Weekly Pull Review 2/25/15

ODY-C #3- Image

It’s cyclops time! Woo! The cyclops is one of the best comic book monsters I’ve ever seen- It’s absolutely profane and alien, all at once. A three lobed mouth that looks almost like one of Guillermo Del Toro’s freakish mutant vampires from Blade 2, though not quite, an enormous eye with eyelids that close along a vertical line, enormous breasts running in three rows down its chest- it definitely stands out. We get introduced to new gods this issue- Hera takes a greater role than in the past, and we get properly introduced to Apollo, and more especially Dionysus. Poseidon still takes the cake as the most visually striking god, but Apollo and Dionysus stand up quite well themselves.

Chew #46- Image

This isn’t the first time a major character has died in Chew, but it’s treated very differently this time around. Most characters don’t even know about this death yet- in fact, only one person does. The status quo has undergone a number of other shakeups, as well- beyond all of the characters lying in the hospital, Tony now refuses to work with Colby, and is stuck working with D-Bear, of all people. No signs of the Vampire yet this arc, but considering that this arc is titled Blood Pudding, and has vampire teeth in the logo…

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The 2014 Nebula Nominees have been announced!

Best Novel
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)

-We’ve got a nice array of publishers here, compared to last year’s heavily dominated Tor/Orbit slate. The ones I’ve read so far are The Goblin Emperor, Ancillary Sword, and The Three-Body Problem. Perhaps not coincidentally, they’re also the ones I’m betting on as front-runners, but we’ll see after I’ve read them all. The Goblin Emperor especially is fighting an uphill battle, given how sci-fi dominated the Nebula (and Hugo) tends to be, but it’s good enough that it stands a serious chance. The Three-Body Problem is one of those rare translated books popping up on the list, and is actually the first Chinese science fiction novel translated into English. (I did a review, though due to changing financial circumstances, I’m missing out on Worldcon this year like I’d planned.) The weird thing this year, though? There is exactly one stand alone novel, and that’s The Goblin Emperor. Literally everything else is part of a series. Weird.

Best Novella

We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
“The Regular,” Ken Liu (Upgraded)
“The Mothers of Voorhisville,” Mary Rickert (Tor.com 4/30/14)
Calendrical Regression, Lawrence Schoen (NobleFusion)
“Grand Jeté (The Great Leap),” Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)

– I totally read novellas last year. Totally.

Best Novelette

“Sleep Walking Now and Then,” Richard Bowes (Tor.com 7/9/14)
“The Magician and Laplace’s Demon,” Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 12/14)
“A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i,” Alaya Dawn Johnson (F&SF 7-8/14)
“The Husband Stitch,” Carmen Maria Machado (Granta #129)
“We Are the Cloud,” Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed 9/14)
“The Devil in America,” Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com 4/2/14)

– I think I’ve heard of one or two of these.

Best Short Story

“The Breath of War,” Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/6/14)
“When It Ends, He Catches Her,” Eugie Foster (Daily Science Fiction 9/26/14)
“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” Matthew Kressel (Clarkesworld 5/14)
“The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family,” Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous)
“A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide,” Sarah Pinsker (F&SF 3-4/14)
“Jackalope Wives,” Ursula Vernon (Apex 1/7/14)
“The Fisher Queen,” Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5/14)

-Yeah, I don’t really read much short fiction, gotta be honest.

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Edge of Tomorrow, Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Guardians of the Galaxy, Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Interstellar, Written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures)
The Lego Movie, Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Warner Bros. Pictures)

-This one is really Birdman’s to lose. Who knows, though, this one has gone weird directions before, and will again.

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

Unmade, Sarah Rees Brennan (Random House)
Salvage, Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow)
Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, A.S. King (Little, Brown)
Dirty Wings, Sarah McCarry (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Greenglass House, Kate Milford (Clarion)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton (Candlewick)

-Haven’t read any of these, but then, I tend to be notably terrible at picking YA winners.

Weekly Reading List 2/1/15-2/21/15

Yes, I know, I know, I’ve been super lazy lately. Anyhap- three weeks of reading at once. (Also, for some reason, even with my much expanded free time, I’ve been reading less lately, go figure.) The books are in the order I read them.

Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide

Non-Fiction (I guess?)

I’m going to hold off on doing an actual full review of the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons until I’ve actually run an adventure or two, but from reading the books and doing character building sessions, I can comfortably go out on a limb and say that this is the most elegant edition of D&D yet. Is it the best, though? Dunno if I’d go that far yet, but I’m not saying no.

Blake Charleton’s Spellwright

Fantasy, Reread

Blake Charlton had fairly strong dyslexia growing up, and… well, you should read some of his commentary on that. It’s pretty obvious how much he drew on that experience when writing the Spellwright Trilogy, which features a magic system of magical languages, and a protagonist who is essentially dyslexic in them. It makes for compelling reading, and gives the protagonist, Nicodemus Weal, a sense of authenticity that many characters, even extremely compelling ones. It’s also obvious how much his medical training influenced the books, as well. I first read this one in high school, and damn if it doesn’t hold up well.

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Weekly Pull Review 2/18/15

There were no giant science tubes this week. Not a damned one. Seriously, people, what’s the point of drawing a comic without giant science tubes, especially if a laboratory shows up?

Bitch Planet #3: The Secret Origin of Penny Rolle- Image

Bitch Planet is doing something a bit unusual- every third issue is going to be drawn by a guest artist, in order to help keep the comic rolling on a regular schedule. I personally think it’s a fantastic idea, at least based on the art in this issue. The old school four color toning continues to work incredibly well everywhere it’s used in the comic- it just fits into the comic’s voice. Consistent release schedules are a major problem for many excellent comics out there. This issue jumps back in time to give an origin story for Penny Rolle. It seems a little early in the series for an origin story issue for someone other than the protagonist, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing- far too often, ensemble cast comics do far too little in the way of establishing personality and history for characters, just leaving you with a broad trope or two. This issue also does a great job with showing us how things really are for average people under the rule of the Fathers. I’m really, really wanting to learn more about Megaton, though. I’ve got to admit it, I’m a sucker for fictional sports, especially sci-fi ones. The afterwards materials/columns are really proving to be a draw, as well- letter columns are nice, but unless it’s the Sex Criminals letter column, having a little extra informative material in the back does nothing but good for the comic. This issue also features the most ominous use of hair care products I’ve seen in quite a while. Also, an awesome magic mirror, using science! Suck it, Snow White. (Seriously didn’t even catch the symbology there the first readthrough, but that’s on me for being thick.)

Multiversity: Mastermen- DC

Grant Morrison takes us to his version of Red Sun this issue- one where Superman’s pod lands in Nazi occupied territory, leading to him ruling over a Nazi Earth as Overman. (In the original Red Sun, Superman’s pod crash-lands in Soviet occupied Ukraine.) Jim Lee handles the art duties on this one. I knew this was going to be one of my favorite Multiversity issues yet when it opened with a splash page of Hitler straining with constipation on the toilet. The story is pretty straightforwards, but that’s not a bad thing. The Sivanas are really building up more than the Gentry in terms of the overarching story- to be fair, though, it’s often a better idea to have the minor villains take more screen time than the Big Bads. Nazi Batman (Leatherwing, how fitting) proves creepy as hell. Establishing Uncle Sam as a superpowered freedom fighter is a pretty awesome move. Much of the driving force behind the plot is Overman’s moral doubts creeping up on him- even raised by Hitler, he proves to still have something of a moral compass. One thing that really bothered me, though- Underwaterman never looked directly at the camera. Ever. No science tubes, though there is a cylindrical hovering specimen jar. It’s just not big enough to be a proper giant science tube.

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Weekly Pull Review 1/11/15

Sorry it’s late, I know. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks.

Satellite Sam #11- Image

“Is that a gun?” “No, I’m just happy to see you.”  Satellite Sam returns after a lengthy delay (I’m not sure exactly how long of one, I jumped in following issue 10. I picked up all the back issues in September, though, so… at least that long? Yeah, looked it up, September.) Generally speaking, I’d throw Satellite Sam below the divide, just for the cover art (I guess so as not to shock some random visitor to my site, maybe?), but the cover on this one is pretty tame compared to usual. While much of the attention Satellite Sam gets is focused on all of the sex, office politics, and backstabbing, I actually enjoy the hole it pokes in the image of the 50’s the most. Over the years, I’ve grown thoroughly sick and tired of people glorifying the 50s- they were a vile, hateful time, and Satellite Sam wallows in some of the worst of it. Not seeing it sugar-coated for once feels pretty good. Black and white art is also something I usually avoid- I think that Satellite Sam is the first black and white miniseries I’ve had in my pull since Snapshot, and that came out a couple of years ago. I just usually don’t enjoy black and white. I’ve tried several times to get into The Walking Dead, but the black and white art just doesn’t do it for me. (Plus, I’m not especially excited about the idea of reading through the sheer amount of back-issues there.) Satellite Sam, however, manages to get past my dislike of black and white comics, largely through its use of detailed backgrounds and easily distinguishable characters.

Thor #5- Marvel

The new Thor starts to settle into her role as Thor, and we finally get to leave the Roxxon floating fortress. (Seriously, four issues in one spot? My attention span is way too short for that.) We also get to see Odin being his pissy, self-important, argumentative self, his brother, Cul Borson, god of fear, big bad of the Fear Itself crossover event (have I mentioned that I largely hate crossover events? Because I really do) has returned at his side to serve as Asgardian Minister of Justice (which can’t possibly go wrong, can it? Surely he won’t turn on Odin and be a bad guy. Surely. Also, I just bought a bridge from a trustworthy looking fellow.) Meanwhile, Thor beats up the Absorbing Man and Titania (watching her punch out Creel with a thought balloon saying “That’s for saying feminist like it’s a four-letter word, creep” was pretty satisfying) and chats with Freyja. Unworthy Thor is still trying to figure out who the new Thor is. (I’m still betting on Roz Solomon.) Also, he’s drinking a lot. Overall, I’m pretty happy that they’re finally out of that damn fortress.

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