Thoughts on things, mostly books.
Poe Dameron was the only thing I liked about Force Awakens, outside of Leia. BB8 was nice, but (he's R2, right? Finn was interesting but confusing, and Rey was a Mary Sue (not surprising since Luke was a Marty). But Poe was fun.
There is not much back story about Poe, and there are some actions that make me question certain plot points. Look, I know all the myth points about SW, but honesty, there are so many plot holes in the movies that you ride a dragon carrying a train though them. And yes, I love SW, but I also can't turn off English lit brain. Sorry.
It's a fun series, not deep, but entertaining enough. Nice addition of two women in Squadron which made me happy.
Poe's sexuality isn't discussed here. I understand the need for representation, but considering Quinn was crushing on Rey during the movie, I'm not entirely sure it's a love match for Poe and Quinn.
Personally, I think Poe is husband to his droid.
This just goes to show how well those lists for work me, doesn't it?
Qualifies for - Demons Square (uncalled, but read)
This graphic novel makes us of Japanese folklore, in particular folklore surronding demons and even includes a brief folklore overview at the end, describing various demons used in the story.
Rori is a young girl whose parents have divorced. Her father is Irish, her mother is Japanese. She was living with her father, apparently something major went down, and she goes to Japan to stay with the mother. The conflict of being trapped between two cultures is done particularly well. However, the reader should know that there are triggers, including cutting. This is not a book for the young.
Rori discovers that she has magical abilites and mets up with three other teens who also have powers. Then things start to get out of hand as demons close in because they want something.
The characters are interesting. My only quibble is the kitsune who look more like wolves than like foxes.
The two-star rating is somewhat misleading and perhaps unfair. The basic premise of the book is good and interesting. The basic premise is simple – Katherine’s job is that her consciousness inhabits constructs of animals. She does this for study. So, for instance, she wants to study foxes, she inhabits the body of a fox. Her real body is during this time connected to a basically life support. Over the course of the novel, secrets about the company she works for are revealed and you get the general idea.
Geen excels at imaging a person’s reaction to have as many limbs as, say, a squid. When she writes as Katherine adjusting to a different form, the book is really good. The problem is that when Katherine, Kit, leaves those animals you don’t give damn about her because she isn’t a fully realized character.
Now this could be in part because Geen wants to dwell on the question of real life versus the life of unreal – i.e. inhabiting a body that is really a construct as opposed to your own body. While sometimes the book does this, it really isn’t done well and Kit really does seem to lack any ability for interception. This might be because this science fiction book is really a young adult book. There are good ideas here but nothing really gets examined and it almost feels like there is another story here. The bits about Katherine’s past are interesting, a tad, but they come so late that you just don’t care. The romance just feels there.
Yet, I must admit my problem started much earlier and it isn’t just to this book. It was just a bit really. Kit is describing the machines that keep her body alive while she is animal surfing, and notes that there is a cup for when women get their period. She then tells the reader that she hasn’t had a period for years.
Now, later in the book it is revealed that the process of animal surfing does harm the teens (who are best at it), but it is never clear if Kit’s lack of a period is because of this or some other issue. In fact, it is implied that it isn’t a result of animal surfing. She never seems curious about it. This is strange considering she apparently wrote some really good biology papers so it seems she has some scientific knowledge. Wouldn’t she wonder? I mean maybe she has an IUD, but then why mention the period at all. But Kat is already extra special because no one has animal surfed as long as she has. She’s the bestest. The lack of bleeding seems connected to this.
And she had her period at one point because she hasn’t had one in a while, in years, which implies she had one. Wouldn’t she wonder?
Now, look, I don’t except the female characters to tell readers every time they have to pull out a pad or what’s it. I just presume that’s happening, so when a character tells me information about a period, I pay attention.
And this isn’t the only book where I have seen this.
In much genre fiction, regardless of target age range, there is a tendency for a female character to be the sole female character who can do anything right. She is the unique female character. Written badly, she is simply a man with boobs who looks down on every other female character. If you have read the Anita Blake books that’s an example. At times, the character doesn’t have to be written badly for this to make an appearance. Kitty the werewolf in some of the books in the series is the unique and extra special woman. I’ve noticed that sometimes the extra special woman will not have a period.
Why is this even thought about? Here, it might be an excuse for why Kit can keep working, yet conversations with others in the book indicate that it isn’t simply a biological but also mental reason why people stop animal surfing.
The only answer I am left with is the lack of the period makes the female character more acceptable. To whom? I’m not sure. Perhaps it is wish fulfillment too. But I don’t think so. There is something strange and discomfiting about this. Perhaps it is because there are still societies were women are exiled because they are considered unclear during that time of the month. Perhaps it is because something natural is being seen as icky – strange in a book where biological animal function is discussed. But I think it comes down to specialness and pureness. A girl isn’t a girl unless she is unbloodied. Now, you can have the girl without the nasty woman bits.
And that frightens me to be honest. It seems to be saying, you can’t be a woman. Not really because it is unclear. Not nice. Just icky. Perhaps I’m just an old grouch. Perhaps I’ve had it with things after hearing about an all-female Lord of the Flies movie, created by two men.
But this rejection just seems so wrong. Look, I’m not saying she has do a Greer and taste her menstrual blood, hell, I don’t even think the period should really rate a mention unless it has a truly important role – pregnancy, starvation. What upsets me is the fact that women writers feel it necessary to point out that the female heroines are even more special because they don’t have a period.
What this book has :
challenge of gender roles
a black princess who has sisters
a female half dwarf with a really big hammer
a boy who loves his sisters
a send up of women warriro chic
a send-up of princess stories
and to top off - Adrienne
August 2017 My Book Box Non-Fiction Selection
This first volume is offered for free. It is in French. Luckily, I can read French (my accent is horrible). The blurb bills it as Hunger Games meets Starship Troopers. I would say it is more Ender's Game meets Starship Troopers. There is much action and fighting. It is good sciene fiction with strong female characters.
Can't promise I will actually stick to this, but these are the opitions on deck. For each one, I've tried to give more than one because, well, you all are readers, so you know.
Cozy Mystery - Deadly Magic, Ghostly Paws, A Scone to Die for
Murder Most Foul - SPOR, Alienist
Gothic - The Woman Who Had Two Navels, Mysteries of Paris
Terrifying Women - Suzy McKee Chanars, Tanith Lee, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Magic Realism - Nights at the Circus (This is a given)
Vampires - The Red Death, Vampires of Great Britain, Blood Maidens
American Horror Story - Hellbender, Cherie Priest, Southern Spirits
Classic Horror - Yarbro, Stoker, The Return
Terror in a Small Town - Fatal Puzzle, something by Louise Penny, Closed Circles. A book about a German witchcraft trial
In A Dark Wood -Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Ghosts =Merrily Watkins, Among Others, Ghosts by Gaslight
Witches - Anita, The Witches (Salem)
Amutuer Sleuth - Curious Incident of Dog in the Night Time, Tradition of Death
Darker London - London 1849, something by Ruth Rendell
Horror - Gone with the Dead, House of Leaves
Haunted Houses - I have so many haunted house books that this whatever
Supernatural - Nate Temple, Conan Doyle
80s Horror - Yarbro, Barker
Romantic Suspense - Gone with the Dead, Eveyln Anthony
Monsters - wide open here, too much so will see what happens
Werewolves - Moon Dance or one of the zillon others I have
Country House Mystery - Art of Murder, Christie
Diverse Voices - Due, Butler
Demons - Watkins, Screwtape Letters, Devils & Demons
Yep, dinosaurs are having sex in this graphic novel and eating baby dinosaurs. Because you know what, that's what dinosaurs do.
I am more of a fan of reading animal stories (I blame Watership Down for this) then Dinosaurs. Mostly because my mother and brother were dinosaur nuts. I got dragged to so much dinosaur shit. Honesty, and it was always dinosaur shit. Never anything else.
But I like this rather real series about dinosaurs being dinosaurs.
Recently, I read my way through the Collected On-going Star Trek, its follow up series, and two special limited runs. I think it was a reaction to the Orange One’s comments about Charlottesville.
The comics take place in the Kelvin Timeline. For those of you who are slightly clueless, this is the timeline of the three most recent Star Trek movies (the ones with Pine, Quinto, Saldana, Pegg, Urban, Cho, and Yelchin). What I loosely call Star Trek Moviedom vs Star Trek Tvdom. Yes, I know there were Star Trek movies with the originals, but they were television series first. I actually like the Kelvin timeline for a few reasons, besides the fact that Pine, Urban, Cho, and Saldana star in it. (And Quinto, but I hadn’t really seen anything he had been in before. I didn’t like Heroes). The fact that the supporting characters are given expanded roles makes me so happy for in the original series my two favorite characters were Uhura and Sulu (did anyone else ship them?). I’m perfectly fine and actually like the Spock/Uhura relationship. While I understand the whole idea and belief system behind the gay couple of Spock/Kirk or Spock/McCoy or McCoy/Kirk aka the gay threesome and reading stories where it occurs does not bug me, lately I’ve wondered if the homosexual takes on it isn’t simply an outgrowth of the idea that men cannot have close relationships with other men (who are not related by blood) unless there is a homosexual undercurrent. This reasoning seems to be a bit sexist too me. Sulu being married to a man and having a daughter didn’t annoy more, though I think I understand why Takei was a bit put off by it. By having Sulu gay in an alternate universe, it appears to be one is gay because of nurture as opposed to nature, which would dismiss the genetic truth. Also, why not simply create a fresh homosexual new character? But okay. The only thing about the new version of Trek I didn’t enjoy was in the first two movies where we had women stripping down to bra and panties because J J wanted to see Uhura and Carol naked. Funny how that stopped when Pegg and Lin took over. Additionally, I wasn’t too thrilled about the problems of the Spock/Uhura relationship in the second and third movies. Why both plot arcs make sense considering what happened to Vulcan, the third movie felt it happening somewhat late, and quite frankly, please don’t make that the only reason why she is there. To be fair, Pegg and Lin didn’t do this as much, and the inverse of McCoy/Spock discussing Spock’s relationship (twice) instead of Uhura doing with her girlfriends was nice.
But I do like the Kelvin timeline.
Star Trek Vols 1-13 is the first series, starting roughly around the time of the first movie and leading up to the third. The first volume occurs right after the first movie. Countdown to Darkness take place before the second, Manifest Destiny after the second, and Boldly Go occurs after the third.
Mike Thompson is a good Star Trek writer, and there is much to love about his exploration of both the series and characters. In Vols 1-13, there are some drawbacks. At times, as in most comics, the artwork can be a bit uneven. At some points, one has the feeling that the story arcs would have been better if given one or two additional issues, and sometimes the alternate takes on the original series plots doesn’t match the original in terms of storytelling.
However, these flaws are outweighed by the good. One of Johnson’s strengths is his use of minor/background characters from the film. We see Darwin (the black women at the helm at some points), we get Keenser’s story, we get a story from Cupcake (you know the red shirt with the beard) about redshirts. There is a recurring head of security who is a kick ass woman, perhaps a nod to the tragic mistake of TNG killing of Yar. The background characters are far more racially mixed than those of the series or even the movies. It’s pretty clue. There also isn’t much underwear showing or Kirk having sex with aliens. Women characters are active and not damsels in distress. Damsels in distress save themselves in this series. (Uhura saves Spock twice!).
For me, the test of any Star Trek story is the amount of time that the supporting crew is given, largely because they were my favorite characters. Johnson does give Sulu, Uhura, Scotty, and Chekov more time in the spotlight (Chekhov gets the least). We are even given their “origins” or their Academy stories – and McCoy’s as well. At first glance, it looks like Uhura’s story is simply going to be that of her relationship to Spock, but Johnson uses this to go into Uhura’s past, and even refers to this past Boldly Go #9. It’s cool. Both Chekhov’s and Sulu are given pasts that show them at the Academy – Chekhov in the desire to fit in, and Sulu as a principled and ambitious character he is. They also get larger roles in general story lines, with both Sulu and Uhura getting the command chair, and in Sulu’s case leading an away mission. Sulu’s husband and daughter are also referred to in the Boldly Go series more than once.
What I really love is how wonderful Uhura is shown here. While in some of the stories, she plays a supporting role for Spock, in more she comes into her own. Johnson also shows repeatedly why linguistics and language are important. The one flaw is that she is still the only primary female character. It’s true that in a few issues Carol Marcus appears, but she and Uhura have no interaction, and after a few issues, Marcus disappears. Galia, Uhura’s roommate from the first movie, pops up again, and the panels that show the friendship she has with Uhura are immensely well done. Additionally, there is a reference to slut shaming/victim blaming that Galia handles extremely well. Galia, and her brother Kai, who was working on the Enterprise, get their own storyline. I wish that they had kept Galia because too often it feels that Uhura is the only woman in a man’s world.
And this idea does seem to find its way into the Manifest Destiny miniseries where the crew does battle with Klingons – including one of the greatest speeches about Klingons I have ever read.
Thompson’s favorite playground seems to be alternate realities. There is a Mirror, Mirror arc that shows the reader the Mirror verse of Kelvin, but also a couple alternate timelines – one where Spock arrives in an almost Mirror, Mirror world, one with a sex shift crew (i.e. Captain Jane Kirk), and finally, one involving Q. The Q storyline is actually dam good, and while Picard makes an appearance, a cameo of sorts, the major guests stars are the characters from the best Trek to ever appear on the tube – DS9. Honestly, the volume of this arc – the Q Gambit – is a stand out. It’s worth reading if nothing else. There is also a special story to celebrate the anniversary. This story features all the doctors from TV Star Treks in one story. There is even the best doc ever – Dr. Pulaski.
The last collection 13 contains an Old Spock story as well as cross over with the original Trek. In the crossover Thompson plays with not only the different situations that the characters are in, but also why they look different. It was a nice nod to the differences, not only in a fitter McCoy say, but also differences in design.
Boldly Go is the follow up to the On-Going. I found it to be a bit weaker, though this seems to be a result of the temporary diversion of the Enterprise crew while they await the completion of the new Enterprise. Kirk’s temporary command includes a first officer who is a woman, a strong and capable woman whose decision eventually leads to Sulu taking over the first officer slot. The characters are good, and Jaylah returns with a bunch of cadets, including a few women who talk to each other. The stand out issues for me are 9 and 10. 9 features Spock and Uhura on New Vulcan. It looks at their relationship but the primary story is a mystery only Uhura can solve because of her humanity and her language skills. Issue 10 concerns Scotty, the cadets, Keenser, and Kevin. It is really funny.
What the writers, artists, and the rest of the crew have managed to do is to capture the power of Star Trek that Gene Rodenberry had – the togetherness, the crew coming together, the better world idea that feels so reassuring after recent events. Rodenberry’s vision of what we could be was so powerful that it stands the test of time.