March 2nd, 2011


Books read, February 2011

28. Air (2008-2010) by G. Willow Wilson (words) and M.K. Perker (pictures) -- This comic suffered a problem fairly common to graphic novels canceled after only a year or two: it reads like most of an opening act suddenly shunted into a conclusion. But this book has problems beyond that. For one, Wilson seems to find her ideas a lot more exciting and interesting than she ever succeeds in convincing me they are. For another, her characters often feel less like people driving the action than like tools for advancing the plot. They hit the beats, but they don't feel real, and the dialogue is often quite bad. Poignancies, paradoxes and events just happen without ever resonating with me, and the Vertigo-style magic-beneath-the-real-world story never really felt plausible. Also, this book is Wilson's first long-form comics story, and by the time she begins to get a handle on the pacing, it's disrupted again by the book's cancellation. So it's a story that had potential, but ultimately was boring enough to get canceled before that potential could be realized. [Vol. 1: Letters from Lost Countries | Vol. 2: Flying Machine | Vol. 3: Pureland | Vol. 4: A History of the Future]

27. Scorch Atlas (2009) by Blake Butler -- This brief collection of stories of people coping (or not) during the collapse of society on alternate earths whimpered and gibbered into the handkerchief of my soul. (My biggest problem with this book was its design: the grayed-and-wrinkled effect of the pages was printed at insufficient dpi, so I had to hold the book uncomfortably far from my face unless I wanted the effect to resolve into headache-inducing dots.) [Amazon]

26. The Bone Key (2007) by Sarah Monette -- Delightful collection of stories about introverted museum archivist Kyle Murchison Booth. Of course no sooner had I read it than I learned a new edition was forthcoming. In any event, these stories are delicious and fun and often slightly disturbing, and highly recommended. [Amazon]

25. Star Wars: Knight Errant (2011) by John Jackson Miller -- Garbage. Why do I keep doing this to myself? [Amazon]

24. Deep State (2011) by Walter Jon Williams -- Follow-up to TINAG in which some of the same characters end up facing off against an authoritarian regime. Larger in scale but less focused than its predecessor, it's fun but ultimately less satisfying than TINAG. Almost as fun as reading the book was seeing how closely it hewed to the situation in Egypt. [Amazon]

23. This Is Not a Game (2009) by Walter Jon Williams -- Thriller in which ARG network is used to deal with real world situations. A fun book, a page-turner read in practically one sitting. [Amazon]

22. Above/Below (2011) by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek -- Paired novellas that are much better together than individually. Because I'm boring I started with Above. Literal social division and class warfare: the rich live in floating cities, literally above the poor who supply their fuel in exchange for food. And then a city falls from the sky. . . [Twelfth Planet Press]

21. Whose America?: Culture Wars in the Public Schools (2002) by Jonathan Zimmerman -- This book untangles two histories that are often jumbled together. The first part deals with the history of the textbook wars over the last century; the second part looks at the conflicts over religious education and religion in education over the same time period. Fascinating stuff, if occasionally a bit dry. [Amazon]

20. The Elements of Investing (2010) by Burton G. Malkiel and Charles D. Ellis -- I read this because it was a gift. Didn't really learn anything from it, but it's a decent introductory primer on investment. [Amazon]

19. ELMER (2006-2008) by Gerry Alanguilan -- A beautiful comic. What happens to the world when chickens suddenly achieve sentience and intelligence? It sounds silly, but it's handled deftly and occasionally surprisingly. Highly recommended. [Amazon]

Books read, January 2011Collapse )