|Books read in 2017 # 130-136 - Just clearing out the queue
||[Sep. 27th, 2017|06:11 pm]
130. The Orsinian Tales by Ursula Le Guin - So I read a bunch of books over Rosh Hashana but I read a lot of books before Rosh Hashana. In fact, I was sitting on these books and this book and the next one was going to go under the heading "short stories" because they embodied what most short story anthologies do which is to have a few good ones but a lot of meh stories. This is also a book that I quit reading, gave to a woman who used to come to the deli to read. She loved it so I gave it another chance and it's still pretty boring. The one story that stands out is the story of a man who encounters the same woman three times in his life. First, he is her suitor and he is impressed by her insistence on never getting married. Then he is a soldier for a usurper and she is the last holdout for the old king. He makes a deal with her brother to fool her into escaping and no one feels good about it. Again he is impressed, too impressed, like she is this shining beacon of independence that even he can't approach. And then finally he meets her when he is 70. He has been a soldier all of his life becoming a hero by putting out all the civil wars and uniting the country. She is a matronly grandmother. He is disappointed in her because she did get married and had children and attended dinner parties. She is bemused by him because he is a reminder of her youthful extremism. Since the story is from his perspective, he thinks that she should have died died a long time ago. There are other stories in this thing. Some are too long and some are quite good. It all takes place in the same European country at different times. |
131. The Silver Age World's Finest, volume 1 by Various - So Batman and Superman really have no reason to hang out beyond the fact that they are both flagship heroes. This is a problem that has plagued the DC universe for years, but I was amused to see that their first adventure where they are stuck together on a cruise ship and learn about each other's secret identities was retold almost beat for beat in either the New 52 or the latest DC big housecleaning gambit. Anyhow the big thing that struck me is that calling certain eras in comic books Golden or Silver is seriously a misnomer. Golden Age is all crime fighting while Silver Age is goofy shit. So instead of Batman punching out criminals with bad pop psych (Two Face was literally driven mad from being ugly on one side of his face. All he needs is a facelift and he's cool - only the main plastic surgeon is stuck in Germany in a Concentration Camp - nope I don't think they realized how dark that was) he is playing to a host of time travelers and goofy clowns and the Riddler. With Superman in the mix, there's a lot of switching places or shenanigans where Batman and Superman are flirting with the same woman (but it's really a trick) while Lois Lane really seems like a very bad investigative journalist if she can't figure out Superman's secret identity. Some of these stories are fun but I had to read it slowly (I renewed it 10 times before I had to take it back to the library) because you can't read that many dumb Silver Age stories at once. Beyond Will Eisner, there don't seem to be many good stories coming out of these eras. But they are distinctive.
132. Flash vol 2: Speed of Darkness by I don't know - Why did I even include this one? It was ok but there was nothing memorable since it's the same crap about Barry Allen trying to mentor the younger Flash who is the nephew to his not-yet-girlfriend because reset button. There's a cool story about a former villain trying to make things right but yeah, this was largely forgettable shit and really nothing to even remember. Comic books like to hit the reset button but it gets real old to have to read the same fucking stories about a superhero's love life with the same woman that have been so done to death.
133.Before Watchmen: Minutemen & Silk Spectre by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Connor - For various reasons the DC Corporate's fan fiction cash grab was truly stupid. Everything that Alan Moore left as subtext became context and every mystery that you didn't care about was examined. Both of these stories were entertaining enough but neither of them justified their existence. The Minutemen had a little more to go on since it gave us the story of the lesbian heroine who was doing more than looking cool and being a lesbian. She was also tracking down child molester/murderers based on some tortured narrative devices that require time travel as she was supposed to have been a child in the camps but the story was taking place in the 1940s. Also it was supposedly the real book that Nite Owl was writing with all the scurrilous details. One bit where Silk Spectre avenges the lesbian's death (sorry I forgot her name) and The Comedian makes it all go away sort of explains why the Comedian is Laura's father. But yeah, it all leads to the Comedian framing Hooded Justice (who never takes off his fucking hood which isn't ridiculous in the original but feels real stupid when he's the focus) for all those child murders and then getting Nite Owl to kill him. That was a massive turd.
As far as Silk Spectre is concerned, Laurie runs off to San Francisco and ends up with hippies. She takes bad drugs (that are engineered to make tripping hippies into consumers) and accidentally kills Frank Sinatra. Also the Comedian shows up to scare her boyfriend away forever (so I suppose that explains why she ends up with Dr. Manhattan) and then she comes home and THEN she goes to the New Minuteman meeting depicted in the original series, even though that makes no fucking sense because if she went through all of that WHY is she a teenage girl going to a vigilante team meeting in a costume that her mom picked out for her? She's supposed to be innocent in that first scene, not so innocent that she doesn't fuck Dr. Manhattan, but innocent enough to think that it's better to go along with her mother than say no. Such dumb fan fiction.
134. The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin - It's very weird reading two books by the same author at the same time. I usually avoid doing it, but this is a strange one because I was so intrigued by this book where there's a lot of talking but they are talking about such great things when it comes to revolution and making an anarchist society and how people can still feel trapped and unappreciated in any society (but since Le Guin's anarchist society doesn't have charismatic leaders, they don't have the gulags - however, they DO have people willing to use violence to keep things in line) and how capitalism can infect everything. It's really quite beautiful and it provides no easy answers (even though ultimately the capitalist society is utter shit for 90% of the population).
135.The Stories of Your Lives by Ted Chiang - The first half of this book was intimidating becasue not only is Ted Chiang writing about language, math, neurobiology and Babylonian mythology but it's obvious that he knows what he's talking about. And then that damn golem story happened and it was just a snore - ok, it wasn't just a snore, it was a story that illustrated just how annoying cultural appropriation is and that's a weird thing since it's a British society appropriating a Jewish magical troll doll thing, but it's still appropriation and it doesn't seem like he has much to say in regards to golems besides making them like robots and giving them the slavery story. But there are also bits about words and 19th century pseudo science. The rest of the stories have the same disappointing dirge. So this is half a great anthology and half a lot of stories that are trying too hard.
136. Volkhavaar by Tanith Lee - As I read this book I thought FINALLY! Finally I am reading a book by Tanith Lee that reminds me of why I loved Tanith Lee. This book is a compelling fantasy with compelling magical sociopaths and magic that is rooted in the human condition. The writing style is beautiful and the thing is a tight 190 pages which means it takes a few days to read. I needed a good Tanith Lee book because I slogged my way through the Blood Opera trilogy and that was all boring and stupid and so miserable. Her Daw stuff might not be her best era but it is her most consistently decent era.