Posts Tagged 'Comics'

Books Read in October

These “books read” posts may be on the light side for a while. I’m in the middle of rereading the Wheel of Time series and I’ve decided to do a review of the entire series once I’ve finished rather than one for each book.

Shadoweyes: Volume One (12) – Written and illustrated by Sophie Campbell, this webcomic’s first print edition was published by Iron Circus Comics through KickStarter. I backed it. It’s the story of a young black woman living in what feels like a 90’s dystopian mega-city version of Detroit. She gains the ability to turn into a super strong blue skinned creature after getting knocked out on her first night as a vigilante. Soon she discovers that she can’t turn back. As she turns to fighting crime full time she discovers that what she is and what she does is polarizing, changing friendships and relationships along the way. I enjoyed the story, especially the super-cutesy faux My Little Pony loving friend Sparkle, though the pacing isn’t entirely smooth. It’s one of the few ways that you can feel the webcomic origins peaking through this (beautifully printed) volume. And it is a beautiful book — the paper is heavy and feels wonderful, the foil highlights on the cover look great and the whole thing feels really good in your hands — heavy and high quality. Volume one ends with a pretty serious cliffhanger and I’m eager to see what volume two holds.

The Sleep of Reason (31) – Another Iron Circus publication, this horror comic anthology was a perfect Halloween read. Over 25 creepy stories ranging from as few as 6 pages to the mid 20s. The art and stories cover a range of styles, from cutesy to realistic and campfire ghost stories to downright disturbing.

Books Read in September

The Letter Killers ClubSigizmund Krzhizhanovsky‘s 1920’s exploration of the paradox of ideas and stories living as “pure conceptions”, entities in their own right, and their perversion when they are put to pen. Like pinned butterflies, beautiful but static. Dead. The frame for this exploration is the eponymous Club, writers gathering in secret to share stories plucked from the empty bookshelves that surround them. The thread of narrative weaves around the stories told at the club, themes and characters bleeding from one to the next as the storytellers jockey for position. I highly recommend reading the introduction as it provided quite a bit of context I would have missed otherwise.

Baggywrinkles – I helped Kickstart this comic back in 2015. It’s a mixture of autobiography, nautical history and treatise on sailcraft. And it is extremely adorable. You’ll learn the difference between a stay and a line, how to set up a plank (don’t), and all about the history of scurvy.

Shadoweyes: Volume One
Another comic project I backed on Kickstarter, Shadoweyes was written and illustrated by Sophie Campbell  This is the webcomic’s first print edition and was published by Iron Circus Comics.  It’s the story of a young black woman living in what feels like a 90’s dystopian mega-city version of Detroit.  She gains the ability to turn into a super strong blue skinned creature after getting knocked out her first night out as a vigilante.  Soon she discovers that she can’t turn back.  As she turns to fighting crime full time she discovers that what she is and what she does is polarizing, changing friendships and relationships along the way.  I enjoyed the story, especially the super-cutesy faux My Little Pony loving friend Sparkle, though the pacing isn’t entirely smooth.  It’s one of the few ways that you can feel the webcomic origins peaking through this (beautifully printed) volume.  And it is a beautiful book — the paper feels great, the foil highlights on the cover make it stand out and the whole thing just feels really good in your hands — heavy and high quality.  Volume one ends with a pretty serious cliffhanger and I’m eager to see what’s waiting in volume two.

Books read in November and December

Injection Volume 1 (11/8) – The first trade paperback for Warren Ellis’ new series. It’s grim and weird and I’m excited to see where he takes it. The art is really good for the most part, though there were a couple sections that were hard for me to follow what was happening.

Elektrograd (11/18) – The latest short in Warren Ellis’ Summon Books series is a retro future noir story based in an experimental city inspired by real life experimental architecture. It reads like a graphic novel (and the afterword confirms that it was originally written with that in mind).

@liketocontinue (12/7) – Matt Webb’s robot poem was great fun to read. It comes in 36 Tweets and the only way to get the next one is to hit the like button. It’s got word play, experimentation with form, cleverness. Robots and emotions. Robot mediated poetry at it’s finest.

Speak (12/8) – Absolutely wonderful.  Looping, self referential at multiple levels, poignant and, at times, heartbreaking.  The most human take on advanced AI I’ve come across.

Virtually Human (12/14) – This is a book of philosophy. If you approach it expecting something more technical, as I did, you will be disappointed. It took me a couple of chapters to realign my expectations but once I did I was well rewarded. The main thrust of the book is this: conscious artificial intelligences are coming and with them a host of philosophical, legal and moral quandaries. She focuses primarily on a type of artificial consciousness she thinks will be most prevalent, which she terms “mindclones.” A mindclone is a cyber consciousness made from the digital exhaust of a biological one. Creating a mindclone, in her view, will not create a new person, but merely extend the consciousness of the biological original to a new substrate. She argues that they will be the same person and legally and culturally recognized as such.

Unfortunately she seems to have trouble coming down on what mindclones and other AIs will be able to consent to. While much of the philosophical and moral arguments are inclusive of these new consciousnesses in humanity, the more technical sections seem to waffle between treating them as consenting adults and as efficiency improving tools whose owners can tweak them at will.  Nevertheless I found many of the philosophical arguments intriguing, and it’s a pleasant surprise that someone is thinking these things already.

Suicide by Jaguar (12/17) – David Landsberger‘s first book of poetry is short and sweet. The overwhelming majority of my family’s American contingent is based in Miami, giving me just enough familiarity with the city to recognize it in these poems. Unsurprisingly my favorites were those for and about Chicago including the sweet summer capsule of Chicago Haiku 1 and Chicago Elegy, a bittersweet homage to urban wildlife.  All the poems are translated into Spanish which is appropriate for both Chicago and Miami.  One day I hope to speak Spanish well enough to comment on the quality of the translations, but for now I’ll just say it makes me happy that they’re there.

Submergence (12/26) – The language in this sparse and introspective novel is often lyrical, though the narrative meanders and is ultimately unsatisfying.  I found myself really enjoying certain passages of this book but never really understanding where it was going.  I’m not sure if those are issues with the book or the reader, but I have a hard time recommending it.

Books read in July

Freakangels (1) – I recently remembered that Warren Ellis’ Freakangels comic was available online in its entirety for free. So of course I went ahead and devoured it immediately. It was a great comics binge. It’s a coming of age story and a tale of arrested development for a group of super human psychics living in the flooded husk of London. I wanted it to last forever, but like any good coming of age story it had to end sometime. Paul Duffield’s art is fantastic and the writing is both playful and grim. If you’re reading it online in its original format you’ll be treated to the webcomics standard of skip week explanations and the occasional con report. Kind of interesting in a historical way but really skippable if you want to.

Women Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue (19) – This special issue of Fantasy magazine was the result of reaching a stretch goal on Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction! KickStarter (which I backed). This issue is filled with short stories that ranged from good to great (including an excellent retelling of the Cinderella story by T. Kingfisher) and so-so interviews. There’s also a super useful section of women writing fantasy compiled by the contributors. I had mixed feelings about that section because on the one hand I hadn’t read or heard of many of the recommended authors and books and felt like that makes me part of the problem; but on the other hand, here were a bunch of highly recommended fantasy books I hadn’t read yet*!

*At least one of these books is already on it’s way to my house 🙂


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