Sunday Status Update: November 30, 2014

This week, grab bag of quick superhero jokes.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Supergirl: Well, it was the Justice League Thanksgiving party this week. Everything went off about as expected. The Flash ate everything in sight, supposedly to “keep up his calorie intake” and not at all because he’s a big greedy pig. Batman sat around looking even more depressed than usual and wouldn’t be thankful for anything. Superman made cutting up a dead bird into a much bigger deal than it had to be. And he wore an apron. It was… horrible. Then Wonder Woman got tipsy and started reminding us all (yet again) about how she’s the god of war now. You’d think getting promoted from princess to goddess would be pretty interesting, but she doesn’t seem to have any new powers or anything, so maybe it’s a desk job… ?  Rao only knows. Or Zeus. Or… you know, whatever.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: This week, along with grading 45 final paper drafts (in anticipation of doing it all over again next week), I made a promise to myself to make a concerted attempt to start clearing off my TBR shelf. I began with the short ones, so I read two more titles in Osprey Pubishing’s excellent MYTHS AND LEGENDS SERIES, these two focused on Charlemagne and Sinbad, and an enjoyable collection of essays entitled What is a Superhero edited by Robin S. Rosenberg and Peter Coogan. Fiction-wise, I finished The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg, which fell a bit flat; Swords of Good Men, by Snorri Kristjansson, which was OK but had issues of pace and structure; and Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David Barnett, a mostly fun steampunk novel set in an alternate United States.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Brad: This week I read some excellent comics. Read my review from yesterday to see why Elephantmen is one of the best science fiction titles being put out right now (I like it even better than Saga!). Elephantmen is in the pulp science fiction tradition with big-game animals (seriously), and it’s been running now for about a decade. I also read the first volume of Shutter, which is on sale this weekend at Comixology (the six issues currently published are available for 99 cents each). Coming up next week are reviews for the first comics I’ve read that are put out by the publisher Valiant: Harbinger and Bloodshot. These are also on sale right now, and I highly recommend you picking up these books while they are on sale at Comixology because they are normally high-priced titles. These are serious page-turners and are actually connected, though you don’t have to read them together. At the very least, get the first few volumes of Harbinger, but if you’ve got the money to spare, pick up a few volumes of Bloodshot as well. They are like Hollywood Summer Blockbusters, except better!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews João: Time for a personal confession: I have yet to finish reading A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. Yes, I know. No, please, don’t put me in jail! Wait, those guys over there aren’t gold cloaks? My bad. I finished A Feast for Crows last week and am now getting into A Dance of Dragons. As expected, I am enjoying the hell out of these books.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: Well, with the kids home from school, all the holiday company and cooking, and a stack of research papers to grade, I only managed to read one short book this week: Dragon, book 8 of Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series. Brust did some experimentation with the last few books, but with this one I can see VLAD TALTOS starting to return to its former glory. I have high hopes for the rest of the series.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I finally finished It! Hurray! Huzzah! Cheers! I’ve also read the first edition of Constantine, one of DC Comics’ New 52, and I’m disappointed; it’s so enmeshed in the DC Universe that it’s lost the distinctiveness that had made Hellblazer, the Vertigo comic that starred Constantine, my favorite. I’ve also read a few issues of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, one of my favorite periodicals. In other words, I’ve finally had a good reading week, thanks to Thanksgiving.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: I listened to some of Brandon Sanderson‘s Words of Radiance on audio book this week. It’s fun, and I think the audio book was a good choice for me in particular: I have a tendency to skim certain characters in this series (cough Shallan cough), and listening rather than reading forces me to pay attention and get the complete story. I also read my way through most of Jonathan Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four, and I’m happy to say it finally gave me the FF reading experience I’d been looking for. Great stuff.

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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. Joao, you are not alone. I’m right there with you, buddy.

    I wanted to write a comic detective-noir short story with magic so I decided I needed to reread The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett. Now I’m thinking I’m not good enough to write the story but I’m sill reading. I didn’t remember from before that Hammett carefully describes all of O’Shaunessy’s clothing (and Cairo’s too, for that matter) in fashion terms, including fashion color names! Either that was Hellman’s influence or Hammett was more in touch with his the feminine side than I would have suspected.

    • Brad Hawley /

      Marion, I love Hammett. He’s the best pulp writer of all-time, or at least in the area of crime fiction, as far as I’m concerned. However, though I always teach Maltese Falcon because of its cultural importance, I refuse to teach it without another work by Hammett because Maltese Falcon, as much as I like, it my LEAST favorite Hammett work. If you get a chance (and you may have already read these), get the collection The Continental Op. Actually, any of the Op stories are great, but that particular collection (not on e-book last I checked) is the best one available. The combination of stories is varied, and we slowly get a fuller picture of the Op as we work through the book. That’s my second favorite collection of short stories of all time, right after the four-volume collection of Somerset Maugham’s short stories (he IS the master of the short story and always will be).

      Sam Spade is the best known Hammett character because of the film and all the radio shows (that weren’t written by Hammett). But the OP is his masterpiece, really. It’s my favorite book to teach in my Crime Fiction course.

      Anyway, there’s my plug for the OP, who unjustly now lives in the shadow of Spade as far as American culture is concerned.

      I apologize if you know all this Marion. I’m just using your comment as an excuse to rave about The Continental Op!

      • I like the Continental Op stories. I liked THE DAIN CURSE a lot, too, mainly because there is a note of the supernatural (no spoilers, don’t worry). What I love about FALCON is how well Hammett uses dialogue in the book.

        If you’re trying to base a short story loosely on the plot of FALCON though, you realize by about Chapter Three that you will have to dump about seven plot convolutions and six characters (and now someone should chime in with, “Five Golden Rings!”),especially since I’m trying for story, not a comic novel.

  2. Marion, you are so good enough to write a comic detective-noir short story with magic. You don’t need to write like Hammett; you need to write like Marion!

    Joao, I, too, have not read all of A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve only read the first two books. I’ve started A Storm of Swords at least three times and always stalled out. It’s been so long that now I think I need to go back and reread the first two. (Or maybe just watch the first two seasons of the TV show? Since I’ve already read the books twice, I mean. I’d never suggest that otherwise.)

    Brad, you keep making me buy new comics! And I already have a pile about three feet high of all the comics you’ve made me buy so far.

    • Brad Hawley /

      Terry, can I apologize without really meaning it? Spera! Elephantmen! Great stuff.

  3. Brad Hawley /

    Terry, I just finished the third episode of Constantine, and even though my friends are complaining on Facebook about it, I’m really enjoying it. Papa Midnite (sp?) was perfectly cast. I agree about the New 52 Constantine. Such a let-down from 300+ issues of Hellblazer genius in the Vertigo run. They could’ve put a version of Constantine, much younger even, into the DCU and kept the adult Hellblazer going. This obsession with continuity ACROSS TITLES in a fictional universe is very weird. Thematic consistency in a single work matters more than plot continuity in two different books. Silly. If somebody wants write a story about an older Constantine for a mature audience, then let them. I’ll buy it. I won’t be confused by the fact that there are books about a younger version of the character. It’s sort of an insult to my intelligence, really. I can figure these things out!

    • I was completely confused when I picked up CONSTANTINE, and my confusion lasted until my friend Jeff told me about The New 52. I liked the little bit I saw of Hellblazer better.

      Brad, I am liking the show, especially the art production, and I agree the casting, especially of Constantine, Chaz and Papa Midnight (/nite? I don’t know) is perfect.

  4. I also have not finished ASOIAF. I gave up in the middle because I don’t want to have to re-read those massive books every time a new one comes out (it takes so long between them that I forget stuff). I’m waiting until the end to re-read the entire thing at once. I feel like that’s efficient. (However, now that they’re on TV, I could probably manage to keep up with the plot well enough just by watching the show.)

    • I did the same Kat. I reread the series once or twice as books came out, then after the five year pause, said not again; I’ll start from the beginning once it’s done

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