposed to be turned off by the behavior of Titus and his friends. They may be inwardly focused, but the reader is encouraged to be outwardly focused. This differing orientation is aided by the snippets of feed that show us the wider political context for the novel's events, a context to which the characters pay little-to-no attention. These characters are, in Cadden's terms, "complete. Horrifyingly, terribly complete. Titus learns very little from his experiences (purposefully so, because it makes him uncomfortable), while the world he inhabits is indeed dynamic (in that it's decaying; dynamism doesn't have to be positive). So Feed manages to straddle both halves of the YASF divide, but this all could be because it's a dystopian satire and not some other form of YASF, which might struggle more with this.

I assigned Sanders's essay to my YA lit students alongside Feed, though I don't think it was the best: Sanders aims his article at sf scholars wanting to know more about YA, while I think my students would have benefited from one aimed at YA scholars wanting to know more about sf. Since teaching Feed I saw Farah Mendelsohn talk about science fiction at the Children's Literature Association conference, and she opined that YASF is often not very good in a way that is not true of YA fantasy. Which, anecdotally, feels true to me. It turns out that Mendlesohn actually has a book about YASF, The Inter-Galactic Playground; given how much I like her Rhetorics of Fantasy, I need to check it out to see if it has some good insights for next time I teach Feed.

28 November 2017

Return to Oz: The Emerald City of Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2014 (contents: 2013-2014)

Acquired and read September 2016
The Emerald City Oz
Adapted from the book by L. Frank Baum 

Writer: Eric Shanower
Artist: Skottie Young
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry

Emerald City is, as I recall, one of the weaker Oz novels, and this adaptation is thus kind of boring in itself, though it's not aided by the fact that while volumes 1-4 of the Marvel Oz comics each comprised eight issues, this one is only five. I'm sure there were good sales-related reasons for this, but I feel like it must have been a negative feedback loop: low sales lead to fewer issues leads to lower quality leads to lower sales. This awkward hodgepodge of a novel was probably never going to be great, but only about 100 pages to cover it makes it worse. There are two parallel stories: the Nome King plots an invasion of Oz while Dorothy travels to random places for no real reason. The characters are saved through luck and happenstance, while Dorothy's journeys are even more aimless than most, and she seems somewhat crueler than in Wonderful Wizard, with a very relaxed attitude towards causing damage, and a poor track record with respecting others. (She was politer when she was younger.)

from The Emerald City of Oz #1

Anyway, Shanower and Young do their best with the story they're given and the space they have-- one feels like Aunt Em vs. the Cowardly Lion would have got a whole page in the old days, but here it just nets three panels, alas. The creepy creatures General Guph visits during his recruiting drive are probably the best part, and it is nice to see Young get to draw almost everyone who's appeared in the series before one last time.

from The Emerald City of Oz #5

The real problem with this book is that it was the last one, and I'll never get to see Skottie Young draw my absolute favorite of Baum's original fourteen, The Patchwork Girl of Oz. That they could even have covered all of Baum's novels was always improbable, but surely they could have stretched to just one more. I have no doubt that Skottie and Scraps would have been a match made in heaven. Actually, he must have agreed, because he snuck Scraps into a variant cover for Road to Oz #1.

Next Week: Eric Shanower and Skottie Young might be done with Oz, but I'm not-- Trot and Cap'n Bill visit The Sea Fairies!

27 November 2017

Review: Black Canary: Kicking and Screaming by Brenden Fletcher, Annie Wu, Pia Guerra, et al.

A few reviews of Big Finish audio dramas to catch up on: the Fourth Doctor Adventures The Movellan Grave, The Skin of the Sleek, and The Thief Who Stole Time and all of the third series of Torchwood audios: Visiting Hours, The Dollhouse, Corpse Day, torchwood_cascade-CDRIP.tor (yes really!), The Office of Never Was, and The Dying Room. Whoa!

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2016 (contents: 2015-16)

Acquired July 2016
Read December 2016
Black Canary, Volume 1: Kicking and Screaming

Written by Brenden Fletcher
Art by Annie Wu, Pia Guerra, Sandy Jarrell
Color by Lee Loughridge
Letters by Steve Wands

I've been a fan of Black Canary since I first encountered Dinah in Green Arrow comics and fell in love. I followed her from there into Birds of Prey, which continued to develop her and her history-- but I felt she was immensely poorly served by the "New 52" reboot, which replaced her long history with a dull one. But from the moment I saw a cover of her New 52 solo series, I was excited. This looked like the Black Canary I knew, in that her visuals had returned to their fishnets-and-leather-jacket roots, but it also looked different, in that Dinah was now the punk-styled leader of an alternative band, spinning out of events in writer Brenden Fletcher's excellent Batgirl series.

And cue!
from Black Canary vol. 4 #1 (art by Annie Wu)

In Kicking and Screaming, Fletcher and artist Annie Wu create one of those perfect comics books, one that is wholly itself. It's hard to put into words how much I liked this, especially the first few issues, because there's nothing for me to compare it to-- this is the lone exemplar of the superhero-and-rock-band comic book. Panel after panel provides delights. Wu's Dinah is sexy and stylish without being objectified, and completely kick-ass. Usually too kick-ass, as the concerts of Black Canary (here the name of the band; Dinah is just "Dinah" or sometimes "D.D.") often end in violence when Dinah has to fight off government agents and/or protestors. Like I said, I've loved Dinah ever since I first encountered her, but this is the most I've loved her; she's everything I want my female superhero characters to be, violent and attractive and in charge.

24 November 2017

Review: Manhunter: Face Off by Marc Andreyko, Jeremy Haun, John Lucas, et al.

Earlier this year I read all the collected editions of DC's Manhunter ongoing (2004-09). Though all of the ongoing was collected, one more Manhunter collection was solicited but never published: Face Off* which would have collected the thirteen nine-page Manhunter backup strips that ran in Batman: Streets of Gotham for a year. I liked Manhunter enough, and wanted more closure than I got from the last volume of the ongoing, so I tracked down the issues of Streets of Gotham and read them.

It begins with Kate Spencer starting her third job: she's the new district attorney for Gotham City, an unthankful job if there ever was one, only it seems perfectly suited for the way Kate/Manhunter works as a character. Justice fails so much in Gotham that there will be plenty for her to do. She doesn't want to endanger Ramsey, though, so he stays back in L.A. with his father. The main thrust of this storyline is Kate's attempt to prosecute Two-Face for the murder of her predecessor (and, I guess, his successor) as D.A., which was carried out by "Jane Doe," a woman who can wear other people's skins, at his instigation. I think. There were definitely some jumps. I wasn't even sure when and how Kate figured out Two-Face was responsible for the murder, and the trial starts for some reason even though she actually has almost no evidence.

Clearly the story cuts off before Andreyko imagined it would, as his Manhunter stories always seemed to; Face Off ends without a resolution to the Two-Face trial, though there has been a mini-resolution when Jane Doe assaults Kate's family and is defeated. Still, I enjoyed returning to these characters-- moving the story to Gotham even allows Andreyko to tie up what happened to Dylan Battles, who went to Gotham in the aborted penultimate storyline from the ongoing. We also get Ramsey's discovery of his superpowers, setting the stage for him becoming a superhero in the "Some Years Later" epilogue.

Like I said, Gotham is a good fit for this series's sensibilities, and Andreyko gets some of his better artistic collaborators. Though there is a lot of switching off over the story's 117 pages (see below), I thought Jeremy Haun, who pencils a majority of it, was suited to the gritty tone of Manhunter and Gotham. I even liked the work of Georges Jeanty, whose poor childlike faces always threw me in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight-- whatever he did in those stories that I didn't like, he tones down here.

This is a decent, if incomplete, story, and I enjoyed reading it more than the last few "actual" Manhunter storylines. It deserved to be collected, so I'm glad I tracked it down. Kate only appeared on the cover once (issue #7, pictured above; the cover is by Dustin Nguyen, who drew the lead Batman feature in Streets of Gotham), and I'd guess the cover was commissioned so it could be used for the never-published collected edition. I assume the moment for any kind of Face Off collected edition has long passed, but maybe someday there will be a Kate Spencer, Manhunter Omnibus, where this would make a perfect inclusion between issues #36 and 37.

Manhunter: Face Off originally appeared in issues #1-13 of Batman: Streets of Gotham (Aug. 2009–Aug. 2010). The story was written by Marc Andreyko; pencilled by Georges Jeanty (#1-3), Jeremy Haun (#4-6, 8-11), Cliff Richards (#7), and Szymon Kudranski (#12-13); inked by Karl Story (#1, 3), Dexter Vines (#2), Jack Purcell (#3), Jeremy Haun (#4-5, 9), John Lucas (#6, 8, 10-11), Art Thibert (#7), and Szymon Kudranski (#12-13); colored by Nick Filardi; lettered by Sal Cipriano (#1-6, 8-13) and John J. Hill (#7); and edited by Janelle Siegel.

* Or Faceoff or Face-off: I saw all three versions on-line. I went with "Face Off" because that's the actual title of the story in issue #7.

21 November 2017

Return to Oz: Road to Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2013 (contents: 2012-13)

Acquired and read September 2016
Road to Oz
Adapted from the book by L. Frank Baum 

Writer: Eric Shanower
Artist: Skottie Young
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry

Sometimes an adaptation reveals hidden depths in the source material. At other times, it reveals just how thin the source material really was. Road to Oz does the latter to Baum's The Road to Oz: this is the dullest of journey narratives, completely lacking the sense of urgency and darkness that propelled Dorothy and the Wizard. In Road, Dorothy and company (she is joined by the Shaggy Man, Button-Bright, Polychrome, and Toto) simply shuffle from place to place... and the places just aren't that interesting. I mean, Skottie Young draws nice fox people, and I absolutely love his reinterpretations of Button-Bright and Polychrome, but there's no there there, and it feels like half the book is set beyond the danger anyway, with the characters just partying in Oz. I don't remember the original book being this bad, but to be honest, I didn't remember anything about it at all except for the guy with the sandboat, which was probably a bad sign.

from Road to Oz #2
Next Week: The whole family goes to Oz, in The Emerald City of Oz!

20 November 2017

Review: American Splendor: Unsung Hero by Harvey Pekar and David Collier

Comic trade paperback, 79 pages
Published 2003 (contents: 2002) 

Borrowed from the library
Read May 2017
Harvey Pekar's American Splendor: Unsung Hero: The Story of Robert McNeill

Writer: Harvey Pekar
Artist: David Collier

Later, Pekar would write Ego & Hubris, but I think this was his first extended non-autobiographical biographical comic. It covers the Vietnam wartime experiences of Robert McNeill, apparently a coworker of Perkar's judging by the (extremely light) frame sequences. The title seems inappropriate: this is a story about how Vietnam was not a place for heroes or heroism, but just dudes getting by in often terrible ways. The thing McNeill got a medal for turns out to be instigated by his attempt to avoid assigned duties. It's in that grittiness of war that this book really shines. McNeill isn't a good person, he's just a person, with all that entails, and Pekar presents his tale in his characteristically non-judgmental style. I found the discussion of race in the United States military during the war the most interesting part of the book, an aspect I knew little-to-nothing about prior to reading the book.

17 November 2017

Two Things I Was Wrong about When It Came to Star Trek: Discovery

Just over two years ago now, I reacted to the news about the new Star Trek tv show in development by writing a post informing you (yes, you) of six things you were wrong about. But now that the first "chapter" (half a season) is over, it turns out that I was wrong about a couple things, so I'm going to revisit that old post and eat my hat.

Things I claimed:
  1. It Was Going to Be Set in the "Abramsverse." While I was correct that the new show would not follow up any of the myriad things fans remembered from latter-day Deep Space Nine and Voyager episodes (it actually was not Captain Worf), I went on to claim, "New Star Trek should take advantage of the relatively blank canvas offered by a reality with only six hours of content to do something bold, new, and interesting that still feels like Star Trek. [...] Sure, in theory you could do this in the old universe, but there's a perception of baggage that the show is just better off without." Well, it turns out that the show was set in the old "Prime" universe after all! How did it deal with the baggage? Well, just by ignoring it! The aesthetics of Discovery hew pretty closely to those of what we now call the "Kelvin timeline" films (we did not have that convenient term in 2015, reader), and they certainly haven't felt restricted by small bits of canon: Klingon cloaking devices in 2255, why not!? I remain a little surprised by this. Other than the fact that the planet Vulcan still exists, I feel like this show hasn't done anything that wouldn't have fit in the Kelvin timeline, yet here we are.

    It turns out, though... that I actually kind of like that it's in the "old" universe. When this show reintroduces Harry Mudd, it's the "same" Harry Mudd I grew up watching, and that makes me smile. Maybe you can go home again.

  2. It Was Not Going to Be Terrible Despite Being Set In the Abramsverse. Basically this was a long argument about how being set in the same continuity as Abrams' films didn't mean it would have the same quality as them. (This was directed at Abrams haters.) So I guess technically this one ought to be rated "NOT APPLICABLE" since it wasn't set in that reality. If you read my full thing, though, it turns out that I was wrong anyway, because I said, "being set in the same continuity doesn't mean it'll have the same aesthetic, either. If you dislike the movies for being zippy action flicks, the television series is probably not going to be quite like that. (If nothing else, I bet they don't have the money.)"

    It turns out that 1) they weren't set in the same continuity but did have the same aesthetic, and 2) they did have the money because CBS is going all out on this thing. Thus arguably I still ended up wrong, but I refuse to ding up two misses already, so I'll stick with my technicality.

  3. It Was Going to Not Be Like Your Favorite Fanfilm. Finally one I definitely got right. No fanfilm I have watched has managed to play with the classic tropes and ideas of Star Trek like Discovery has. It did initially seem like it was going to be a grimdark war show with the Whole Federation At Stake (like a lot of fanfilms), and it's even plumbing the depths of the Federation-Klingon War (like a certain fanfilm in particular), but though that's definitely a major part of the show's background, it soon established itself to be a lot more varied, and more inventive, and less fannish than any fanfilm I have watched.

  4. Alex Kurtzman Not Being a Star Trek Fan Was Not Terrible. Well, I stand by this one. He's the credited co-creator, but my impression is that his involvement isn't that big. He has a co-story credit on the pilot, and that's it. I mean, he's executive producer so I'm sure everything passes through him at some point, but is he even in the writers' room breaking episodes? If the show is terrible, it's not because of Kurtzman's lack of fan credentials. (And it's not terrible.)

  5. They Should Not Bring Back Someone Who Worked on Old, "Real" Star Trek. Okay, I don't know if they should have, but they did. They brought back Bryan Fuller, who was a story editor, later executive story editor, later later co-producer on Voyager back in the day; he has story or script credits on twenty-two various episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, including triumphs like "Spirit Folk" (a holosimulation of Irish stereotypes takes over the ship) and "Fury" (Kes comes back... and she's pissed!). So I guess I was wrong.

    But I actually was excited, because in the two decades (what the heck!) between Voyager and Discovery, he went on to create Wonderfalls, one of my favorite tv shows, and also Pushing Daisies is pretty good. He may have cut his teeth on 1990s Star Trek, but I knew he would produce something utterly unlike it.

    But but despite being co-creator, he quit after three episodes: he's credited with co-story and co-script on the pilot, story on the second episode, and co-story on the third, and that's it because he's busy doing wacky Gaiman shit on American Gods. He still left his mark, though. Mainly in that the main character is a woman with a male name.

  6. You Would Be Able to Watch It Despite It Being on a Streaming Service. Um, okay, I'm technically wrong about this one too because there are good odds you aren't watching it because it's on a streaming service. And let's be honest, paying for ads is kind of dumb, but paying for that goddamn Xeljanz ad again and again is particularly dumb. (Xeljanz is an arthritis medication; I assume they're advertising it on Discovery because it sounds like a leftover Star Trek alien.) But the show has been good enough to be worth it, and let's be honest, my real reason for this entry in my original post was to go on a long rant about how watching Star Trek on CBS All Access couldn't be worse than watching Star Trek on UPN, and I was right about that, so I'm calling this one a win anyway.

Also Discovery is actually pretty good and pretty clever, but that's a different blog post.

16 November 2017

Review: Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy

Trade paperback, 296 pages
Published 1996 (originally 1882)
Acquired October 2012
Read January 2013
Two on a Tower: A Romance
by Thomas Hardy

Most of the major Victorian novelists, as I am fond of pointing out, wrote one scientist novel: Dickens, Eliot, Gaskell, Collins, Kingsley, Trollope. Thomas Hardy, I am even fonder of pointing out, wrote three. Two on a Tower, his 1882 astronomer romance, was the middle one, following his 1872 geologist romance A Pair of Blue Eyes and preceding his 1887 amateur naturalist romance The Woodlanders. If we were to trace a trajectory of Hardy's opinions on science as way of seeing across them (a somewhat risky critical move, perhaps), we see that Hardy grows more pessimistic across the fifteen years (as Hardy seemingly did about everything).

While science is largely incidental in A Pair of Blue Eyes and while the scientist in The Woodlanders is a monster, Two on a Tower is somewhere in between in its depiction of a romance between Swithin St. Cleeve, the young astronomer, and Lady Viviette Constantine, an older married woman. Swithin finds beauty in the stars, but his elevated vision struggles to see Viviette's beauty on Earth-- even though she sees his quite clearly. Then, when he does shift his perception in order to see her, he loses sight of the stars that gave him so much wonder. And this being Hardy, nothing can ever work out correctly. This is my favorite of Hardy's three scientist novels: you really want this romance to work out, but know it never can, and there's beautiful imagery and some great ideas. The universe is unforgiving, and so is Thomas Hardy.

14 November 2017

Return to Oz: Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2012 (contents: 2011-12)

Acquired September 2012
Read September 2016
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
Adapted from the book by L. Frank Baum 

Writer: Eric Shanower
Artist: Skottie Young
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry

Dorothy and the Wizard is probably my favorite of the original six Oz novels, partly I suspect, because it's the only one of those I owned as a kid in an edition with high-quality reproductions of the original illustrations: my others were either low-quality Del Rey editions without color (Ozma and Emerald City), poorly re-illustrated versions (Wizard and Marvellous Land), or just had no illustrations at all (Road)! So to me, the underground world of Dorothy and the Wizard has always seemed particularly lavish and detailed-- and, as a result, alien. This means it's, as always, well-suited to the illustration talents of Skottie Young.

from Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz #3

Dorothy and the Wizard is probably the darkest of the original six Oz novels. In the others, most of the people Dorothy meets are reasonably nice, and/or are evil thanks to external influence, and/or there's a clear end goal. For the most part, Dorothy and the Wizard lacks any of these: almost every environment Dorothy and her friends encounter is somewhere between actively hostile and completely indifferent, and there's no obvious destination for the group. There's no route to Oz that they're following, they're just trying to stay alive by moving onwards from each terrible place to another, hopefully-but-not-actually less terrible place. I wouldn't like it if every Oz novel was like this, but this one does what it does well.

from Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz #5

Its terrifying Mangaboos and Gargoyles give Young so much to work with, but as I came to realize when reviewing Ozma, he best shines with the "normal" animals, this one having Eureka, Dorothy's conceited kitten (but then, aren't they all?), and the Wizard's nine tiny piglets. Because of this, Shanower and Young even manage to rescue the book's extended coda about Eureka being on trial for murder. It drags in prose, but put Young's amazing rendering of Eureka at the center, and every moment of her attitude is a joy. Plus, Shanower even uses the opportunity to smooth over some hiccups in Baum's improvised history of Oz. Another Shanower and Young triumph.

from Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz #8
Next Week: Dorothy goes back to Oz, yet again in Road to Oz!

13 November 2017

Review: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Trade paperback, 325 pages
Published 2014 (originally 2013)

Acquired December 2014
Read November 2016
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

I read this as part of my ongoing project to read more books set in my hometown of Cincinnati. Calling Me Home alternates between two first-person narratives, one in the late 1930s in northern Kentucky (a fictional town outside Newport, which is right across the river from Cincinnati) about a white girl in love with a black man, and one in the present day in Texas, where that white girl (now grown up) is accompanied by her black hairdresser on a cross-country drive back to Cincinnati for a funeral.

It's okay. The present-day narrative is pretty boring, to be honest, as the hairdresser encounters racial microagressions and experiences some stereotypical drama with her teenage son and frets over her own romance. The past narrative was better, and really came alive for me at a couple key points, one of them being a short-lived reunification that the girl has with her black lover-- I really felt their desperation and their hunger. There are a couple twists, one of which is incredibly obvious (yet many reviewers on LibraryThing expressed surprise at it), but worked for me emotionally anyway.

There was the occasional slip-up. I don't think Kibler is very good at capturing the nuances of racism: her racist characters are all ridiculously evil people, while all of the nice characters are secretly not racist. Probably the worst part of the whole book was that the hairdresser learns a moral lesson from the flashback narrative that sounds like it came from a greeting card. Like, you just heard this tragic tale of racism, and that's what you take away from it?

Bonus Nitpick: As a Cincinnatian, I was happy to see a little bit of local color, like the street car, the incline, and chili parlors. But there was a pretty big research fail when a coney is described as a plain hot dog:

A coney has chili on it, c'mon! Kibler has obviously not ever eaten one (some Cincinnati chili recipes do include cocoa powder, but there's no way you would taste hints of chocolate), but at least she could have looked at a menu.

10 November 2017

Review: Top 10: Season Two by Zander Cannon, Gene Ha, et al.

After reading all the collected editions of Top 10, the Alan Moore-created superhero cop drama, I sought out the one uncollected Top 10 story, Season Two, which reunites the original Top 10 artistic team of Zander Cannon and Gene Ha, with Cannon taking over for Alan Moore as writer. (I also tracked down the other uncollected Top 10 stories, in America's Best Comics 64 Page Giant #1 and the confusingly titled ABC A-Z: Top 10 and Teams #1, but neither of those was interesting enough to write about.)

Before reading it, I was a little surprised by the title "Season Two," which seemed like a disavowal of the Top 10 follow-up by Paul Di Fillipo and Jerry Ordway, Beyond the Farthest Precinct, as if they were saying the Alan Moore run was "season one" and now there was this, nothing else. However, once I started reading it, I realized that the title is actual a signal of its chronological placement-- Beyond the Farthest Precinct took place five years after the original run, whereas this starts right after it, simultaneous to the events chronicled in Smax. (Which is somewhat a weak point, because Toybox was very much the heart of Top 10, and Jeff Smax one of its funner characters, and they're both off in a fantasy world.)

Season Two seems promising at first. Cannon is a better writer of these characters than Ordway was, weaving together some fun superhero concepts into a crime framework; I really liked the idea of a dealer who's not selling kids drug, but magic words along the lines of "Shazam!" This subplot was complete with a burnt out magic user trying to go straight by informing the cops, but he keeps backsliding. Another character's husband has been assuming a new superhero identity on the side-- she cries that he's not the man she married, and ends up enrolling him in a seminar to get in touch with his real alter ego. Meanwhile, a new commissioner has been installed, and he's not very happy with what he sees at Top 10. Plus he's making them all wear uniforms!

Also: Girl One, the bio-engineered cop who died in the original run, is replaced by Girl Two. I was curious where this was going to go, because in Beyond the Farthest Precinct, a new "Girl 54" was introduced, which everyone was weirdly blasé about, one of the major defects of that series. Was Cannon overwriting that, or laying the groundwork to explain it better? It's one of many things we'll never know because the story of Top 10 isn't complete, it just suddenly stops at the end of issue #4.

It is followed by Season Two Special #1, which I had thought would wrap everything up (even if abruptly), but was actually a standalone done-in-one Top 10 story tying into the events of Season Two. Confusingly, Girl Two is no longer a cop in it, but a public defender, and she's dating one of the members of the force, Pete, something the main series was moving towards. The issue begins with a "TWO WEEKS FROM NOW" caption that must refer to the special's placement with respect to the rest of Season Two; I guess these changes were where Cannon's story was headed. This story's okay-- I do like Girl Two, though the conspiracy she unravels was a bit abstruse for me.

It's all a bit disappointing. I mean, I'm sure there were good sales-related reasons for the cancellation, but to not even get through a whole limited series is kind of pathetic. Moore's original Top 10 seemed like the kind of thing that could run and run; for it to just get twelve issues, a prequel, a disappointing sequel, and a cancelled sequel is sad. Still, it was nice while it lasted. Gene Ha is always good value for money as an artist, and Daxiong shows promise with his art on the special, too. Top 10 had a great, inventive premise-- colliding the anarchic genre of the superhero with the regimented one of the police procedural-- and it's a shame that more couldn't have been done with it. If you really liked Top 10, this is worth seeking out, but be forewarned that you'll get exactly no closure on everything set up within it.

Top 10: Season Two originally appeared in Top 10: Season Two #1-4 (Dec. 2008–Mar. 2009) and Top 10: Season Two Special #1 (May 2009). The story was scripted and laid out by Zander Cannon with Kevin Cannon; penciled and inked by Gene Ha (#1-4) and Daxiong (Special #1); colored by Alex Sinclair (#1-4) and Tony Avina (#3); lettered by Todd Klein (#1-4) and Rob Leigh (Special #1); and edited by Scott Dunbier (#1-4), Scott Peterson (#1-4/Special #1), and Kristy Quinn (Special #1).

09 November 2017

Voice and Genre in Young Adult Literature: Holes (1998)

Mass market paperback, 222 pages
Published 2015 (originally 1998)
Acquired November 2016

Read February 2017
Holes by Louis Sachar

I have a friend-- herself much more of a young adult literature scholar than I-- who, when she found out that I was assigning Holes in my YA literature class, objected strongly. Holes is not young adult, she said, it's middle grade. And indeed, if you look at the back of my copy it indicates "Ages 10 & up," and ten years is definitely below the somewhat fuzzy middle grade/young adult barrier. I couldn't muster much of a defense of it myself, having not actually read it prior to assigning it, but having had a hole to plug (I needed a male-written YA novel published in the 1990s to balance out my course) and finding it on a list.

Once I read it, though, I realized that age range aside, it's definitely young adult fiction. Something I talk about a lot is the difference between the features and the projects of genres, and Holes, I would argue, has the project of young adult fiction. Or, at least, one of them. In her book Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature (2000), Roberta Seelinger Trites argues that "[t]he chief characteristic that distinguishes adolescent literature from children's literature is the issue of how social power is deployed during the course of the narrative. In books that younger children read [...] much of the action focuses on one child who learns to feel more secure in the confines of her or his environment, usually represented by family and home" (2-3). But in the YA novel, Trites continues, "protagonists must learn about the social forces that have made them what they are. They learn to negotiate the levels of power that exist in the myriad social institutions within which they must function" (3).

Holes is all about power. Stanley confronts all sort of social forces during his time at Camp Green Lake: race, class, childhood, prison, probably many more you can think of (and my students did). And in complicated ways, too-- Stanley is accused of being racist when he uses the labor of a black child, Zero, to relieve his own (in exchange for which he teaches Zero how to read). Was Stanley wrong? Were his accusers? I don't think there are any good answers here; what's more important is how Stanley becomes aware of an entire dimension of racial power of which he was previously unaware. Trites says that "the YA novel teaches adolescents how to exist within the (capitalistically bound) institutions that necessarily define teenagers' existence" (19).

Stanley doesn't just learn about institutions, but he learns how to operate within them to get what he wants. And this goes to Trites' other take on power: it's also "the force that allows for subjectivity and consequently, agency" (5). Your internal power allows you to act. And that's one of the big trajectories of Holes: Stanley starts out seemingly powerless, but as the novel goes on, he finally learns how to act, how to do something instead of having things done to him, and that's how he saves the day. So, in terms of its concerns, I think Holes is much more YA than children's.

In fact, considering Trites's theory of power and YA literature allows us to solve one of the novel's complexities. Something my students were really into was whether the curse placed on the Yelnats family was real or not. It seems real, given that when Stanley solves the historical injustice, the land is regenerates (shades of what Farah Mendlesohn says in Rhetorics of Fantasy, and indeed, the climax of Holes bears some traces of what she calls the portal-quest fantasy). But the narrator deliberately casts doubt on the reality of the curse, and coincidence is a perfectly plausible explanation for the events of the novel, too. When this kind of discussion arises, my inclination is to redirect, away from asking which is real? toward why create the ambiguity? Hopefully it's there for a reason other than just love of ambiguity, and I would argue that in the case of Holes, it is.

By introducing the idea of a curse, Sachar can literalize the kind of institutional power and make it visible: the curse is classism and racism in action, distant institutions turned into concretized force. We can see the real effect these powers have on the world in general, and Stanley and Zero in particular. On the other hand, were the curse to be clearly real, that would remove its power as a symbol, Stanley wouldn't be fighting an institution, but magic, and he would have no real reason to assume personal responsibility (as Trites's formulation tells us he must) because the curse would have predetermined his life. Leaving the curse ambiguous creates a sweet spot, where we know there's something real out there working against Stanley, but it's not no powerful that it can defeat him.

08 November 2017

Audio Catch-Up: Fourth Doctor Adventures, H. G. Wells, and Torchwood

It's been a while, and I don't have a post to run this Wednesday, so here's my recent witterings on Big Finish audio dramas.
  • Vivisection run amok in Big Finish Classics: The Island of Doctor Moreau. "Fundamentally, I suspect, this is a story whose horror is ill-suited to audio."
  • Evolution run amok with the fourth Doctor in Doctor Who: Dethras. "There’s also a lot of rattling off of cod-scientific terms, in the fashion of the era that gave us 'chronic hysteresis' and 'block transfer computation'."
  • Seances with the fourth Doctor in Doctor Who: The Haunting of Malkin Place. "Sound designer Jamie Robertson does a great job with the sound, especially the séance, which was unsettling even though I listened to the story in broad daylight while commuting to work!" 
  • The deepest of time in Big Finish Classics: The Time Machine. "I mostly know [Ben] Miles from his role as Patrick on Coupling, which is about as far from the erudite Time Traveller as you can get, but he comes across as the quintessential Victorian amateur scientist here."
  • The fourth Doctor meets mole-men(!) in Doctor Who: Subterranea. "Way back in the day, Big Finish did The Sandman, which really used its distinctive setting of a migratory space fleet called 'the Clutch' to good effect; I think that if this had done the same, it could have been a minor classic."
  • There's sex plagues, domestic killings, gig economy apps, and police violence in Torchwood: Aliens Among Us 2. "Andy has always been as steady as a rock in his own way [...] so listening to him as his world disintegrates is just so desperately sad."

I've moved slowly and fallen behind in my audio listening the past couple years, but now spending 70+ minutes in the car every day commuting, plus however much other listening time I get in, means I've been moving much faster through my backlog. Maybe someday I'll catch up! The problem now isn't listening to them, it's writing them up.

07 November 2017

Return to Oz: Ozma of Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2011 (contents: 2011)

Acquired August 2012
Read September 2016
Ozma of Oz
Adapted from the novel by L. Frank Baum 

Writer: Eric Shanower
Artist: Skottie Young
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry

Ozma of Oz is a bit of an oddity in the first six Oz novels: moreso than Marvelous Land, even, it's driven by plot, eschewing Baum's usual rambling journey narrative. After some independent misadventures in Ev (where she meets Billina and Tik-Tok), Dorothy links up with Ozma and sets off with her Royal Army on a mission to rescue the Royal Family of Ev from the Nome King. The book is one of Baum's better ones, and it's even better, I would argue, in the hands of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young, as like Marvelous Land, it introduces a whole new set of strange-looking characters for Skottie Young to draw the hell out of: his Tik-Tok is stalwart, his Wheelers are terrifying, his Nomes are wispy.

from Ozma of Oz #1

My favorite, though, was Billina-- Young always does a good job with the characters who are conventional animals (like the Cowardly Lion in Wonderful Wizard or Eureka in Dorothy and the Wizard), I think partially because we all know what, say, a chicken looks like, so he can get more expressive in the design in a way that he can't with a woggle-bug. His Billina is wonderfully sardonic, annoyed and unimpressed by the world she travels through and the company she is forced to keep.

from Ozma of Oz #7

I also like how Young handles Ozma: it's easy to forget in the novels that Ozma is a kid, and one only recently come into her true identity as royalty at that. Young makes sure you remember this: when she shouts, it looks like a kid trying to get her way. She's no less a princess, but it injects a certain amount of realism, even if via Young's cartoony style.

from Ozma of Oz #4
Next Week: Dorothy meets an old friend and makes some terrifying acquaintances in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz!

06 November 2017

Review: Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published 1940 (contents: 1937-39)
Borrowed from the library
Read August 2016
Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther

A couple years ago, casting about for short fiction to teach in my class on British literature from 1890 to 1950, I took a friend's recommendation of this book, which chronicles the life of one family in the years leading up to World War II. I skimmed around it a bit, selected eight likely-looking chapters, scanned them, and assigned them to my class. Sometime later, as part of a project to watch all the films of every book I taught that semester, I watched the two films based on the book, Mrs. Miniver (1942) and The Miniver Story (1950). (The first one is pretty good; the second one not as much.) But I hadn't read the book, and that seemed like a thing I ought to do, and now I finally have.

Mrs. Miniver is, as Professor Tom Recchio calls Cranford, an "accidental novel." It was originally a single newspaper column, "Mrs. Miniver Comes Home," in the Times of London on October 6, 1937. It was successful enough to warrant further accounts of Mrs. Miniver and her upper-middle-class family in Chelsea (with a home in the country); there were a total of thirty-six columns published up to September 29, 1939, three weeks after the U.K. declared war on Germany. This, though, is what makes it fascinating. The war breaks in on this family by accident, much as it would have in real life. Mrs. Miniver did not begin life as a novel, and it did not begin life as a war story-- it was a simple series of domestic sketches. But it became a war story because as the 1930s rolled on, everyone's domestic story became a war story.

So there's no foreshadowing or anything. At the beginning, it's just domestic observations from Mrs. Miniver as her husband buys a new car, or Christmas day rolls around, or they see fireworks on Guy Fawkes day, or she tries to figure out how you deal with a married couple where you only like one of its members, or they drive up to Scotland to see the Highland Games. There are lots of cute observations on what marriage is like, or on what other people's marriages are like, or on the fact that if someone is "terribly fond of children," a kid never actually knows where they stand with such a person! I really like what Mrs. Miniver observes on the morning of Christmas 1937, as her children go at the contents of their stockings way too early in the morning: "There were sounds of movement in the house; they were within measurable distance of the blessed chink of early morning tea. Mrs. Miniver looked towards the window. The dark sky had already paled a little in its frame of cherry-pink chintz. Eternity framed in domesticity. Never mind. One had to frame it in something, to see it at all."

But then, all of a sudden it's September 28, 1938, Germany is about to annex the Sudetenland, it seems like war is imminent, and Mrs. Miniver has to take her children to get fitted for gas masks just in case. From that point on, the coming war is a shadow that hangs over the domestic life of the Minivers. You couldn't have planned this, and that's why it works so well. The previously idyllic life of the Minivers has been disturbed by a phenomenon they hadn't predicted, and Mrs. Miniver is hoping that this war can go better than the last one: "if the worst came to the worst, these children would at least know that we were fighting against an idea, and not against a nation"-- they need to guard against war-time's "slow, yellow, drifting corruption of the mind."

The war brings out the best in the nation, Mrs. Miniver argues, but in a way that's a bit disappointing. She writes in a letter to her sister-in-law, after the declaration of war: "I can think of a hundred ways already in which the war has 'brought us to our senses.' But it oughtn't to need a war to make a nation paint its kerbstones white, carry rear-lamps on its bicycles, and give all its slum children a holiday in the country. And it oughtn't to need a war to make us talk to each other in buses, and invent our own amusements in the evenings, and live simply, and eat sparingly, and recover the use of our legs, and get up early enough to see the sun rise. However, it has needed one: which is about the severest criticism our civilization could have." And it doesn't bring out the best in everyone, either; she recounts talking to a woman who won't promise to billet London children in her country house because it will upset the servants, who says, "Even if the worst does come to the worst, you must make it quite clear to the authorities that I can only accept Really Nice Children."

The book ends, as I said before, shortly after the declaration of war on Germany, with a letter from Mrs. Miniver to her sister-in-law. But apparently Jan Struther did continue to story of Mrs. Miniver and family, with five more dispatches published in the Times during the war, but as the edition I got from the library is from 1940, it doesn't include. You can read the whole book in an authorized e-edition, however, on the University of Pennsylvania website, and I should get around to reading those five later chapters soon.

The columns in the Times were wildly popular. When I was skimming the Times digital archive to examine the book in its original context, I found a number of letters from adoring fans. Many speculated on Mrs. Miniver's first name, which wasn't revealed until the 29 Sept. 1939 column. My favorite of the letters I found, however, was this one: [Clem is Mrs. Miniver's husband, Vin and Toby sons.]

The relationship between the book and the film is actually kind of weird, because the film begins shortly before the war and goes through its first couple years. In that way, it's actually more like a sequel to the book than an adaptation of it, because it's entirely about coping with wartime life. However, the details don't line up perfectly-- the Minivers' class status is downgraded in the film a bit, apparently to make things more palatable to American audiences. The Minivers ride out an attack in a bomb shelter, Mr. Miniver participates in the evacuation of Dunkirk, a downed German flier breaks into the Miniver home (the film Mrs. Miniver is less sympathetic to him than I think the novel one would be), and so on. The first film doesn't really line up with the second, either; one of the kids somehow hasn't got any older, another has got a lot older, and a third has completely vanished! But the first film is really good (it won six Academy Awards), and I highly recommend it. You'll also get to discover that Julian Fellowes plagiarized a Downton Abbey subplot from it.

About a week after I wrote this review, I read the five WWII-era installments of Mrs. Miniver on my Kindle. They're okay-- worth tracking down if your edition doesn't include them. The first is the best, a story of Mrs. Miniver working on her Christmas list, but this time there is a passel of refugee children along as well, many of whom never had a Christmas tree before. The other four are more letters from Mrs. Miniver to her sister-in-law; the worst of these is the last one, which is a very defensive over-explanation of her second-last letter, explaining why she was not overlooking members of the lower classes. I suspect Struther had received a lot of angry letters.

03 November 2017

Doctor Who: In Their Own Words: An Oral History

Alongside my recent reading of Telos's three Talkback books, I also read Doctor Who Magazine's six In Their Own Worlds collections. Talkback reprints old interviews with Doctor Who contributors in their entirety; In Their Own Words takes bits of interviews from DWM over the years and integrates them, oral history-style. Like, while Talkback might reprint a ten-page interview with Andrew Cartmel verbatim, In Their Own Words would excerpt it and juxtpose it with quotations from interviews by Sylvester McCoy, John Nathan-Turner, and so on.

The effect is one that's much more story-driven than Talkback. Though I really enjoyed both, and Talkback had the advantage of being able to go in-depth, the story that emerges gave the advantage to In Their Own Words for me.

Though they're all good, the 1963-69 one is very good: it has a nice narrative thrust to it, as you see Doctor Who emerge from nothing into a smash-hit across the course of a year. More than most other things I'm into (Star Trek, Star Wars), Doctor Who isn't the work of a single person, but the triumph of the committee, and the oral history approach really makes that clear. You wouldn't have Doctor Who without Sydney Newman or Anthony Coburn or Verity Lambert or David Whitaker, but you also wouldn't have Doctor Who with only Sydney Newman or Anthony Coburn or Verity Lambert or David Whitaker; there are no Gene Roddenberrys or George Lucases here. I kind of suspect that when Mark Gatiss wrote the script for the 50th-anniversary docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time he did it with a copy of this volume at his side, because its emphases and beats match his almost precisely.

The 1970-76 one is also good; one thing I liked about the series is that its periodization is logical, but also unusual. Most people divide up the show by decade, or by Doctor. Obviously you have to periodize it somehow, but that means you either lump the approaches of Barry Letts, Philip Hinchcliffe, and Graham Williams all together under the rubric of "the 1970s" or you split Barry Letts off on his own as "the Jon Pertwee years." Here, Letts and Hinchcliffe occupy the same volume, while Williams and the early John Nathan-Turner stuff fit into another. Doctor Who is a show of continuous change, but those changes are often but not always gradual; 1970-76 is a good period for showing that.

The 1977-81 volume was probably my favorite other than the first volume. The behind-the-scenes of the Graham Williams years is the producership I knew the least about, and then John Nathan-Turner's first year/Tom Baker's last/Christopher H. Bidmead's only was a period of great tumult and big ideas. The volume only covers only five years, but these years of the program reward that level of depth. The excerpts get a little more personal here than they do elsewhere-- I was constantly reading my wife what Tom Baker and Lalla Ward said about each other and their very brief marriage, and Matthew Waterhouse's comments about Adric have to be read to be believed. (He thinks he would have been a punk rocker!) Seasons Eighteen and Nineteen are one of my favorite periods of the show, and I was delighted with the coverage they received here.

On the other hand, there was less that was new to me in the 1982-86 and 1987-96 volumes. The production of The Trial of a Time Lord and the Sylvester McCoy era is something I know a lot about already. It's nice to see it all in order, but there was nothing as revelatory as in the earlier volumes. Though, I loved the inclusions from Gary Downie, production manager in the 1980s and boyfriend of John Nathan-Turner, whose memory of events almost always disagrees with every other party's! The 1982-86 volume did reinforce my belief that though Eric Saward was a good writer, he was a rotten script editor. (Doctor Who's worst?)

On the other hand, this was probably the most in-depth account of the production of the 1996 television movie I'd ever read, so that was nice. I appreciate that attention was given to what happened when Doctor Who was off the air, with discussion of the Virgin New Adventures, Downtime, Big Finish, The Ultimate Adventure, and so on-- some nice tidbits in there, too.

The last volume wasn't bad, but it was perhaps the least interesting since it wasn't even presenting old information in a new order; it was presenting old information in an old order, as 1997-2009 is the first period of Doctor Who you can say I lived through! Also, not enough time has passed, so the kind of frank comments the contributors can make about 1963-89 can't be made here yet. The definitive story of Christopher Eccleston's only series, alas, is yet to be told. Yet this volume did hit my nostalgia buttons, making me miss Russell T Davies and want to watch series 1-4 of the revival all over again.

Benjamin Cook did a great job in compiling the quotations, and Peri Godbold's design work makes them things of beauty. It's a shame that because they're magazines, not books, they don't have any kind of permanence (it took me years to track down a copy of volume two, since I only started collecting with volume three), as they deserve to be read by any Doctor Who fan who really likes the behind-the-scenes history of the programme.

02 November 2017

Review: The Birth of the Clinic by Michel Foucault

Trade paperback, 215 pages
Published 1994 (originally 1963)
Acquired May 2013
Read December 2014
The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception
by Michel Foucault

This Foucault monograph charts the emergence of what we might call "scientific medicine" across the eighteenth century, a way of seeing the body that is more rational and systematic than what came before. Of course, since this is Foucault, it's all about politics and power, and he both invents new words and redefines old ones and alternates between the deeply profound and the frustratingly obscure, and spends a lot of time telling you that things are the way he says they are without doing what a contemporary Anglophone critic might consider the necessary legwork to back it up. But it's all about cultivating a way of seeing that is ethically superior to the untrained eye, making it basically my jam. So: use with caution.

Some random points of interest and my thoughts:
  • Like a lot of scientific sight, the vision of what Foucault calls the "clinic" purports that to see things as they are, you need an understanding of theories first: "Clinical medicine is not, therefore, a medicine concerned only with the first degree of empiricism, seeking to reduce, by some kind of methodical scepticism, all its knowledge and teaching to observation of the visible alone. At this first stage, medicine is not defined as clinical unless it is also defined as encyclopedic knowledge of nature and knowledge of man in society" (72).
  • Foucault draws a distinction between different forms of scientific sight in the realm of medicine: "The practice required of the officer of health was a controlled empiricism: a question of knowing what to do after seeing; experience was integrated at the level of perception, memory, and repetition, that is, at the level of the example." Theory doesn't help you treat simple illnesses, experience does. On the other hand, "In the clinic, it was a question of a much more subtle and complex structure in which the integration of experience occurred in a gaze that was at the same time knowledge, a gaze that exists, that was master of its truth, and free of all example, even if at times it had made use of them" (81-2).
  • Sometimes Foucault makes my points so straightforwardly it makes me wonder if I have any point of my own to make at all: "'One must, as far as possible, make science ocular'. So many powers, from the slow illumination of obscurities, the ever-prudent reading of the essential, the calculation of times and risks, to the master of the heart and the majestic confiscation of paternal authority, are just so many forms in which the sovereignty of the gaze gradually establishes itself-- the eye that knows and decides, the eye that governs" (88-9).
  • Also consistent with my own interests is the idea that seeing humans scientifically is quite difficult: "Medicine as an uncertain kind of knowledge is an old theme [...]. It was to be found, reinforced by recent history, in the traditional opposition between the art of medicine and the knowledge of inert things: 'The science of man is concerned with too complicated an object, it embraces a multitude of too varied facts, it operates on too subtle and too numerous elements always to give the immense combinations of which it is capable the uniformity, evidence, and certainty that characterize the physical sciences and mathematics'*" (96-7).
  • Foucault discusses the different forms observation takes in the clinic; one way that it manifests is not in the sight of the eye per se but in asking questions to build observations. Foucault describes one four-stage method of observation: first you observe with the eye, question the patient about what they feel, and re-observe; second, you ask general questions about the patient's past; third, you observe over time, as the disease progresses; and last, you prescribe during convalescence. "In this regular alternation of speech and gaze, the disease gradually declares its truth [...]. [T]he questionnaire without the examination and the examination without the interrogation were doomed to an endless task: it belongs to neither to fill the gaps within the province of the other" (112). This actually reminds me a lot of the method of detection Arthur Conan Doyle would perfect in the Sherlock Holmes stories-- you must both ask questions and see carefully to find truth.
I do kind of wonder what was wrong with my dissertation committee, that no one ever told me to read this book when I was in grad school. Like, generally, if you're an academic and Foucault has written on your topic of interest, you're obligated to know about it, even if so you can justify not using it. I eventually picked it up on my own, and dropped an unconvincing passing reference in a footnote in my introduction. Hey, if they didn't care whether I'd read Foucault, neither did I.
    * Foucault is here quoting the French doctor Charles-Louis Dumas's Discours sur les progrès futurs de la science de l'homme (1804).

    01 November 2017

    Reading Roundup Wrapup: October 2017

    Pick of the month: The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson. One of those months where I didn't particularly love anything, but this provided a couple hours' solid enjoyment.

    All books read:
    1. The Transformers, Volume 8 by John Barber
    2. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
    3. The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson
    4. Transformers: Windblade: Distant Stars by Mairghread Scott
    5. Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions by David Mack
    6. Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack
    7. Doctor Who: Sirgwain and the Green King by Justin Richards
    8. Monstress, Volume One: Awakening by Marjorie Liu
    9. 42 Miles by Tracie Vaughn Miller
    10. Monstress, Volume Two: The Blood by Marjorie Liu

    All books acquired:
    1. The Legion by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Volume 1 by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
    2. Monstress, Volume Two: The Blood by Marjorie Liu
    3. Paper Girls 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
    4. Paper Girls 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
    5. Paper Girls 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
    6. The Broken Earth, Book Three: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

    Books remaining on "To be read" list: 646 (no change)
    Books remaining on "To review" list: 22 (up 3)