Sunday Status Update: November 6, 2016

This week, Batman.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Batman: Field report for October. The Riddler escaped from Arkham Asylum again (seriously must look into updating security — what do they have, a revolving door?), but I recaptured him fairly easily. Beginning to think he’s just getting tired — one of his riddles was stolen from The Hobbit. Not entirely sure why he’s still trying — at this point, everyone just solves his riddles by searching it on Google anyway. Scarecrow tried to attack the city on Halloween, just like always. Actually find beating the snot out of him under the gaze of jack-o-lanterns oddly festive at this point. Must not indulge this feeling. Awkward moment later in the night, when I mistook woman in catsuit for Catwoman. Forced once again to ponder tactical advantage of leaving lower face undefended — pepper spray not much fun.

Bill: A lot going on in life lately so not much reading the past few weeks. But finally got some done. My favorite was Margaret Atwood’s Hagseed, an engrossing updating of The Tempest. I also managed to read Faller by Will McIntosh , a mostly engaging techno thriller with a cool premise/setting. And speaking of settings, I also read Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Cosmos by Marc Sumerak, a fun but more importantly funny Lonely Planet-like guidebook to the various realms of the Marvel-verse, with jokey asides by the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Brad: I’ve been obsessed with Garth Ennis’s harsh, very adult run on the Punisher for Marvel’s MAX series, and I have read about sixty issues in the past few weeks. The MAX comics also housed Bendis‘s incredible ALIAS, which is what the very adult Jessica Jones TV show is based on. I’m not sure if the newer Jessica Jones comic book series that just started will be more moderate than the original Alias comic books (By the way, Alias is not to be confused with the TV show Alias, which is why they changed the TV show’s title to Jessica Jones and repackaged all the old Alias books).

Marion: I finished Cherie Priest’s haunted house story The Family Plot. Very shivery and enjoyable. The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, a short story collection by Carlos Hernandez, stood out for the lively and convincing narrative voices, and some genuinely original and wild ideas. I just finished The Perdition Score, by Richard Kadrey, the latest Sandman Slim book. It surprised me. A review is coming soon, I promise.

StuartThis week I finished Jonathan Carroll‘s Land of Laughs, selected by David Pringle for his Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels. It’s a quirky fantasy  about two fans of a famous children’s book author who decide to visit his hometown of Galen, Missouri to write a biography, and the strange behavior of the locals. It was a welcome respite after the frustration of listening to Alastair Reynolds‘ REVELATION SPACE trilogy. Still, I plan to read Reynold’s Chasm CityThe Prefect, and House of Suns. In the meantime, I started Neil Gaiman‘s Neverwhere, which hasn’t been as engaging as his other books so far, which is surprising. I continue to chip away at Lawrence Sutin’s Divine Invasions,  a biography of  Philip K Dick, along with Lucius Shepard‘s excellent 1987 short-story collection The Jaguar Hunter.

Tim: This week, I decided to make another run at Guy Gavriel Kay‘s FIONOVAR TAPESTRY. I’ve tried it before and couldn’t get into it, partially because the books do feel a little dated at this point. They stick pretty closely to last generation’s model of epic fantasy, and while you know they were probably what everyone wanted to read at the time, literary fashion has undergone some changes since then. Looking at the bits and pieces of the series, though, it’s got everything I hypothetically should love in a fantasy trilogy — otherworld material, the Arthurian legends, a hint of eternal recurrence — so I’m giving it another go.

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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. Brad: I gave a friend JESSICA JONES; ALIAS as her All Hallows Read gift.

    Stuart — I barely remember LAND OF LAUGHS because I read it so long ago, but I do remember liking it and being a little bit weirded out by it.

    • I bet she’ll like it, Marion. It was one of the comic book series I read during my first year of reading comics about eight years ago, and it was one of the ones that showed me how much the art form could really do. It helped open my eyes.

      In order to ease myself into the art form, I started with reading some Batman and asking various comic book experts about which crime comics were the best to read. Since Batman is essentially a detective (who appeared with other detectives–including Slam Bradley–in Detective Comics), I felt like I had an approach that tied in with my other current area of interest and teaching: Crime Fiction.

      The first crime comics that amazed me were Ed Brubaker’s Criminal Series, and then I read Alias and 100 Bullets (though I can’t remember which I read first of those two). Then I branched out to all sorts of crime comics including Powers and Gotham Central, two of my favorites.

      And then I started looking at Hellblazer and seeing how the P.I. convention was merged with Horror and the Supernatural, something that was also new to me, though those of you at this site were well-aware of this sub-genre of SFF (Urban Fantasy, I think it’s called from the SFF perspective?).

  2. Brad: Definitely want to check out the ALIAS comics and Jessica Jones TV series at some point.

    Marion: Yeah, Land of Laughs slowly creeps up on you – I liked it!

    Tim: The Fionavar Tapestry feels very 1980s epic fantasy – I think GGK hit his stride later with his historical fantasies.

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