Book Haul–Dagon Edition

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Full disclosure: I love Ben Templesmith. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time and I had the joyous opportunity to meet him in Chicago and get my copy of Fell signed (and also take a dopey picture with him). I backed his Kickstarter campaign for his illustrated version of Dagon, a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. This is the first time I’ve backed one of Templesmith’s Kickstarters, but I figured I should let everyone know that I did before I get into the meat of this book haul.

 

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Look at this gorgeous book

Needless to say, I was pretty hyped to get my Kickstarter rewards package, which included a copy of Dagon as well as some previous work by Templesmith. Unfortunately, since I was in Austria busy making a pay check and being merciless by mocking the youths under the pretense of “teaching,” I didn’t get my grubby little hands on the books until recently.

And boy, are these books beautiful.

The Squidder is a book Templesmith created on a previous Kickstarter campaign. The other two books are collections including other artists, with Menton3 being the other artist I’m familiar with (I also met him and got some incredible prints in Chicago.)

Part of the appeal of Templesmith’s art for me is the way he combines digital and traditional medias, conveying the texture of real life drawings under the smooth color. Templesmith’s art oscillates between gritty, slashing inked lines and the beautiful glow of delicate details, often highlighted with saturated colors. It’s a style that suits the strange, something the artist pursues in his work (and tentacles. Lots of tentacles.)

Included photos of both the front and back covers of Lust because they both have me feeling some kinds of ways.

I haven’t read Dagon before, so I’m looking forward to diving into the creepy, dark waters of the story and all of these books make beautiful additions to my collection. As an artist, adding a book to my shelves that includes both story and illustration is something I never stop looking forward to.

All I have to say is, Fell vol 2 when??? WHEN?

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May 2016 Round-Up

So May was a damn, damn good reading month for me – 39 books in 31 days. How did I not learn about audiobooks before this month? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Did you know that you could read while you combed your hair or buttered your bagel? Because you can and it’s magical. What did I even do prior to audiobooks – just sit in silence while I brushed my teeth and drove to work? What a plebeian.

Anyway, this month was overall  a good month – I think most of the books I read were a three-star or higher. But boy, did one anticipated read come up and bite me in the ass hard.

5654c4968d9b1-imageBest of May: Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein

I’m still not over this book, so forgive me if I come off a bit twitterpated here. So I love hard science fiction – like please, tell me your course trajectory in detail and explain to me how you’re going to use Jupiter’s gravity to increase your acceleration. The one issue with hard science fiction is that it has a lot of straight white dudes doing the scienceing, but that’s not the case in Saturn Run. Not only are almost all of the main cast women, but they’re women of color and non-heterosexual women. The captain of the ship is a lesbian woman of color who just happens to be considered the best captain the United States has to offer. The lead engineer is a plain, overweight woman who consistently quips that she would murder any man stupid enough to try and belittle her. There is no storyline of these women overcoming adversity to reach these positions, there are no scenes where they struggle with male crew members questioning their competence – they are just the best at what they do and everyone respects them accordingly. Holy. Shit. HOLY SHIT. These are the kinds of characters I want to see in science fiction. It also doesn’t hurt that Sandford and Ctein write a compelling plot with spot-on pacing that allows these women to show just what they can do either. While the ending was a bit mellow for my tastes and I’m surprised that there’s no apparent sequel given that it leaves a few loose ends, Saturn Run is worth it alone to watch these two stomp on the backs of men.

Worst of MayDark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilmandarkorbit

Similarly, I am still not over this book, but for far different reasons. I had heard such good things about Dark Orbit from people whose opinion I respected, but there was hardly anything salvageable here. While I appreciate the initial premise and the story clipped along at a good pace, it all began to dissolve after the first few chapters. So first of all, this is not a science fiction novel. Nothing about this was scientifically feasible at all, even what Gilman was trying to bill as scientific – the amount of processing power it would take to reconstruct a person atom by atom like her interstellar travel system does is unimaginable and she doesn’t even try to explain it. To compensate for this, she dives into the metaphysical by having characters meditate and use the power of the mind to travel
between the stars. No. Stop it. Even if we concede that her science works because whatever-the-fuck, the crux of the book’s tension – the machine that enables said travel breaking down – is just completely unbelievable. I’m sorry, but if you’re traveling almost 60 light years, you’re not leaving without duplicate parts. We don’t even go to our own fucking moon without parts in triplicate. We keep a spare fucking tire in our cars, for the love of God. And you’re trying to tell me the world’s best and brightest forgot to pack a spare for the most crucial part of their transportation system? No.

It also has some implications regarding women and mental illness the churn my stomach. Gilman plops in a needless comment on the threatened rape of one main character and then states that the other main character finds the constant aggression between her and the head of security sexual appealing. She’s both using sexual violence as a cheap source of character development and implying that sexual violence is arousing, which is disgusting. With the mental illness, it’s implied that one of the main character’s is having her destiny and psychic powers denied to her by doctors who are prescribing her anti-psychotic drugs. She is taken off them, realizes her potential, and saves the day. Excuse me, but… what? Did you just imply that it’s a good idea to mistrust doctors and stop taking the incredibly important drugs that stabilizes your mental health? Because it’s not like people stopping their potentially life-saving medication is a problem in the real world or anything.

So done with this book.

May 2016 Round-up

Von G: Summer has officially begun! Because of my sweet gig teaching the youths, the summer months for me are completely free of any real adult responsibility except trying to eat vegetables (putting cucumber in my water counts right? because a. it makes me feel fancy and b. is delicious) and not drop my new phone.

What are my plans for summer? I actually intend to re-enact the scene from Dune when Maud’dib rides the Sand Worm by traveling to Sand Dunes National Park and running down sand dunes screaming about Shai-Hulud and how Fear is the Mind Killer. That’s a perfectly normal summer activity right? Up there with grilling and drinking lemonade.

It should also be said that I have never related to a character more in my life than Mark Watney from The Martian, who handles every horrible disaster in his life with a “fuck it” attitude and potatoes.

But before I do that, here’s a review of all the sweet books I read in May.

Best of May: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

May turned into a month of anticipated sequels for me. A Court of Thorns and Roses was my top book in March and the sequel was probably the most anticipated new release I’ve ever had. Maas did not disappoint. I have no idea exactly how she managed to top one of my favorite books of the year with a book I liked even more. It’s hard for sequels to even match the first book, let alone exceed it. But she did. Mist and Fury continues the story of the first book with elegance, excitement, and a daring twist of perception of the events of Thorns and Roses. I wouldn’t call it a plot twist, rather Maas slowly reveals how understanding can completely reverse the perception of events and their meaning to the person who experienced them. I am honestly blown away by how carefully this reveal was built up and tended to. Maas doesn’t shy away from treating topics like depression and abuse and manages to tend to them with the delicate care they need to not seem like convenient plot devices to motivate character actions. She gives the trauma the time it deserves, when most writers have their characters bouncing back from unbelievable trauma quickly and without emotional scars. I cannot stop singing the praises of this series and the talent of Maas as a writer.

Worst of May: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

On the other hand, my anticipation for the sequel to Red Queen was met with something that kind of resembled lukewarm, congealed oatmeal without brown sugar to my palate. Aveyard went the completely wrong direction in this sequel, and I’m not sure what happened except the possibility that she watched X-men First Class and decided that was what her book really needed as a plot. Not the cool parts of X-men First Class, mind you (like Fassbender’s beautiful face), but the part where they jet around collecting mutants. Glass Sword dragged—and jetting around picking up new X-men New Bloods, just wasn’t thrilling enough. Add to that the main character’s hard swerve into brutality that wasn’t supported by enough of a catalyst, making it jarring, and the whole book was a confused mess tonally. It’s really too bad, because I thought Red Queen had a lot of promise (and far better character development).