Sunday Status Update: May 6, 2012

I want to see Avengers so very, very badly. Other obligations have spoilt this weekend for viewing, but I am determined to get to a theater in short order. I haven’t been this excited about a film since V for Vendetta. Oh, sorry, were you expecting an introduction? Er…yes, and we read novels this week too.

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Greg: We’ll I’ve read a couple of really good books that I need to review; Ari Marmell‘s The Goblin Corps and Richard K. Morgan‘s The Steel Remains — the first of his A LAND FIT FOR HEROES series. I also started the following book of that series, The Cold Commands. Along with those, I’ve read a ton of digital comics and graphic novels of which I’ll select some for review on Fanboy Friday. Speaking of comics, I’ve got tickets to see The Avengers today and I’ve even talked my wife into going! I don’t think I’ve ever been this jazzed about a movie. The other day, I was just thinking how awesome an event this is for me. The little boy that lives deep inside, who is still back in the 70’s/80’s, sitting in a tree, and reading a newly bought comic book, is beaming with heart-felt joy. :)fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

 John: I finished reading Broken Blade by Kelly McCullough and am now reading Black Wing Tuesday by Alicia Ryan.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: Because I had a break from school this week, I got a lot of reading done. I have 213 titles in my library, so I started with the ones that were the shortest — the novellas I picked up when they were free or only a few dollars. Most of these were award winners: The Winds of Marble Arch by Connie Willis, Schrödinger’s Kitten by George Alec Effinger, The Death of Captain Future, Stealing Alabama, and …Where Angels Fear to Tread by Allen Steele, Press Enter and The Persistence of Vision by John Varley, A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman, and Reaper by Rachel Vincent. I also read D.J. MacHale’s first PENDRAGON book, The Merchant of Death. I did slip in some academic reading, even though I was on break; for an academic publisher I reviewed a new edition of one of the textbooks I use. Out of all that, I’d say that the two novellas by John Varley were my favorites. I plan to put more of his titles on my TBR list.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: In 1975, twenty-one years before George RR Martin published A Game of Thrones, John Crowley’s first novel, The Deep, came out. A foreigner lands in a world torn by a war of succession as two royal families, the Red and the Blacks, battle for the crown. The world, the stranger is told, is a flat disk set upon a pillar, and the pillar is rooted in the Deep. Crowley’s short, lyrical novel is different from Martin’s in two ways; not everyone dies, and it actually comes to an end. In other news, I finished Patricia Finney’s complex, compelling Tudor-era mystery, The Firedrake’s Eye. Finney carries the day with her exquisite language, especially with the point of view of Tom of Bedlam, the madman who sees devils, angels, and the truth.

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Terry: I’ve started reading a ridiculous number of new books this week; as new awards ballots come out, I tend to pick up the books I bought some time ago that are now on the ballot, as well as the books that happen to be adjacent to them on the shelves, and take tastes of everything. The books I’ve been sticking with the most are Hilary Davidson‘s first mystery, The Damage Done; Maureen Noel‘s Nightworld, which, most unusually for me, is a self-published ebook; InCryptid by Seanan McGuire, the first in her new urban fantasy series; and continuing with Joe McKinney‘s Stoker-winning zombie novel, Flesh Eaters. I’m enjoying the mystery most of all four of these. My goal is to finish everything on my nightstand as soon as possible, but I think I have a good thirty books there, so this may take awhile.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: Although I’ve been quite busy this week graduating, I did feel the need for some time with a nice, easy-going fantasy read, which sent me on a quest into some of my older boxes of books bought but unread. I found quite a wealth of novels I wasn’t even aware I possessed, some of which were immediately entered on my reading list. The trouble with most of them, however, was that these were the books that for one reason or another I had passed over or not finished after picking them up, and for most of the ones that interested me most, the reason was that at the time I had found them too tedious, too slow, or simply too weird, none of which suited my mood. I ended up picking Kristen Britain‘s Green Rider, a book that I read a bit of about a year ago before blowing a raspberry at it and abandoning it. I’d always intended to pick it up again and give it a more thorough look, however, so I managed to get through that. While it’s not a favourite, I didn’t despise it nearly as much on this reading, leading me to wonder exactly what was in my water last time that I built it up into such a big deal. A review should be forthcoming at some point. After finishing Green Rider, I also happened to stop at a library book sale, where I discovered The Revenge of the Rose, a novel of Michael Moorcock‘s deeply bizarre, profoundly influential, entirely unforgettable ELRIC SAGA. Anyway, I bought the thing and was about halfway through it when the storm of grad parties and suchforth descended.

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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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  1. Greg — I saw The Avengers too! I’m always curious to know how these movies stack up to the genuine fans. What did you think?

  2. Greg /

    Marion -The show we’re going to is in 280 minutes. I can’t wait. Even got my Avengers T-shirt on already! :)

  3. I loved the Avengers… Great movie.

  4. Tor /

    Oh man, I’m sorry Convocation has interrupted your movie plans, Tim! My family went to the Avengers together yesterday and it was great. Both of my parents really enjoyed it!

    Also! The series I was telling you about by Alison Baird was “The Dragon Throne” series. I am curious as to whether my disdain of the series is due to having read all of her books in less than a month… and whether my copies are worth rescuing from the States.

  5. No idea how to explain the awesomeness that is the Avengers without cussing. :)

  6. Marion- I just clicked the link to John Crowley from your status update. I was amazed to see he came from Presque Isle, ME. That’s the area where my dad grew-up and my grandfather retired to that town. I’ve spent many a summer there.

    (I know that’s no big deal really, its just that Presque Isle is one of those kind of tiny little places, that a one knows personally but never expects to hear mention of from anyone else.)

  7. BTW- I should mention as proof of the awesomness of The Avengers; my wife absolutely loved it, and I’ve never been able to get her to watch any of the Marvel super-heroes before. She always said she couldn’t stand “that stuff” before. :)

  8. OK, Greg, you’ve talked me into it!!

  9. my work is done here. :)

  10. Derek /

    Yep, The Avengers was awesome. My favorite comic book title growing up and still is 35+ years later.

    How does it stack up? Arguably, the best comics movie ever made. There has been a lot of debate in the comics realm through the years that a superhero group movie could not be pulled off. Well, Joss Whedon has done it and credit to Marvel for releasing the individual character movies the past few years to build it to this point.

    There are deviations from the origin of The Avengers, as one should expect when an origin is around 50 years old, but Loki was their original nemesis. Cap wasn’t part of the first storyline — still a “Capsicle” as Stark called him — but he is synonymous with the team so you had to include him. Hawkeye and Black Widow are later members also, but it’s reasonable to inject some modernism into the origin.

    SHIELD’s role in world protection is a newer theme in the Marvel universe. Only in the last 10-15 years of storylines has SHIELD suddenly became more intertwined into plots and schemes and how past events were influenced by them. Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury is the alternative Marvel Universe’s Nick Fury. Hawkeye as well, portraying him as an assassin (my favorite Marvel character). And Thor is a combination of the original and how he is represented in the alternate Marvel universe.

    Note: The alternate Marvel universe is called Ultimate Marvel. The main titles have been Spider-Man, X-Men, and The Avengers. It was introduced over 10 years ago with the idea of gaining new readership where the standard titles had 30-40 years worth of storylines. The goal was to keep it limited to a few titles, less clutter, and re-imagine the origins of the characters with some modern themes spiced in. So what you are seeing in some of these movies is a combination of old Marvel and new Marvel (not necessarily a bad thing & I have seen very few protests from old-timers).

    Recommendation: Any of the trade paperbacks of Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s been the most consistent title of the Ultimate Universe and receives a lot of positive reviews. There is a catch as the first run went around 120 issues and it has rebooted into a second run that is now around 10 issues (not giving anything away as to why).

    Overall, I can’t complain about The Avengers movie on how it was handled. I suppose I could find a few things to nitpick about but it’s not worth the effort when the movie was crafted so well. The pending villian foreshadowed in the credits is an interesting choice. A very powerful villian on a cosmic level who was not one of their original antagonists. No complaints, just a bold choice to pick for a most likely upcoming sequel.

  11. Greg –I love the “Six Degrees of Separation” thing with you and one of my favorite writers, John Crowley.

    And yeah, a great movie. And a sinister new villain for the next one?

  12. Marion- Yes. I won’t name names but that villain isn’t new -he’s been around a while in the Marvel universe, the old one not the Ultimates I believe- but very powerful and has kinda a thing with Death itself.

    Derek- I did not know that Loki was the Avegers’ original nemesis. Interesting stuff.
    I think you and I have a very similar history with comics. However, where I grew-up it was kinda hard to follow any one particular series due to the one grocery store where I could get comics was not very consistent with the titles they sold. Plus my attention span was always ready to jump on the next comic title that was unknown to me and my allowance limited the number of comics I could purchase.

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