Showing posts from July, 2017

[Book Review] Old Man's War

Old Man's War / John Scalzi July has proven to be a horrible month for me, so I went for a light read as the Virtual Speculation pick.  Old Man's War is a light military SF read, written in a similar tradition of Starship Troopers , but it also manages to act as both a tribute and satire. In general I enjoy Scalzi's work.  Fun, light reads, and he's proven to be a pretty good person as well.  This is the second Scalzi read I've done, the first being Lock-In (which I've still failed to post an actual review of).  I've also met Scalzi several times, the last time being several months ago where, as the inscription on my copy of Old Man's War indicates, I brought brownies to the author event.  In case you were wondering, it was a giant star brownie.  Sadly, I was trying a new recipe for making them from scratch, and it was not my best baking result.  (Sorry, John). I ended up sitting down and reading the book in three days.  It would have been fewe

Silmarillion Blues : Ainulindalë

In the beginning was the Song, and the Song was with Ilúvatar, and the Song was Illúvatar. Please forgive me the paraphrasing, and regardless of my atheist status, no disrespect is intended. The thing is, I cannot read Ainulindalë without thinking of the Bible .  This is going to sound super weird, but I used to read the Bible in church because I was bored out of my mind during the sermon.  Plus one of my college English classes did some readings so I have an Oxford Study Bible living on my shelves with all my folklore, religion, and mythology texts.  I find study of religion, myths, and folklore fascinating, and I don't separate out popular modern religion from those of days past. Instead, the above paraphrasing is a deliberate invoking of a well known Bible verse to draw attention to mythology parallels within Middle Earth.  And we see many parallels, from the angelic chorus, to the creation of a world for peoples with Free Will, and to the dissension and fall of the

Valerian from Page to Screen

On a whim (and due to a complete implosion of plans for D&D today), I ended up catching Valerian , which timed nicely with the fact that I borrowed Valerian, Vol 1: The New Future Trilogy from my library to read. Right off the bat I have to say the movie is utterly gorgeous.  Absolutely breathtaking, with moments of travel that I think if I watched in 3D or IMAX I'd end up trying to fall out of my chair.  Some of the aesthetics and feel look like the work of the Wachowskis .  Overall, a fun, consistent story, if a bit heavy on the romance.  Though I'm forced to ignore the implications of all the structural damage inflicted. I started out a bit hesitant.  The trailers made me think the film was some hot new YA series, and I had stumbled across a few reviews saying the movie lacked in substance.  That our first interactions with Valerian and Laureline involves heavy flirtation and a clear statement of romantic intent on Valerian's part increased my wariness.  But

Silmarillion Blues

We're about to kick off a pretty intense leg of this journey, diving into The Silmarillion . Christopher Tolkien published The Silmarillion  after the death of his father, a book created from the living body of work J. R. R. Tolkien created in his notebooks encompassing the mythology, legends and annals of Middle Earth history. Ostensibly,  The Silmarillion  is made up of five texts, Ainulindalë , Valaquenta ,  Quenta Silmarillion ,  Akallabêth , and Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age .  Some will be familiar through direct mention or vague reference from The Hobbit  and The Lord of the Rings .  Other pieces of lore will require extrapolation to connect to the world we've been reading through for two years. I will primarily be reading from my library's copy of The Silmarillion , illustrated by Ted Nasmith.  I own a paperback copy of the text, and I will likely dig through it as library loans require I relinquish the borrowed copy now and again.  My paperb

[Book Review] Curse Words, Volume 1

Curse Words Vol 1: The Devil's Devil / Charles Soule & Ryan Browne A dark wizard has come to our realm to destroy our world for his master... and decides to become a hero (or something) instead.  Clearly nothing can go wrong with this plan.  Clearly. Yeah... things go wrong.  In a splashy, chaotic, rock music video sort of way.  All in the company of talking rat/koala/being that's a bit more charismatic and moral than Wizord.  Probably for the best. Entertaining and unhinged. Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Image Comics; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

Bilbo's Last Song

Probably the most fitting way leave The Lord of the Rings  behind is to visit Bilbo's Last Song . A poem written as a gift to his secretary, Bilbo's Last Stand  was published posthumously and serves as an epilogue to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.   Illustrated by Pauline Baynes, the poem makes a graceful transition to picture book, with paired scenes from The Hobbit  and The Lord of the Rings  as Bilbo pens his farewell to Middle Earth.

[Book Review] Meddling Kids

Meddling Kids / Edgar Cantero Scooby-Doo meets H.P. Lovecraft.  With an absolutely fantastic cover. If you want to read someone singing praises of this story it's not hard to find ( NPR: In 'Meddling Kids,' The Scooby Gang Grows Up — Hard , USA Today: 'Scooby-Doo' fans will dig Cantero's 'Meddling Kids' ). My reactions are a bit muddled, and probably more in line with the Kirkus review . Is the book fun?  Undoubtedly.  Familiar enough to evoke Scooby-Doo, but different enough to skirt violation of intellectual property.  Even better, Cantero has injected some actual diversity and complexity to the characters.  In true Scooby-Doo fashion, even as they encounter horrors from the gates beyond, the story holds fast as an adventure rather than a horror or thriller. My copy was a pre-publication galley, so I'm not sure how much has changed in the final publication, but as I still lack access to the final piece, I have to go forward with the ab

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix F: II. On Translation

This is it folks.  The end of The Lord of the Rings .  A few pages of linguistics and then this book is closed, a brief visit to Bilbo's Last Song and then on to the Silmarillion . Tolkien presents his work as a translation of what essentially is a found tale.  The journeys of Bilbo, Frodo, and assorted companions through events that ultimately began a new epoch in Middle Earth.  He wants us to treat this story as a translated work, with all the attendant changes that implies to the actual words spoken. However, neither in our world nor in the world of Middle Earth is there truly one universal language.  There is a "Common Speech" but as a language it still has its derivations and differences across the different cultures and races.  So instead we get cultures that have expressed accents or different grammar rules.  The use of exceptional precise (or imprecise) English is a deliberate reflection of archaic forms of speech in cultures that view language as a core are

July and Mental Health

To be completely frank, July is an utter shit show for me. This is not helped by my life-long coping method of suppression and keeping so busy I don't have time to think about the problem.  I'm not sure when July started being so difficult for me emotionally, but based on the snippets of writing floating around (some hopefully to never see the light of day again), almost every July since I was 11 or 12 I've struggled with very deep depression. I guess I don't have to worry about it being Seasonal Affective Disorder, right? (Never mind, according to the Mayo Clinic , SAD sometimes does involve summer depression.  So, who knows?  Not me, definitely not what I went to school for.) One of these days I hope to have both the time and the income to allow me to see a therapist.  But I'll be honest, money is tight and thanks to working multiple jobs, my schedule ends up highly irregular.  And the fun thing about anxiety and depression is it makes the idea of finding

[Book Review] Paperbacks from Hell

Paperbacks from Hell: the twisted history of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction / Grady Hendrix This book might be the best thing I've read ever. OK, slight exaggeration there, but it's totally  worth the exaggeration. Hendrix takes you down into both the well known and less well known corners of '70s and '80s horror fiction, exploring the trends and connections to the world at large in a wonderfully engaging and absolutely hysterical narrative.  Broken down by subgenre, we go from the familiar (haunted houses, vampires, etc) to perhaps the less familiar (knife-wielding crabs, homicidal vegetation) in a veritable tour of the horrific and absurd. Highly recommend to fans of horror and non-horror alike, and a must read for anyone with a taste for kitsch and cult. Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Quirk Books via Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix F: I. The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age

Words, words, words. Tolkien uses this section to illuminate us on the nature and history of languages in Middle Earth, including the "true" language of the saga (ie. not English).  The different races, and sometimes the different strata of races, have their own linguistic histories that have brushed against each other over the centuries.  The older languages retain an air of higher order and sophistication, particularly the Elvish tongues (aided, no doubt, by their longer years and deep dedication to lore) and that of the Numenoreans. While many of the languages influenced each other, the Black Speech stands alone in its form, a likely creation of Sauron himself.  While it bled into other languages, it was a language with such a limited and focused use that reciprocal adoptions would be stagnated.  It only served as a "common tongue" for those in deep service to Sauron, and I also do not see him as someone responding lightly to attempts to reshape his language.