Jonathan Woodward (woodwardiocom) wrote,
Jonathan Woodward

Books: Asimov, Heinlein, Niven, Gaiman, Warlock, Robo, Vertigo

The Winds Of Change by Isaac Asimov

An acceptable little anthology from around 1980, though with a few too many shaggy dog stories for my tastes. I'm starting to find Asimov a bit didactic (and he never got good at writing women), but I can still enjoy his work.

Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century v1 by William H. Patterson, Jr.

I suppose the words "authorized biography" on the cover should have tipped me off that this recounting of Heinlein's life would be a tad worshipful. All the facts are relentlessly backed up by reams of endnotes, but I find the interpretations a bit suspect. (E.g., one of Heinlein's dalliances is presented as nearly a religious epiphany, when there's no indication it was other than adultery, with the woman's husband entirely cuckolded.) Heinlein's endless reluctance to get a real job, even when he and Ginny were arguing over 30 cents, also grates. (I know, circumstances.) All that said, I came out the other end of this book thinking that I would have liked the man, and it improved my opinion of Ginny, too. I'm looking forward to volume 2 (this one ends with his wedding to Ginny).

Ringworld, The Graphic Novel, Part One by Niven, Mandell, Lam

This is an adaptation of Ringworld in a manga style, and suffers, like many adaptations to comics, from being too faithful. Mandell does not know what to cut, what to add, when to put in beat panels, or when to modify Niven's arch dialogue. And, inevitably, the art has trouble dealing with the scale of the Ringworld, as all depictions of Ringworld do. Still, Teela, Speaker, and Nessus are all cute, and the novel is a classic. I'll pick up v2.

The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman

A very dark illustrated novel of two men, Scotland, and revenge. As a father, this was hard to read, but good.

Marvel Masterworks: Warlock v1 by Thomas, Kane, Freidrich, Brown, et al

While DC did occasionally recognize that the 1970s were happening (Green Arrow, "I Am Curious - Black!"), they mostly kept publishing the same kind of formula they'd been doing. Marvel, by contrast, tried very hard to tap into the counter-culture, and while their successes were few, and their failures epic, even the failures are trippy and interesting forty years later. This volume collects Warlock's time on Counter-Earth, where "counter" in this case means both "the Earth on the opposite side of the Sun", and "counter-culture". He's a gold-skinned alien hippie savior who talks like Shakespeare, hangs out with radical youth, and dies like Jesus. Starlin took him further, but he started out here. Far out, man.

Atomic Robo And The Fighting Scientists (v1) by Clevinger & Wegener

Fun, but I kept expecting Robo to rip off his helmet and turn out to be Hellboy. (Though this is certainly more, as I said, fun than the last ten years of Hellboy.) But, yeah, the basic formula of "guy who wants to be human and spends his time punching Nazis and weird menaces in the face while making smart-alec remarks" is not new.

Comic Book Babylon by Tim Pilcher

The story of a man not much older than me, who got involved in the London comics scene at just the right moment to become an assistant at Vertigo Comics' London office, which largely ran on dubious expense reports, gay sex, and lots of ecstasy. Many great comics that I own passed through his hands, but it is now clear why so much of Vertigo's early output seemed disjointed and incomprehensible: Their only plan was to throw things at the wall and hope they stuck. If you've read any biographies in which drugs ruin everything, this is another one, but it's interesting to see how other comics fans live.
Tags: books
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