Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book List 2015: June


* = reread
[GN] = Graphic Novel / Comic Anthology


A Blink of the Screen:
Collected Short Fiction

by. Terry Pratchett

While A Slip of the Keyboard collected Pratchett’s short non-fiction pieces, A Blink of the Screen collects his short fiction: both from the Discworld and outside of it.

“...short stories always seem to cost me blood, and I envy the people who do them for fun.”
-pg. 107, intro to “Turntables of the Night”

I feel that quote pretty accurately sums up the book. Terry Pratchett is my favorite author, but unfortunately short stories are not where his strengths lie.

That being said, “The Sea and the Little Fishes” was amazing. And it was cool reading “The High Meggas” which was the short story that would later spawn The Long Earth series he wrote with Stephen Baxter.

“Short stories, as I have said, cost me blood. I envy those people who can write one with ease, or at least what looks like ease. I doubt if I’ve done more than fifteen in my life.

‘The Sea and Little Fishes,’ though, was one of the rare story ideas that just popped up. About two weeks later Bob Silverberg popped up, too, and asked if I could write a story for the Legends anthology.

I’m not sure what would have happened if he hadn’t; it would probably have become the start of a novel, or a thread in one. It was originally about a thousand words longer, containing a scene that did nothing but slow it down, according to Bob. He was right. It was quite a good scene, nevertheless, and turned up later in Carpe Jugulum.

The title? Totally made up, but it sounded right. For reasons I can’t quite remember now, some years ago I invented the ‘ancient’ saying, ‘The big sea does not care which way the little fishes swim,’ and put it in the mouth of a character. It sounded wise, in a slightly stupid kind [end of 189] of way, and I thought it also sounded like the kind of title you got on an award-winning story, in which surmise I turned out to be entirely wrong.”

-pg189-190, intro to “The Sea and Little Fishes”

* [GN]   83.  [GN] *

Days of Future Past

written by. Christ Claremont & John Byrne
pencils by. John Byrne

A collection of The Uncanny X-Men issues 138-143 & the Uncanny X-Men Annual#4, including the famous “Days of Future Past” storyline wherein the X-Men get a glimpse of the future and must do everything they can to prevent it from coming to be.

You know, these old comics are pretty wonderful in their own way.

I always forget that the actual “Days of Future Past” story is really short! It’s had such a huge impact on the franchise and yet it was originally just a normal two-issue story.

And yet I will argue that the real gem of this collection isn’t that story, it’s the Annual issue titled “Nightcrawler’s Inferno!” It tells the story of the gang throwing a surprise birthday party for Nightcrawler and how it results in them all getting dragged down into hell and fighting off demon attacks and the unwanted advances of Satan!

Also issue 143 “Demon” is great as well! It’s about how Kitty Pride is left alone in the mansion on Christmas Eve and has to single-handedly fight off a demonic intruder. And *Spoiler Alert* ends in a wonderfully Home Alone style “Kevin! What did you do to my room!” moment. Glorious.

You know what? All the issues in here are pretty great. Great volume all around!

“‘Wolverine, call me “Professor,” “Professor X,” “Professor Xavier,” or even, if you must, “Charles.” But not “Charley.” Is that understood?’

‘Sure, Chuck.’”


Trigger Warning:
Short Fictions and Disturbances

by. Neil Gaiman

A collection of short stories, tales, and scripts from Neil Gaiman.

Personally, I feel like shorter pieces are where Gaiman truly excels. Like with any short story collection some are much better than others, but there’s some real gems in here. If you’re in the mood for a great collection of lightly spooky / fantastical short stories then look no further.

“There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.”

[GN]   85.   [GN]

Wolverine and the X-Men, vol. 1:
Tomorrow Never Learns

written by. Jason Latour
pencils by. Mahmud Asrar

The story of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning continues.

As you’ll recall from last month, I finished up Jason Aaron’s run on Wolverine and the X-Men. I decided to keep reading and see if they found the series a worthy successor.

Answer: it does not & I’m not gonna fish in these waters anymore, because this one was not at all enjoyable.


To Kill a Mockingbird

by. Harper Lee

In a small Southern town a young girl's life is turned upside down when her father (a prominent lawyer) is chosen to defend a black man against egregious charges.

I know this book is super famous, but I had never read it up until now. And it is amazing! No wonder its considered a classic.

If you’ve never read it I highly recommend you go out and rectify that. It definitely lives up to the hype and its message is just as poignant now as it was then.

“Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life. I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well, but Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year. She hurt my feelings and set my teeth permanently on edge, but when I asked Atticus about it, he said there were already enough sunbeams in the family and to go about my business, he didn’t mind me much the way I was.”
-pg. 92-93

[GN]   87.   [GN]

Ms. Marvel, vol.3:

written by. G. Willow Wilson & Mark Waid
pencils by. Elmo Bondoc, Takeshi Miyazawa, & Humberto Ramos

Kamala Khan’s adventures as Ms. Marvel continue as she is forced to curb Loki’s antics, assist S.H.I.E.L.D. with lunch-room clean-up duty, and learn how to deal with inappropriate advances from young men.

Three volumes in and I’m still loving this series! Seriously, it is so great. & it makes me so happy that the new generation of kids has something like this to introduce them to the mythology of superheroes.

My only complaint with this volume is that a couple of the artists in it gave Kamala a button nose instead of the beautifully hawkish nose Adrian Alphona established her with. And it irks me! Her nose was such a great part of her character’s design!


(still an amazing series though)

“‘What do you want me to say, Kamran? You won? You outsmarted me? You’re right about everything? Fine, whatever. You won. Now let me leave.’

‘No, that’s not what I want. I want you to turn around, walk back the way you came, stand in front of Lineage, and apologize for making me look like an idiot.’

He’s going to hit me. He’s actually going to hit me.

‘But since I know you’re not going to do that, we can settle it right here instead.’

Suddenly, I feel calm. I don’t feel ashamed anymore, or guilty. I realize something very important.

He might look like a handsome prince, but he’s actually a total BUTTWIPE.

‘You want a showdown? You want to pretend this is the big climatic battle of your own personal action film?

Fine with me.’”

-issue 15