Saturday, April 30, 2016

This Week in Reading

Judge Not, by Patricia Flewwelling & Jonathon Parker, COMPLETED.
Thuvia, Maid of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, pages 1 – 62.
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, COMPLETED.

Amazing Spider-Man 8
Doctor Who: Twelfth Doctor 15 & 16
Ms Marvel 16 – 19
Ms Tree Quarterly 5 & 8
Shade, the Changing Man 1 – 4
Tom & Jerry 242
Underworld Unleashed tie-in: Apokolips #1, Lobo #22, R.E.B.E.L.S. ’95 #13, and Robin #24.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Podcast Marathon

No Exams Scheduled Today = Podcast Marathon!  Here is what I listened to yesterday:

Comic Book Noise #688. In this episode, host Derek Coward talked about the many characters who have died in the long history of the comic book Legion of Superheroes.

Deconstructing Comics #437: I started listening to this podcast a few months ago, and am still more than a year behind. I enjoy the range of what is discussed on this podcast, as well as the international flavor. This episode covered "Real," a manga about basketball, physical disabilities, and relationships.

DH Unplugged #310. This is a terrific business and stock market podcast. Discussion in this episode includes Apple's recent poor financial results.

Jaig Eyes And Jedi #14. Hosts Hope and Chris talk about the episode "Jedi Crash," from the first season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The Parliament of Rooks #4. Another show I recently discovered, this one features a married couple talking about all things magic and mysterious in the DC Universe. This episode covered old House of Secrets issues, featuring the characters Mark Merlin and Eclipso.

Trentus Magnus Punches Reality #145: Trentus is continuing to talk about Marvel's Civil War. In this episode specifically, he covers the X-Men issues that tied into the event.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

This Week in Reading

Judge Not, by Patricia Flewwelling & Jonathon Parker, pages 144 – 242.
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, pages 1 – 113.

Constantine the Hellblazer 11
DC Comics Bombshell 11
Doctor Who: Twelfth Doctor 11 – 14
Donald Duck: The Pixalated Parrot, hardcover collection, pages 112 – 210. COMPLETED.
Flashpoint: Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown 1 – 3.
Flashpoint: Grodd of War one-shot
Starfire 11
Ultra-Klutz 10 – 14

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review of Warlord of Mars

Book #14. The Warlord of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Nook.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first two John Carter novels that I read, A Princess of Mars and The Gods of Mars. But this one did contained neither the same amount of action nor of world-building that those prior Barsoom novels did.

At the end of the prior novel, John Carter’s wife Princess Dejah Thoris (along with two other women) is imprisoned in the Temple of the Sun by Issus. It is said one has to wait an entire Barsoomian year before the room the prisoner is in revolves back to the entrance. But that cliffhanger is quickly resolved, Carter’s sole mission in this novel is rescuing his wife.

Burroughs does give this short novel an epic sweep, sending Carter all over the planet tracking down this wife’s captors, to both take vengeance of them and free her. Some of the battle set-pieces were strong, but there was a sense of repetition going on, of simply moving from one action scene to another similar action scene.

I love the mix of genres at work in these novels, as well as Burroughs’ word choices, both of which are mostly bcause of the era in which this books were written, the 1910s. There is an innocence and purity in Carter’s motivations that I appreciate. Despite the quibbles I have with this particular novel, I continue to enjoy the series, and expect to read the next one shortly.

Source: I read this on my Nook, having downloaded the copy from Project Gutenberg. While I appreciate Project Gutenberg’s commitment to make copyright-free works available digitally, I have to say that the text of this book was riddled with mistakes, probably more than one per page. Whether it was scanned or typed in, the data input process was very weak.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

This Week in Reading

Judge Not, by Patricia Flewwelling & Jonathon Parker, pages 108 – 144.
Mister Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan, COMPLETED. Review here.
The Warlord of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, COMPLETED.

Doctor Who: Twelfth Doctor 6 – 10
Donald Duck: The Pixalated Parrot, hardcover collection, pages 90 – 112.
Machine Man 1 – 4
Ms Marvel 10 – 15
S.H.I.E.L.D. #2
Trekker omnibus, pages 263 – 288 (*)
The Unforgottens: Mission of Tranquillity #1

(*) covering “Thicker than Blood.” Ruth and Darrin Sutherland covered this story in detail on episode 16 of the excellent podcast Trekker Talk.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review of Mister Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store

Book #13. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. Unabridged audio. 

Back in 2009, I listened to the short story “Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four Hour Book Store” when it appeared on the Escape Pod podcast. It was one of my favorite stories from that podcast, and when I saw this in the library, I had to give it a listen. The novel was very well-reviewed, landing on “best of” lists from the San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times. It also hit the NYT Best Sellers List.

The novel is more than just an expansion of the original story, telling a substantially different tale. Clay is a laid-off Silicon Valley tech guy who works at an odd old bookstore. The store has very few customers, and many of the ones that do wander in are quite strange. He uses skills with technology, and those of a cute Google-er named Kat, start discover secrets about the patrons, and about the bookstore. And it all leads to a confrontation with a 500-year-old secret society.

This is a magical realism story, taking place in a world that resembles our, but varies in ways that are oddly beneficial to Clay and his quest. There are helpful coincidences along the way, and the portrayal of Kat as a borderline “manic pixie dreamgirl” are issues that I had with the book. But the sense of adventure, the setting, and the characters all combine to make this a very entertaining read.

The theme of the difficulty of transitioning from old to new technology is strong in this novel. There is a recognition of both the loss and the gain that technology brings. And as powerful as the technology created by Google and others can be, the secret to unlocking the puzzle presented in the novel lies in the old way of doing things. And at my age, I don’t mind that message.