31 December 2004
Not very many words this time (two, actually). Just a big splash page. With nudity (artfully covered). If you're homophobic, you don't want to look at this page. Then again, if you're homophobic, what are you doing reading my comic in the first place? Or even associating with me? Go away.
I'm now two weeks behind on drawing this comic. My eight-week lead has shrunk to six, and may shrink even more before the weekend is over. But I may have come up with a way to catch up by the end of next weekend. Maybe. It's not that I have to be eight weeks ahead, it's just that if I am, I don't have to worry about getting behind for real. So I have to try to get some drawing in today. Though I'm also itching to get back to work on White Foxes (after a veeerrry long break), and the Friesland Stories (formerly known as the Vinland Stories, formerly known as the Cobbleshore Stories). And then there's Three Sisters. I haven't felt this anxious about not working on fiction in a while. I'm even thinking of postponing applying (or even not applying at all!) to NSCAD so I can get more writing out of the way first.
30 December 2004
- Wolf's Brother, a novel by Megan Lindholm. It's the sequel to The Reindeer People which I think I read ages ago.
- Dinosaur Lives, non-fiction by John R. Horner and Edwin Hobb. I'm on a bit of a dinosaur thing lately. This one had a green price tag, which turned out to mean it was 50% off. Woo hoo!
- Into Print: Guides to the Writing Life. Something to review for work.
Then came Christmas. This year was big on dvds, and not so good for books, but I did get some tasty ones:
- The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket. Selena gave me this one, which was the one book of the series I was missing. Yay!
- A Series of Unfortunate Events blank book. This one was also from Selena. Since I don't have a daily-calendar-type journal this year, I think I'll use this to record what I read each day and make notes on things to read in the future.
- Dragonology, Dugald A. Steer (ed). This is a really cool "if dragons were real" type book, with things in envelopes, skin "samples" and other neat stuff. It was from Sue.
- Gypsies and Fairies: Evidence for a Theory by Robert Dawson. Also from Sue, this is a slight monograph hypothesizing that many fairy sightings were really Gypsies. It looks like the fellow has tried to use statistics in some way, which is a little dubious, given the type of data, but I'll wait till I've read it to say anything else. There should be some interesting information in it, though.
I also got some Bolen Books gift certificates, which I shall come to in a moment.
Then, Mum and Gramma and Sue and I ventured up to Nanaimo, to hit Value Village. It's been a while since the four of us made the trek. There is a dollar store in the same mall, so we went there first, and--lo and behold--there were books. Dollar store books are usually not worth even looking at, but this store appeared to have acquired some remainders from somewhere. There were many tempting ones, but I settled on four:
- Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori, a YA novel billed as "Harry Potter meets Lemony Snicket in a high-tech setting." I'm a little dubious about that, but it sounds like fun, anyway.
- The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman by Angela Carter. Carter's The Bloody Chamber is one of my desert island books, so I had to have this one.
- The Double Helix by James D. Watson. "A personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA." How cool. I am such a geek.
- Dragon Hunter by Charles Gallenkamp. This one's an account of Roy Chapman Andrews' fossil-hunting expeditions in the Gobi Desert. Dinosaurs are cool. Have I mentioned that?
Then it was on to Value Village. It was Tuesday, so it was seniors' discount day. Mum's over 60 now, so we get her to buy our stuff so we can have 30% off. I found quite a few things (all books, though):
- The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I've read the Sherlock Holmes canon; time for Proffesor Challenger.
- Masterpieces of Horror, edited by Rosamund Morris. This is an anthology of short fiction by the likes of the aforementioned Doyle, Ambrose Bierce, Poe, Dunsany, and various others. Should be good, spooky reading.
- The Eerie Book. Another anthology of short fiction and excerpts from similar authors as the above.
- Chocolat by Joanne Harris. I saw the movie and quite liked it, so I figure the book is probably worth a read. Since books are usually better than their movies, I expect I'll like this, too.
- The Land of the Rising Yen by George Mikes. This one is about the less written-of aspects of Japanese culture (or at least it sounds like it from the back cover blurb). If nothing else, it should help me get more of the background stuff in manga and anime.
- The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim. This is a classic on the functions of folklore, both lauded and criticized. It's probably about time I read it.
- Evolution: The History of an Idea (revised edition) by Peter J. Bowler. Evolution is one of those things we should probably all understand a little better than we do. This was published in 1989, so it won't have any recent stuff, but it should still be good.
- Dinosaur Safari Guide: Tracking North America's Prehistoric Past by Vincenzo Costa. More dinosaurs! This one's a guide to sites and exhibits on this continent.
- Jacques Cousteau by Lesley A. DuTemple. This one has the logos of both A&E and Biography on the cover. Jacques Cousteau was my hero for a long time when I was a kid. I was going to be a marine biologist, and I used to watch Cousteau's tv specials all the time. I still have the few volumes of his book series that I collected back then.
Phew! And I'm not done yet. After Value Village, we decided to have lunch and then make a quick trip to the nearby Salvation Army. They used to have really cheap books--like "fill a grocery bag for two bucks" cheap. They're not so cheap now--$1 for paperbacks and $2 for hardcovers--but still reasonable. And "paperback" means anything in soft covers, so even huge paperbacks are only $1. There wasn't a big selection, but I scored some writing books:
- Three Genres: The Writing of Poetry, Fiction, and Drama by Stephen Minot. I used to have a copy of this, but gave it to an ex-boyfriend (and almost immediately regretted doing so). I'm pleased to have a copy again.
- Eudora Welty: One Writer's Beginnings
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I keep hearing good things about this one.
- The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach. I noticed this one because the title is the same as Robin Skelton's excellent out-of-print how-to-write-poetry book. Not the same book, but it looks like it should be good.
- Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Not a writing book, obviously, but a good thing to have a copy of.
Now back to those Bolen Books gift certificates. I got one from Dad and one from Jay and the kids, which added to up to a nice fat amount. Alas that books are so expensive new. Anyway, we drove down to Victoria today and wandered around Bolen Books, trying to decide what to buy. It was really, really hard. As usual, I had to put several things back, and still went over my gift certificate total. Here's what I finally settled on:
- Sunshine by Robin McKinley. She's one of my all-time favourite writers, and has been for a very long time. The only book of hers I'm missing now is Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits, which she wrote with Peter Dickinson.
- Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black. I was actually looking for the last two Spiderwick Chronicles books, but decided to get this one instead, to leave more money for other books. It looks tasty, though. Very.
- Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle volume 1, by CLAMP. Bolens has a small manga section now. Not really much in it that I needed, but they did have the first three volumes of this series. Selena got it, too. (My world-domination-by-manga-and-anime plan proceeds . . .)
- The Pirate Queen: In Search of Grace O'Malley and Other Legendary Women of the Sea by Barbara Sjoholm. I've said it before: pirates are cool. Especially women pirates.
- The Best American Science and Nature Writing: 2004 edited by Steven Pinker. There were sooo many interesting science books, this seemed like a good way to get a taste of many writers. Plus, I read a good review of it in Skeptical Inquirer.
There were many good books I had to leave behind, including those two Spiderwick books I mentioned (and I didn't even look that closely at the YA section, because I knew I'd find too many). I almost got a book on James Watt and the invention of the steam engine. There were a couple of books on the prehistory of Britain that I almost got, plus a whole lot of fiction (and all those great science books). I didn't even look in most of the sections. It's always so hard to choose just a few books, but I'm happy with what I did choose. And added to my thrift shop bonanza, I'm very book happy this holiday.
29 December 2004
- The Bloody Red Baron by Kim Newman. This is the sequel to Anno-Dracula, and is basically more of the same: a solid steampunk vampire novel that continues from the question "What if van Helsing et al hadn't killed Dracula? This time, the focus is on World War I, in which Dracula has made himself a major figure. There are other characters from the previous book, but the main character is new, and the plot focuses on his determination to take out Manfred von Richthofen (aka The Red Baron). I think this book is somewhat better written than its predecessor. It was a fun read, anyway.
- Threshold by Caitlín R. Kiernan. Once upon a time, I had a gift
certificate to Bolen Books, and wandered about in the store trying to decide what to buy. In the end, it came down to a tossup between Threshold and China Miéville's Perdido Street Station. For whatever reason, I decided to go with Perdido. I think I thought the store would have fewer copies, and that Threshold would still be there the next time I went in (why I thought this, I have no idea). Anyway, next time I was there, there were plenty of copies of Perdido on the shelf, and not a single one of Threshold. Sigh. I finally got a copy on eBay. And now I've read it. And it was really, really good. The writing was amazing--a nice combination of literary and readable (actually, I think good literature should always be readable, but not everyone seems to agree). The story was dark and spooky and . . . addictive, perhaps. You know, the old "I couldn't put it down." I think I am in love with this writing, and intend to find more of Kiernan's work at the soonest opportunity. The funny thing is, I've read her comics work, and I read her blog nearly every day, but it's taken me this long to read her fiction. Perhaps there is some malfunction in my brain?
- The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket. Here's another book that's more of the same, only better. Snicket's books keep getting longer, but they are also fuller. Richer? Anyway, it saddens me to think that many adults will miss out on this series because they don't read kids' fiction, and that even many of those who do will likely give up after the first couple of volume because the series comes across as quite repetitive at first. On the other hand, it fills me with glee to think I've read something secret. (Well, okay, it's a hugely popular series, so I'm really only deluding myself, but what the hell.)
I'm rather pleased that Threshold is number 50. It seems appropriate that a book that had such an effect on me (even to the point of making me feel more positive about my own writing and making me want to get back at it more seriously) should occupy this prominent position. I made it to 50, and 50 is Threshold (or whatever).
I made it to blogging this before it got too out of hand, so the list won't be quite as monumental as usual. I think I do need to get some more Western comics back into my diet. You know, to balance things out.
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger (volume 7) by Kazue Koike and Goseki Kojima.
- Ranma 1/2 volume 2 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Ranma 1/2 volume 3 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind volume 4 by Hayao Miyazaki. Woo hoo! The comic shops (two different ones) kept not having this volume in, and then when I was supposed to be doing some last-minute holiday shopping, I found it. Yay!
- Prétear volume 1 by Kaori Naruse. I wasn't expecting much of this book--it's just too pretty and pink--but I found myself liking it quite a lot. And anyway, a book that uses fairytale motifs can't be all bad, can it? This is a Snow White retelling (well, sort of), though it reads more like Cinderella at first, with a stepmother and mean stepsisters. But there are seven dwarfs, except they're not dwarfs, they're pretty boy knights of various ages. I will be looking for volume two (I do kind of wish the author hadn't made the Snow White connection explicit by putting it in the subtitle, though--I like to figure these things out for myself).
- Kwaïdan by Jung and Jee-Yun. I picked this up on a whim when it was one sale, because it has such a gorgeous cover. Well, the gorgeous art continues throughout, in full colour, no less (manga is usually black and white, sometimes with a few colour pages at the beginning). The story was a haunting ghost story and love story, with love spanning ages, etc, etc. There's some cool fight action, too, and some really creepy child ghosts. The only real complaint I had was that the nice thick stock that the pages were printed on--while it looked great--made the pages hard to turn (yeah, pout pout). It's nice, sometimes, to have graphic novel that stands alone and isn't part of an endless series.
- Stone volume 1 by Hiromoto-Sin-Ichi. Here's another one I wasn't expecting much from. The art really isn't very good--there's some nice background stuff like buildings and machinery, but the people are mostly pretty amateurish. The story sounded like fairly standard fare. But when I read it, I was much more involved than I thought I would be. I still wouldn't call it great, but it's probably worth another look--at least if I can get the next volume cheap or borrow it.
I probably won't read any more fiction until the new year (I'll start with Perdido Street Station, which I still haven't read). I have a couple of non-fiction library books to get out of the way, and then some non-fiction things-to-review. Yup.
25 December 2004
Between episodes of Blue Seed, an anime we rented in our last batch of movies, I'm getting a head start on the various holiday food I'm responsible for, and finishing up decorating the presents for Selena and Ryan ('Lena's is a little more complicated, involving scavenger hunt-ish clues). I am now getting close to being two pages behind where I want to be on Fey (which still leaves me six pages ahead of the current page, fortunately--or it would if PhotoShop would work like it's supposed to and not freeze so often).
Now back to cooking rice and decorating.
24 December 2004
20 December 2004
19 December 2004
- Science Fiction by Gaslight edited by Sam Moskowitz. The lengthy subtitle of this book is "A History and Anthology of Science Fiction in the Popular Magazines, 1891-1911," which landed it in the non-fiction section of the library. It really only has a longish essay on the history of SF in the magazines, and the bulk of the book is anthology. Anyone at all interested in SF history ought to have a look at this. All but three of the authors (Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and William Hope Hodgson) were people I'd never heard of, who presumably dissapeared into the ranks of the unknown. Some of the stories were quite good, though (the Wells was the best), and even the ones that weren't had a definite retro appeal. It was a lot of fun to read this book. Here's a line from one of the humour stories ("An Experiment in Gyro-Hat" by Ellis Parker Butler):
When a shoe is on, it is full of foot, and when a glove is on, it is full of hand; but a top hat is not, and never can be, full of head . . .It made me laugh.
- In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches. I picked this up because I'm a sucker for fiction about books, even though such fiction is often disappointing. I almost didn't read past the first chapter. The writing was very, very good, but the character in that chapter so turned me off I didn't really want to read about him anymore. But, the writing really was good, so I made myself try reading some more. Thankfully, the character from the first chapter wasn't the main character. And it turned out to be a really wonderful book, even though I'm a little dubious about novels in which the author names the main character after themself. I don't know why, really. I guess I don't really see the point.
- Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay. Wow, what a fascinating book! Part travel narrative, part historic scavenger hunt, and very well written. Colour really is an interesting thing. This book focusses mostly on dyes and paints, where they came from, and how artists obtained and prepared them through history. But it's also about the author's travels around the world and the people and places she encountered while searching for those paints and dyes. This is one I'll want to read again.
Plus, I also read a book called Japanese Comickers, but I'm not including it on the list because it didn't have all that much text--just lots of gorgeous pictures and some how-to info on the processes of each artist (though in most cases, not enough info to actually try it for yourself, unless you're already familiar with the techniques and software).
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Black Wind (volume 5) by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.
- Ragnarök volume 7 by Myung-Jin Lee.
- Ragnarök volume 8 by Myung-Jin Lee.
- Ragnarök volume 9 by Myung-Jin Lee.
- Between the Sheets by Erica Sakurazawa. This is sort of the manga equivalent of a literary short story. It's about two women--best friends--and their love lives. One of the friends falls in love with (or becomes obsessed with) the other. The art has a sketchy feel that suits the story. I don't think this book worked quite as well as it could have, but it was generally well-handled, and enough to make me look for more from Ms Sakurazawa. Also, it's a nice change from all the fantasy manga I've been reading lately.
- Ragnarök volume 10 by Myung-Jin Lee. So, this was the last of the volumes of this that I got in my cheap eBay lot, and I still can't decide if I'll keep reading. I probably won't pay full price--it just wasn't that good--but if I find another batch on eBay, I may pick it up. The art's pretty nice (and I like the switch to less-revealing but still very cool costumes). I'm not sure it really needed three volumes (that's volumes, not chapters) to get through one battle, but maybe I just wasn't as into the characters as I was meant to be.
- InuYasha volume 19 by Rumiko Takahashi. I don't know when volume 20 is due out, but I want it now. I'm totally, completely hooked.
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Lanterns for the Dead (volume 6) by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.
- Trigun volume 1 by Yasuhiro Nightow. Old west meets the space age, and lots of tongue-in-cheek to go along with the action. The main character, Vash the Stampede, is a pacifist gunslinger who won't actually kill anyone, but always seems to end up making a big mess. Which is never his fault. I put off reading this because it's so hugely popular (see my blurb about Hellsing, somewhere back there, for more about this), but I'm glad I did get to it. It's not exactly a serious piece of fiction, but it's fun and stylish, and I'll be hunting up volume 2.
- Priest volume 1 by Min-Woo Hyung. I'm not really sure what made me bid on this (and on volume 8) on eBay. It looked kind of cool, I guess. Anyway, I really like it. It reminds me of Hellsing, except with undead minions of evil instead of vampires (oh, wait . . . ) and with a possessed priest instead of a super-vampire working for the good guys. Plus, it's set in the old west. The art is really gorgeous (if you can call blood and gore and ugly demon-things gorgeous) and stylish. The story has enough mystery to keep the reader engrossed. I'll be looking for volume 2 for sure.
- Maison Ikkoku: The Hounds of War (volume 12) by Rumiko Takahashi. I think the end is drawing near. The was less slapstick and more seriousness, but all the charm. The library better have the next volume or I shall be very, very cross.
- Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom (volume 3) by Ted Naifeh. A new Courtney Crumrin book is a cause for celebration around here. Naifeh does marvelous drawings and he writes really well, too. This is an all-ages book that really does have something for all ages (and all genders, too). Probably, if I had to pick one series I wish I'd created myself it would be this one (it even wins out over Sandman, another bigtime huge fave of mine). Go look at Naifeh's website. Be amazed. Read Courtney Crumrin.
Phew! Now it's on to more Lone Wolf, and some vampire steampunk fiction.
17 December 2004
12 December 2004
07 December 2004
- Blade of the Immortal: Blood of a Thousand (volume 1) by Hiroaki Samura. Samurai action! Sometimes cool swordplay and ancient world settings just aren't enough. This one, though, also has gorgeous art, interesting characters and involving plots. There's plenty of violence and swordplay, but they seem to exist mostly to serve the story, rather than the story being the thin excuse for action (as seems to be the case in a lot of martial arts comics I've read).
- xxxHolic volume 3 by CLAMP. I've decided that "xxxHolic" means "alcoholic," with reference to the "xxx" cartoonists used to put on a jug to show it was full of moonshine. Okay, that's probably not it at all, but I don't know what the title means (only that it's not xxx as in pornographic), and one of the principal characters does drink an awful lot (it's commented upon by the main character on several occasions). Anyway, more CLAMP enchantment. I'll be reading this series for as long as it stays good.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing volume 1 by Hajime Yodate and Yoshiyuki Tomino, art by Koichi Tokita. See this post.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing volume 2 by Hajime Yodate and Yoshiyuki Tomino, art by Koichi Tokita.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing volume 3 by Hajime Yodate and Yoshiyuki Tomino, art by Koichi Tokita.
- Rising Stars of Manga by various. When I first flipped through this volume, the art looked pretty uneven in quality, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. Reading it, though, I discovered that, for the most part, the art styles fit very well with the individual stories, and I was pleasantly surprised that the stories were quite good. Most of them fell a little short of professional quality, but not by much. Over all, this was a very enjoyable anthology. I probably won't buy it, or any of the later ones, but I will look for them at the library. The only really disappointing thing is that the Rising Stars of Manga contest is only open to US residents (though Tokyopop does take regular submissions from elsewhere).
- Wish volume 1 by CLAMP. It's getting harder and harder to say anything new about CLAMP books. Not that they're all the same--this team of artists comes up with some pretty cool ideas. I guess it's just that a CLAMP book is so recognizable as their work. And they all seem to have some combination of cute and beautiful in the art, and funny and romantic in the stories. And they mostly are able to transcend whatever you'd expect cute + beautiful + funny + romantic to equal, resulting in stories of depth about interesting characters (the only possible exception to this that I've encountered so far is CLAMP School Detectives, which was okay, but didn't really capture me the way their other books have--then again, I've only read two of the three volumes).
- Vögelein: Clockwork Faerie by Jane Irwin. Hey look, it's not manga! This is a lovely folklore meets clockwork story about a little clockwork fairy whose latest protector has died. She can't quite go off on her own, since she needs someone to wind her up every day, so she sets out to find a new protector. Along the way, she meets a real fairy. The fully-painted artwork is mostly very nice (there's the odd bit of strange anatomy and the like), though I wondered if it was originally painted in colour--the greyscale repro is okay, but sometimes looks dark and murky. The story is absolutely enchanting, and I love a tale that works in words from other languages (in this case German, and maybe a bit of Romany, but I can't remember and I'm too lazy to go look). This book was originally printed as a 5-issue mini-series, so I think this is the whole story. But even if there's to be no more Vögelein, I'll still be watching to see what else Ms Irwin does.
- Rumic Theater: One or Double by Rumiko Takahashi. Rumiko Takahashi is kind of like CLAMP, in a way, except there's only one of her. What I mean is that a bunch of ingredients that one wouldn't normally expect to amount to much (in Ms Takahashi's case, that's usually situational humour and long-drawn-out romance) result in a really good read. This book is a collection of short stories, all very similar in feel, but all very enjoyable. I think I will read anything Ms Takahashi writes or draws.
- The Ice King of Oz by Eric Shanower. This is some of the earlier (1980s, I think) work by the man who brought us Age of Bronze (a brilliant graphic novel retelling of the seige of Troy and the events leading up to it). As you probably guessed, it continues L. Frank Baum's Oz stories. This is the third Oz book that Shanower did, and the only one I've read. I was never a huge fan of Oz, proabably because I just never picked them up, but I do have fond memories of the movie, and there was one of the books I really, really liked (I can't remember which, now). I've always meant to go back and read them all in order, but haven't got to it yet (anyone have a set of Oz books they don't want anymore?). But anyway. This is a very short, but beautifully drawn and written story where Dorothy et al venture to the land of the Ice King to rescue Ozma. I especially liked Shanower's new character Flicker. If you love Oz, you really should check these books out. This one, at least, stays true to Baum's Oz (or what I remember of it, anyway).
- Ragnarök volume 1 by Myung-Jin Lee. It's kind of odd to see very Norse fragments of myth mixed with very Asian martial arts comic elements, but I think it works. This book has a lot of the huge sprawling imaginary world epic fantasy feel to it, which often doesn't work so well with me, but it also does have something that's kept me reading--at least for now. Perhaps it's the cool characters (though there's maybe a little too much of the boy's manga "fan service" (ie. big, scantily clad, gravity-defying boobs) for my taste), or maybe it's just fascination with the combination of Norse myth and kung fu. Anyway, I'll keep reading for now.
- Maison Ikkoku: Learning Curves (volume 9) by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Ragnarök volume 2 by Myung-Jin Lee.
- Lone Wolf and Cub: The Bell Warden (volume 4) by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojime.
- Ragnarök volume 3 by Myung-Jin Lee.
- Hellsing volume 1 by Kohta Hirano. I think I avoided reading this because it's super-popular and I was afraid that might mean it was mindless, violent action (those sorts of books seem to do very well). I've avoided Trigun for the same reason. Well, it does have lots of violence, but I really enjoyed this book. Cool characters, neatly plotted story, stylish art. That's why it's popular, I guess. Silly me. Now I'll have to sample Trigun, too. Volume one's already on the pile.
- Usagi Yojimbo volume 1 by Stan Sakai. Samurai bunny! Actually, this is more-or-less a serious samurai story where the characters happen to be anthropomorphic animals (except one bad guy, oddly enough). Somehow, the furry characters work. Perhaps they inject just enough humour to keep the seriousness from getting too heavy. I don't know, but I really liked this book (it's one I've been meaning to read for eons). As I write this somewhat belatedly, I've already signed out volume 2 from the library (and read it) and have requested--I think--volume 5 (they don't have very many of the volumes, alas).
- Ragnarök volume 4 by Myung-Jin Lee.
- Maison Ikkoku: Student Affairs volume 11 by Rumiko Takahashi. I hate having to skip volumes in a series. Stupid library. Fortunately with this series, missing a volume doesn't affect the overall story too much. It's still annoying, though.
- Usagi Yojimbo volume 2 by Stan Sakai.
- Kazan volume 1 by Gaku Miyao. I really wasn't expecting much from this book. I mean, a paid a whole dollar for it (plus shipping) from Dollar Manga, and some of the reproduction of the art is quite lousy (like there're jaggedy pages, where they did a poor job of scanning/resizing the art). The art itself is fairly average, with the odd quite good page. To my surprise, though, after a slightly confusing start, the story became quite engaging and many-layered. From this volume, anyway, it looks like the action serves the story, and not the other way around, which is good. And there's an intriguing mystery. It seems I'll have to go back to Dollar Manga to see if they have any more volumes.
- Ragnarök volume 5 by Myung-Jin Lee.
- Ragnarök volume 6 by Myung-Jin Lee.
And that pretty much brings me up to date on my latest reading. Funny how I wasn't sure I'd make it to 50 volumes of graphic novels/comics this year. Where I might fall behind now is fiction. Guess I'd better go read those novels I got from the libary. They'll want them back soon.
29 November 2004
I've been meaning to write this post for ages, but never quite got to it. Anyway, I noticed one day that when I bought manga, I avoided anything that was based on an anime, but happily watched anime that was based on manga. Why? I wondered. The answer is actually both simple and complex. Simply, it's for the same reason I usually avoid novelizations of movies, but watch movie based on novels. Generally, novelizations are shallow retellings of the movie, while a movie based on a book has the potential to be something different, something . . . I don't know. Not every movie based on a book is good, of course, and many of them are quite dismal, but there is always the possibility that the director has made something good from the book (even if it is not the same thing that the book was). Novelizations are almost always a waste of time (can anyone think of any exceptions to this? I can't, but there must be some.)
But, as I said, there's a more complex thing going on. Why is it that novelizations (and manga-izations) are almost never as good as the movie (or anime) they were adapted from? And why is it that movies made from books have so much potential to be good (even if they don't always succeed)? I think it has to do with the relative amount of stuff that is in each medium. A novel is full of stuff. It has careful characterizations, intricate plot, all kinds of description. A movie, being visual, has much less of those things, and has to rely on less stuff to do the job (the amount of stuff not being related to how good the thing is, mind you--I'm not saying novels are better than movies, nor the other way around. They're just different).
When a book gets made into a movie, there is simply too much stuff to use. Things always get added in to movies, of course, which may seem to contradict what I'm saying, but usually the only things added are things that are necessary for the change of medium. The process, then, of making a movie out of a book is one of distillation. The creative team works to take the book and extract its most essential elements, and those are the things that go into the movie. On order to include everything from a written work in a movie, one would have to start with something much shorter than a novel--the novella is probably about the right length. At any rate, a good creative team working with a visionary director can make something quite remarkable in the process of making a novel into a movie. The result isn't always exactly the same as the book--it can't be, really--but it may be just as good.
Turning a movie into a novel, on the other hand, is a process of transcription. The writer attempts to take the movie and put every detail into the book, resulting in a simple retelling. Because it is rarely possible for the writer to add to the movie while novelizing it, the result also tends to be shallow. It's like listening to someone describe a movie to you, play-by-play, without you being able to see or hear the original. Theoretically, if it were permissible to add to the movie, a good writer might be able to create a novelization as good as the movie. I don't know if it's ever been done.
So what about anime and manga? The processes are similar, though manga is also visual. It's possible to take a manga series and turn it into an anime series through a process of almost direct translation--InuYasha makes a decent example, though some of the events happen in a different order (the ones I'm thinking of are all ones that don't really need to happen in any particular order for the story to make sense). Theoretically, it should be possible to turn an anime into a manga by a reverse process, and maybe it's been done, but I have yet to encouter an example (to be fair, I have been avoiding manga I know is based on anime).
A lot of anime--movies, especially--are created from anime by distillation, much the same as making a movie from a novel. Akira, for example, is a single two-hour movie created from a manga of six thick volumes. A lot was left out, but the movie was still really, really good. The few manga-izations of anime that I have read, on the other hand, were lacking in depth, characterization, etc. Just like novelizations. Cowboy Bebop (blogged somewhere back there) is one example. I'd probably like the show, but I found the manga skimmed too quickly over just about everything. I wanted more substance. More recently, I read the three-volume (three rather thin volumes) Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. The Gundam franchise is really big, and I wanted to check it out. I'd watched a bit of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed on YTV, and it was okay, but not really gripping (didn't make me a regular watcher like InuYasha, Cardcaptors and Witch Hunter Robin did). I almost didn't bother to read the last volume of the manga. Probably a fan of the show would have liked it; they could use it to remind them of the show when they weren't actually watching. I don't think the book would gain Gundam any new fans, though. There is almost no characterization. There is too much left out of background events (and even events happening to the main characters) for the plot to make much sense, or for the reader to really care about anything. I could say more, but my intent isn't to rip the book apart, only to use it as an example of why I avoid manga based on anime. I don't know why this series was done this way, though. There's no reason why a longer series couldn't have been done, with the missing things added in. There must be lots of material from the anime that was skipped over. It doesn't make sense--when you have less stuff to work with in the first place, why leave out even more? Anyway, I hadn't even finished book three when I listed the series on eBay. Tomorrow I'll be mailing them off to someone who will hopefully enjoy them more than I did.
The one manga-based-on-anime that I did really enjoy (and I didn't realize the anime came first when I started reading it) was Neon Genesis Evangelion (I've only read the first four volumes as they're all the library has). The thing about this series though, as I discovered when I read the notes at the back, is that the writer/artist was deliberately fleshing out the story as he went along, adding all kinds of characterization and other detail. It shows that it is possible to make good manga adapted from anime, but it's necessary to add more stuff (as I hypothesized might be possible with novelizations).
Phew. That was a longer post than I was going to write. I hope it made sense. And I didn't even get to blathering about how Witch Hunter Robin is one of my favourite anime series now (if you're watching on Friday nights on YTV, be prepared for the story to take a somewhat different direction from here on. It gets really intense.)
- The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo. I blogged a while back about deciding to read some recent steampunk as part of my League of Extraordinary Reading (for those not in the know, that's my attempt to read everything mentioned or alluded to in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (not the movie), which is a monumental task, but one I am very much enjoying). This is one of the books my local library actually had. It reminded me a little of Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen, though they're really very different books. Perhaps it was just the sense of having fun and experimenting with fiction, and the sense of history. Anyway, this volume is actually three novellas (I'm guessing, as I didn't do a word count). They're alternate history--sort of. The steampunk elements are there, but more-or-less in the background (which is where they should be, really). It's been too long, now, since I read it for me to make any really useful comments, so probably I should just shut up. It's a good read, and very fun, and the perfect thing for those who like alternate looks at historical figures and fiction that plays around with the past. Oh, and the writing was very good, too.
- The Bookman's Promise by John Dunning. I think I made some exclamation or another when this book first came out. I adored the first two "bookman" mysteries, so I was really excited about this one. My first impression, though, was that it was not as absorbing as the others, that it was just harder to get in to. About halfway through, though, it really grabbed me and I couldn't put it down. Which isn't to say the first half was not good, just that it wasn't as gripping as the second half. But, hey, it's a novel about books, so it can't be a bad thing.
- Hemlock at Vespers by Peter Tremayne. More mystery fiction, this one is a collection of short stories about Tremayne's character Sister Fidelma, and Irish religieuse around the time when paganism in Ireland was not long gone (or entirely gone, even). I started reading these mostly because I'm interested in Celtic scholarship, and Tremayne is the pseudonym of Peter Berresford Ellis, a well-known Celtic scholar. I'd read some of his non-fiction and was curious about his mystery novels. The stories aren't especially outstanding, but neither are they a waste of time. Basically, they're competent, and sometimes quite good, historical mysteries. I think I prefer Fidelma at novel length (though I don't consider Tremayne's novels to be high art either, just good, entertaining reads. And what more do you want from a fat mystery, anyway?)
- Anno-Dracula by Kim Newman. Here's another steampunk novel, this time taking off from the question "What if Van Helsing et al had not defeated Dracula?" Like all steampunk, it plays with history and has fun doing so. I have to admit I was rather . . . er . . . frustrated with the quality of the copyediting, though. There seemed to be rather a lot of small grammatical annoyances and awkward sentences that could easily have been caught by a good editor. But, quibbles aside, this was a really good vampire novel. If you don't like vampire stories on principle, obviously you won't like it. I liked it well enough to sign out the sequel from the library (it's now waiting on my pile of library books for me to get to it). There's a third book, which I will also read, eventually.
- Portugese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith. I picked this up at Superstore, of all places. It's the first of a trilogy of slender novels, and I thought the writing was fun. It read more like a sequence of short stories than a novel, which is not a bad thing, necessarily (and maybe it was written as a series of short stories). The really odd thing, though, was that it read like a historical book (I thought it would have made fine steampunk with the right technological trappings), yet it was set in the present. Perhaps it's because the settings are old-world. I don't know. I'll probably read the others eventually. If it had had airships in, I'd probably have gone out to buy them right away (but I'm a bit mad for airships right now).
- Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth by Keith S. Thomson. Okay, this is my favourite kind of non-fiction: a well-written book that makes science and natural history interesting and alive. Plus, it's about coelacanths. Coelacanths are cool. Not long after I read this, I happened across Daily Planet (weekdays at 8 on the Discovery Channel), and they had a story about a Canadian team planning to take a BC-built sub to east Africa to attempt to tag coelacanths with those new gadgets that record info and transmit it by satellite (I think). Used to be, you had to catch the fish--and probably kill it--to get the info. The team is mostly made up of people who recently used the devices (not the sub, though) to study Pacific salmon populations. Anyway, like I said, science is fun, coelacanths are cool, and this book is a very readable history of their discovery and study.
- Airship Saga by Lord Ventry and Eugene M. Kolesnik. This book, I am not so enthusiastic about, despite my recent fascination for airships (related, no doubt, to my steampunk obsession). While there was some truly interesting information and some great stories from old guys who actually flew airships, it was necessary to wade through an awful lot of really boring stuff to find it. There were a lot of old military guys writing in their military report style, things like: "We flew x number of hours on such-and-such a day in this direction, but didn't sight any submarines." Pages of it. But I was determined this book would not defeat me, and I read the whole thing, including all the overly-long picture captions. And I'm glad I did, because there really was some good stuff in there amongst the boringness. Some great photos and diagrams, too. (Someone wanna get me an RC airship for Christmas?)
- Nabakov's Blues by Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates. More science, but butterflies this time. Did you know that Vladimir Nabakov (author of Lolita, among other things) was a lepidopterist? He wasn't considered much more than an amateur at the time, since he hadn't much training and was best known for his writing, but he did some solid science on butterflies. This book is about Nabakov as butterfly scientist, and especially about the work he did on a group of butterfiles called "blues." A great deal of it was also about more recent work on these butterflies that filled in the things Nabakov was unable to study, and showed just how good his science was. The book wasn't quite as exciting or readable as Living Fossil, but was still very good. (Shall I say it? Butterflies are cool.)
Phew. More to come soon, as I'm almost through a book of short stories. Plus there's a tonne of new graphic novels to blog.
28 November 2004
27 November 2004
25 November 2004
24 November 2004
23 November 2004
22 November 2004
21 November 2004
Writers are mean to their creations sometimes, but if we weren't, nothing important would ever happen in our fictional worlds. Anyway, I wrote 2040 words (yee-haw, more than 2000 again), and am now at 37,117. That's 12,883 left to go. At least. And only 10 days. Phew.
20 November 2004
19 November 2004
18 November 2004
17 November 2004
Then, when I posted the latest bit on my NaNoBlog, I noticed the timestamp was wrong. Somehow, it was posting an hour in the future. So I went in an back-dated it to the right time. Of course, it could just be that I and my house (or my clocks, anyway) time-travelled an hour into the future and Blogger has it right after all. (Looks like the timestamp for this blog is wrong, too. I wonder how long that's been going on?) Oh well. Nothing like a little time travel before bed.
16 November 2004
15 November 2004
Tavie is now the owner of a very dirty horse, but he still can't see, so he doesn't really care how dirty it is. Ixion, who is pale in colour and likes to keep his coat clean, is a little disgusted and somewhat dubious about what they'll find under the dirt.
14 November 2004
- Baker Street: Honour Among Punks by Guy Davis and Gary Reed. Imagine Sherlock Holmes reincarnated (sort of) as a punk woman. Weird, no? But it's also really, really good. I think this is one of the best graphic novels I've read in a long time. Probably ever. I helps that I read the whole Sherlock Holmes cannon recently; I picked up a lot more of the allusions than I might have otherwise. Even if you've never read anything Holmesian, though (or would that be Sherlockian?), the story is fabulous all on its own. The black and white artwork, slightly sketchy in places, somewhat messy (not the right word, but I can't think of a better) in others, perfectly conveys the grittiness of London and the punk scene.
- Mark of the Dog by Silvio Cadelo. Now this one has got to be one of the most strange things I've ever read. The art is gorgeous and detailed and technically near-perfect (a lot of European comic artists seem to make beautiful art). The story is enganging (though, as I said, weird). I am amazed, actually, that anyone could take such a bizarre story, and such an odd structure, and make it work. Because it does.
- Chobits volume 4 by CLAMP. What would a list of my comics reading be wihout something by CLAMP? I'm halfway through this story and still enchanted. Now if I could only find the last four books cheap . . .
- The Ruler of the Land volume 1 by Jeon Keuk-Jin and Yang Jae-Hyun. This is one of my eBay finds. I got a lot of the first three books. I'm not really sure I'll keep reading it, though, beyond those three. It has some nice art, and cool martial arts, but it seems to be one of those books where the story is little more than an excuse for showing kung fu. Not that I have anything against kung fu. Kung fu is cool, and I'd probably study it myself, if I were younger (yup, I'm 32 and already feeling old). Anyway, I'll see how I feel after the next two volumes.
- Maison Ikkoku: Domestic Dispute (volume 8) by Rumiko Takahashi. Funny how this book really progresses very little in terms of plot, and the slapstick comedy is pretty similar in each issue, yet it remains a charming story for which I eagerly await each volume's arrival in my local library.
- Bone: Eyes of the Storm (volume 3) by Jeff Smith. I've read volume 4 already (blogged somewhere back there), and the library doesn't have any more until volume 8 or something. I guess I'll have to buy the one-volume edition for myself soon (as I am one of the very few comics readers who hasn't already).
- The Ruler of the Land volume 2 by Jeon Keuk-Jin and Yang Jae-Hyun. Well, the characters are developed a bit more in this volume, which is promising. I'm a little more engaged with the story, so if it keeps imporving, I may keep reading.
- Leave it to Chance: Trick or Threat (volume 2) by James Robinson and Paul Smith. This is a cool book. I'd read volume one ages ago, before we moved to Duncan (the GVPL had it). It's one of those few "all ages, both sexes" books that are actually successful (not counting manga, though). The main character, Chance, is a girl, but she's a girl even boys could identify with. She's tough and smart and adventurous, and she actually wears clothes that someone might wear in real life (not all that common in comics, alas, at least not for female characters). This is a book a whole family could be fans of toether.
- Leave it to Chance: Monster Madness and Other Stories (volume 3) by James Robinson and Paul Smith. I haven't much to add that I didn't say above, except the title really should hae been "and Other Story," since there is only one other story besides "Monster Madness." But hey, it had zombies and hockey, so I can forgive.
- Shutterbox volume 1 by Rikki Simons and Tavisha. This one's "Amerimanga" (i.e. American comics in manga style, published by a manga publisher). The art is mostly really lovely, but sometimes slips into not-so-good. The story is an intriguing one, and the characters are interesting. I'll probably look for volume two, though it won't be right at the top of my list.
- Dark Angel: The Path to Destiny (volume 1) by Kia Asamiya. It probably doesn't say anything good about this book that I don't remember much, even though I read it recently. The art is really nice, but I think (I'm really trying hard to remember) the pacing of the story was too fast. I like that it began in medias res, but then things happened too suddenly, before I really had much sense of the main character. I need to know him before I can care about him. Anyway, I'll probably read volume 2 eventually, but there are a lot of more memorable books in line ahead of it. Though maybe, if I re-read it, I might feel differently.
- The Ruler of the Land volume 3 by Jeon Keuk-Jin and Yong Jae-Hyun. Well, this volume doesn't seem to add any more insight into the characters, so I felt I was pretty much in the same place I was when I finished volume 2. No progression. And actually, though there was a lot of fighting, not all that much seemed to happen to advance the plot. Like several others I read recently, this series is pretty far down my list of things to read next.
- Culdcept volume 1 by Shinya Kaneko. This book is based on a video game, which is not a recommendation at all, for me (especially since I haven't played the game). In fact, it's a recommnedation to not read it (I've got the get that post about novelizations and anime-izations written; a lot of it would have relevance here). Anyway, I did read it, and was pleasantly surprised. While it's not one of the best things I've ever read, and its origins as a game show quite lot, it was pretty fun. Plus it has a plucky girl protagonist, who's pretty well-developed (in terms of character, that is).
- InuYasha volume 13 by Rumiko Takahashi. Now this book is one that never disappoints. It just sucks your farther and farther into the story, until you must read the next volume. And the art's pretty (and it has, not one, but two pretty-boy white-haired characters).
- InuYasha volume 14 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Strangers in Paradise: David's Story (volume 14) by Terry Moore. You know, I'd forgotten how much I love this series. I used to buy the comics all the time, but it's one of the ones I never managed to catch up on after The Year Without Comics. Moore's art is slick and gorgeous, and his characters are fascinating. Plus, I liked getting David's backstory. He used to be quite the violent badass. Now I'm going to have to find the rest of the volumes so I can read the whole story. I wonder if the library has any (not much hope of that, but you never know).
- InuYasha volume 15 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- InuYasha volume 16 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- InuYasha volume 17 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Crescent Moon volume 3 by Haruko Iida. Yay! I finally got to read more of this cute and pretty story about werewolves and fox demons and tengus and vampires (well, one of each). It's not really a hugely deep story (though it does have some subtle and interesting things going on), but it's a lot of fun. I've mentioned before how I'm a sucker for werewolf stories (I'm an even bigger sucker for fox-demon stories).
- InuYasha volume 18 by Rumiko Takahashi. You know the writing's good when the decisions a fictional character makes about his love life leave you feeling slightly gloomy the next day. Argh. I need volume 19 now!
Phew! I really need to update these lists more often. I've been reading a lot of comics as I write my NaNo novel. It's becuase I can read them in relatively short chunks, I think, between finishing my writing for the day and falling asleep. They drive out my own words for a while so my novel doesn't keep me awake (so instead, last night, my latest issue of InuYasha kept me gloomily awake for a while--after it made me cry!) (Only a little.)
I didn't end up having to drive to Langford today; instead Sue and I did some Christmas shopping (during which I didn't buy very many presents), went to the library, and mailed things at the post office. More junk sold on eBay, heading off to its new owners. Then I worked on Fey but didn't get much done--most of the page is pencilled, but then there's the inks and the scanning and the adding of text.
Now I go eat cereal and drink tea, read volume 18 of InuYasha and sleep. G'night.
13 November 2004
Anyway, all that happened before 9:30, but then there was important television to watch, so I didn't get back to blog it until now (plus, I thought I should let the machine rest before I made it do more things). Aside from disliking Java, Flash and assorted other fancy things, this machine really doesn't like Word documents more than about 40 pages long. Especially if they are single-spaced, and I tend to compose single-spaced.
Now I have new comics to read before bed. Tomorrow, I deliver people to Langford (well, one person, anyway), possibly go see a movie, and then work on the page of Fey I should have been working on today.
12 November 2004
I like to end while I still know what happens next. It was something Ray Bradbury said: if you stop when you know what happens next, then you have a place to begin next time you sit down to write. Very smart man, Mr Bradbury. So I have to write the bits I know happened and keep going until I know what happens next again. (Did that make any sense?)
Anway, I got (or rather, Ixion got) Octavian out of the nasty dream, and Tavie has finally accepted that he's a potential shaman-oracle (or maybe just a potential shaman; I really have to figure out what the difference is). Now I have to help Tavie get his eyesight back, and assist Chiron in convincing Deianira and Nessus (not to mention the rest of the herd) that taking Octavian with them across the River Acheron is a good idea. That probably won't be easy.
So, back to the words.
11 November 2004
theOtaku.com: What Wolf Are You?
[If the picture doesn't show, I'm Kiba.]
theOtaku.com: What CLAMP Heroine Are You?
[I'm Kotori, from X/1999.]
theOtaku.com: What Rurouni Kenshin Character Are You?
I'm starting to get a better idea of where this novel is going, but I still have no sense of how long it's going to be. I can't imagine it'll take me all of November to finish the draft, at the rate I'm going. I just hope it's long enough. Anyway.
Soon I shall write more here than just "I wrote this many words today. Centaurs blah blah blah. Pink horses blah blah." To start with, I have a few recently-read books to blog about. Just not right now.
10 November 2004
09 November 2004
And now something that has nothing to do with centaurs (and nothing to do with much of anything else, really): my favorite anime episode title is "The Girl who Overcame Time, and the Boy who was Just Overcome" (the very first episode of InuYasha). I don't know why, but I love that title. Now I must go do some very brief exercises, read some words written by someone who is not me, and go to sleep. I always need to read other people's writing before bed when I'm working on fiction; otherwise, my own stories will keep me awake all night.
- Mythical Beasts -Centaur: lots of pretty pictures and a bit of info, including something very interesting about Chiron
- A Catalogue of Centaurs on Greek and Related Painted Pottery : even includes a list of names, which, added to the list I culled from Ovid's Metamorphoses, should be useful. Maybe. If I ever give any of my other kentaur characters names. (Well, "the bay filly" definitely needs a name, at least.)
- Centaurs at Encyclopedia Mythica: not a whole lot, but one very intersting sentence: In medieval romances, the centaurs were called 'Sagittary', and it led me to the next one . . .
- Chapter 16 of Bullfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fable: in which all manner of monsters are discussed
- The Attic of the Centaurs : interesting things, plus a very cool picture right at the top
- Centaurs at Monstrous.com: more basics, but more info than E.M.
- A different kind of centaur: Centaurs will thus ultimately collide with the sun or a planet or else they may be ejected into interplanetary space--I think I knew this
- Centaur animation by Windsor MacCay: wow. Very cool.
- Centaursite: lots of pictures, and links and stuff
- Centaur clipart
- The Centaur Compendium: I really want that blue graphic on a t-shirt. Or a print.
- The Centaur Excavations at Volos: centaur archaeology. I want this in my living room.
- Stinz: the best centaur comic out there, created by Donna Barr
And now back to those 600+ words.
08 November 2004
Back in the present, I have reached 11,934 words, and am not quite yet at today's goal. But that's still 265 words ahead of schedule. By the time I reach today's goal, I should be around 1000 words ahead. Not quite 4000, but much better than being behind.
07 November 2004
I learned something interesting about Octavian (aka Tavie) today. And I wrote a rather gruesome dream sequence. Poor Ixion. I feel mean for putting him through it. Then again, he's the one had the dream; I just wrote it down. (Is it any wonder Freud thought writers were seriously disturbed, when we talk about our invented characters as if they were real people?)
06 November 2004
theOtaku.com: What Inuyasha Hero Are You?
"Reclusive and often grumpy." Yup, that's me. Hee hee. I get to be InuYasha!
theOtaku.com: What Inuyasha Villain Are You?
[In case you can't see the pictures, which sometimes vanish, I'm evil, evil, evil Naraku.]
theOtaku.com: Who Is Your Inuyasha Mystery Date?
[If you can't see this pic, either, my mystery date is Kouga the wolf demon.]
Anyway, I hit 9090 words toady, which didn't get me much over my daily goal, but I'm getting sleepy, and I haven't started inking the page of Fey I was meant to finish today. I guess I'll be finishing it tomorrow. Plus, there is tv to watch. Must have my weekly fix of InuYasha and Witch Hunter Robin.
05 November 2004
As a boy I wasn't sure whether we were meant to be celebrating Guy Fawkes as someone who tried to change the system by doing something about it, or whether it was just that the English love a good loser. When I grew up I realised that it was a thanksgiving for the fact that the Parliament had not been exploded. Still, Guy Fawkes has a day named after him, which is more than King James had (although James got a bible dedicated to him, of course).
Hee hee. Go have a bonfire and use up any fireworks left over from Hallowe'en.
04 November 2004
Er. Right in the middle of today's bunch of words I had to run for the Greek mythology book. Turns out I had remembered the Ixion story correctly, but I needed to make sure. Which isn't to say I'm rewriting Greek mythology, cuz I'm not. It's much stranger. I think. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing. (And that's enough italics for one post.)
This novel is coming out much more reluctantly than last year's. It's partly, I think, because I don't really know where it's going or what it wants to be yet. I know, more or less, the end, but not much of anything in between. I don't even know why the kentaurs are heading for the River Acheron (in Greek myth, it's one of the rivers of the Underworld, the river of woe). I guess I'll find out when they get there.
So, now to go add my NaNoBlog to the sidebar.
03 November 2004
02 November 2004
01 November 2004
Also, I have green hair now. Well, not all of it, just a streak at the front. "Spring green," which is actually more like "really bright, obnoxious green." I like it.
31 October 2004
When I was a teenager and young adult, most of my friend's parents didn't like me. One girl's dad said I was "spooky" because I hardly talked. I was debilitatingly shy (I grew out of it, mostly). Rowena's parents, on the other hand, always made me feel welcome, fed me delicious food, and never made me feel like I was required to say anything. Which is maybe why I need to find these words now.
I didn't really know Rowena's dad very well (which may be why I always seem to refer to him as "Rowena's dad" instead of "Mr Hart"), but I remember him as a man who told the coolest stories. Stories about eating ants in the jungle, about finding a shoe--complete with foot--while dredging a river, about poaching pheasants at night with a flashlight and a loop of copper wire. Most of the stories were told at the dinner table, and I thought it was cool that at Rowena's house dinnertime conversation covered topics most people wouldn't touch on while eating. I think, I hope, that Rowena's dad thought better of me because I wasn't bothered by curry with morbid stories.
It's a cliché, maudlin even, to say that the best a person can do with their life is to leave the world a better place than when they entered it, but I do think it's true. And Rowena's dad did leave the world a better place--for me, at least. I don't tend to believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, I'm sure Mr Hart is keeping all the other dead people amused with his stories. And if you happen to encounter a bit of pheasant poaching or a shoe with a dead foot inside in one of my stories, don't blame me.
29 October 2004
23 October 2004
20 October 2004
- SciFiction sent back a rejection for "King of Kings, Master of Camels," with the lower limit of 2,000 words on the guidelines circled. Note to self: follow your own advice and do not merely read the guidelines, but follow them. I'll probably send it off to F&SF next. Mostly because I like the title.
- F&SF sent back a rejection for "Caught on Thorns," handsigned by Assistant Editor John Joseph Adams (aka The Slush God). This is a big step up from a photocopied generic rejection, but still a rejection. (A somewhat better sign is that I haven't had a non-hand-signed rejection from F&SF since the first few stories I sent them way back when.)
- Strange Horizons emailed a rejection for my poem "Steampunk Undersea." I really like this poem, for some reason (mostly I love my poetry dearly when I first write it, and then soon realize what awful drivel it is). The Science Fiction Poetry Association has a links page that lists plenty more markets for SF poetry, so I'll send it out a few more times, at least. Maybe to Asimov's once they're done rejecting "Hollow Bones."
So now I've got to get those pieces on their way out somewhere else, and get editing the other stuff I've written, and get it out, and so on.
Edit: Just sent "Steampunk" in as an e-sub to Sidereality.
16 October 2004
- Five Weeks in A Balloon by Jules Verne. More in my League of Extraordinary Books reading. The more I read Jules Verne, the more I like. Five Weeks started out mostly description and travelogue, with little action, but there was actually quite a bit of action by the end. I think the real attraction of Verne's books is not so much the story (there isn't much tesion or conflict, and really only a basic plot). It's not even the characters, really, though their relationships are interesting--especially the extent of the loyalty between friends. You don't see that kind of selflessness much in more recent fiction. What really seems to catch me, anyway, are the fascinating speculations. Some science ficiton has been criticized for putting ideas before people, but Verne's are so fascinating that it hardly matters, especially considering a lot of the things he wrote about weren't invented at the time he wrote them, but do exist now. He's one of the few SF writers who can really be said to have predicted the future (or some of it), rather than just speculated on what it might be like. He'd probably say that that was because he very
carefully worked out the science. Anyway, it also helps that the writing itself (or maybe the translation) is smooth and very readable.
- The Widow of Jerusalem by Alan Gordon. I'm still really enamoured with the idea of a secret society of fools and troubadors, working towards peace in the medieval world. Jesters as secret agents. Very cool. This volume fills in some of the backstory of the main character. I don't know how accurate the depiction of the Holy Land during the Crusades is, but nothing has jumped out as being wrong. It seems to me that the story is based on solid research, which is just the kind of historical tale I like. Fabrication is all very fine, but somehow a good story is that much better when you know (or are confident enough in the author to suppose) that the details are accurate. Erm, anyway, it's a good book. A rousing yarn. Intrigue and juggling, tumbling of various kinds, a little bit of theivery. Assasins, kings, queens . . .
- The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem. I thought it might be a good thing to add some contemporary steampunk to my League of Extraordinary Books reading. After all, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is contemporary steampunk (among other things, I suppose). I'd read William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's The Difference Engine some time ago, and loved it. So I dug out a list of steampunk I'd made ages ago, from a website I couldn't find again, and I signed out everything the library had. Which wasn't much, but it was a short list. And I began to read with The Cyberiad. I don't really know that I'd have classified this collection of stories about two robotic "constructors," Trurl and Klapaucius, as steampunk. Then again, I don't really know what else it could be classified as, and classification really doesn't matter in the end. The stories are odd, fable-like, science fantasy tales about improbable machines and strange kingdoms in the far reaches of space. The real fun of the stories is the author's love of language--especially scientific and mathematical language--which comes through even in translation (from Polish). It was a bit of a slow read due to the complexity of the language (though not as slow or as dense as something by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, for example), but a lot of fun. I can see why many people see Lem's work as classic, and Lem as one of the few "literary" sf writers.
- Shinto: The Kami Way by Sokyo Ono. This is one of those "been meaning to read for ages" books. I finally got it from the library when I got those samurai-related books I blogged about last time. While it didn't have as much detail as I'd have liked--I wanted more on the mythology and ritual--this was a good basic overview of Japan's indigenous religion. I did get very irritated by the frequent mentions of Shinto as a "racial religion," but it was written during the fifties (I think), when even scholars still got race and culture mixed up, or thought race and culture were somehow inextricable, or thought race was a valid scientific concept at all.
- The Jules Verne Companion edited by Peter Haining. More League of Extraordinary Books reading. This book has all kinds of strange and interesting stuff in it, from a Jules Verne story, to appreciations of Verne by various contemporaries (like H.G. Wells), to a "phone call to the dead" between Verne's alleged spirit and Erich Von Daniken. Also, it has lots of covers and other illustrations from various editions of Verne's works, and a bibliography.
- The Book of Kimono by Norio Yamanaka. I got this one to help me work out some of the details in my 1/6 scale samurai outfits for action figures. Not only was it helpful for that, but it turned out to be a fascinating book on its own. Lots of interesting history, and other stuff.
- The Great Walls of Samaris by Schuiten and Peeters. A rather slender book, but in the large format that seems to be preferred by European graphic novel publishers. This is a beautiful, beautiful book, a story about a strange city and a man who goes there to find its secret. There isn't a lot I can say without spoiling the story, but if this is typical of French comics work, I'm going to have to find some more French comics. It appears to be volume 2 of a series of fantastic stories. I'll have to see if I can find out more.
- Scary Godmother: The Mystery Date (volume 2, I think) by Jill Thompson. This is a very, very fun book. It's kind of part picture book, part graphic novel, gorgeously illustrated, with great characters. The main character is a little girl who can get into another world via her bedroom closet (with a little help from the monster under the bed). Over there, she has a Scary Godmother, a boy vampire best friend, and adventures with monsters. It's aimed at kids, I think, but it's one of those books adults will get a lot out of, too.
- Parasyte volume 8 by Hitosi Iwaaki.
- Eerie Queerie! volume 1 by Shun Shiozu. Kind of an unfortunate title, though it is the sort of pun manga often has in its Japanese titles. The original title translates as Ghost!, I think. Anyway, it's about a boy who can see ghosts, and who keeps getting possessed by ghosts wanting to settle their affaris in the world so they can pass on. Except he always seems to be possessed by female ghosts who want to work things out with men. Leading to various embarrassing situations for the poor schoolboy protagonist. It might have been another of those silly sit-com comics, except the main character discovers he might actually have real feelings for one of the boys he meets while possessed by an amourous female ghost. Er. I haven't really described it very well. I picked it up out of idle curiosity, having heard fairly favourable things, and ended up quite engrossed. I'll be looking out for more volumes.
- Love Fights volume 1 by Andi Watson. I read Watson's Skeleton Key ages ago, but haven't read anything of his since. I don't know why, as I quite liked Skeleton Key (even though I seem to have traded in my copy of the graphic novel, for what reason I know not). Love Fights is about ordinary people in a city full of superheroes. Also it's about creating comics (in this book, all the comics are licensed propaganda machines for the various superheroes, which must be not unlike working for one of the Big Publishers). And it's a love story. The art is sketchy and rendered in flat blacks and greys, mostly, which suits the mood of the story. Of course, this volume ends after a falling out between the two main characters, so I'm going to have to look for volume 2.
- Fushigi Yugi volume 1 by Yu Watase. This book falls in the "girl falls into alternate historical/mythic world" genre, but the interesting characters, beautiful art, and fascinating detail keep it from being . . . er, generic. I think this is considered one of the classics, though I haven't looked at the publication date to see when it first came out (and I'm too lazy to go look now). Anyway, it's yet another series I'll be continuing to read.
- Maison Ikkoku: Good Housekeeping (volume 4) by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Parasyte volume 9 by Hitosi Iwaaki.
- Chrono Crusade volume 1 by Daisuke Moriyama. I'd read a bit of Chrono
Crusade in Newtype USA (a massive 200-page monthly anime news magazine that is partly responsible for my lack of non-comics reading lately). It was fun, so I thought I'd see how I liked a bigger chunk of the story. Not only was it just as fun, I was a little surprised (why, I don't know, really) to find quite a lot of depth to the characters and story. I'll have to keep reading to find out what happens to these people (the demon Chrono, in particular). I'll probably have a look at the anime, too.
- Parasyte volume 10 by Hitosi Iwaaki.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume 2 by Alan Moore. Yay! More League. This time Moore works in The War of the Worlds and some of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars stuff (on my list of things to read), and some members of the League die or quit along the way, which makes me wonder what can possibly happen in volume 3. While I devoured the comics part of the book, the big text section--a travel guide to the weird world--took me a long time (partly because I kept forgetting where I'd set down the book). The text section manages to work in just about every book of the fantastic up to the late (?) Victorian period (when League is set). It's very cool, but adds a whole lot more stuff to my League of Extraordinary Books reading. Not that I mind.
- The Complete Geisha by Andi Watson. More Andi Watson! This one's about an android raised as human and her attempt to make it as an artist, despite anti-android
prejudice. She ends up working as a bodyguard for her dad's company, adding some ass-kicking to the story. Interestingly, though the science-fiction elements were necessary for the protagonist to have to fight discrimination, it was so far in the background the story could almost have happened without it. In other words, if you've avoided reading it because it's science fiction (which is a dumb, but not uncommon, reason for not reading things), then read it anyway. The sf is hardly there.
- Cowboy Bebop volume 1 by Yutake Nanten. I've been meaning to write a post about novels/movies/novelizations and manga/anime/manga-izations, partly based on my thoughts about this book. So maybe I won't commment on Cowboy Bebop, except to say that it was fun, but not very satisfying, and I think I'd probably like the anime better.
- Lenore: Wedgies (volume 2, I think) by Roman Dirge. This was a cheap-on-eBay find. Nice art and fun stories, but probably not something I'll spend a lot of money on. Maybe if I'd read right from the beginning I'd have found more depth, but as it is, I didn't see much substance here. I'm keeping the book, though, and will reserve judgement. I might very well be hooked by this series once I've read more.
- Maison Ikkoku: Bedside Manners (volume 6) by Rumiko Takahashi. Argh. The library doesn't have volume 5, so I had to skip from 4 straight to 6. I probably didn't miss a whole lot, but still . . .
- Parasyte volume 11 by Hitosi Iwaaki.
- Inu-Yasha volume 6 by Rumiko Takahashi. I got a lot of Inu-Yasha cheap on eBay, so there are a few volumes on the list this time.
- Inu-Yasha volume 7 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Inu-Yasha volume 8 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Inu-Yasha volume 9 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Inu-Yasha volume 10 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- The Heart of the Beast by Dean Motter, Judith Dupré, and Sean Phillips. This was another booked I picked up on a whim, and I'm really glad I did. The art is gorgeous watercolours, which mostly works--the inclusion of photographic elements sometimes looks cool, and sometimes just looks out of place. The story is sort of a continuation of Frakenstein, but it's so well plotted that you (or I, anyway) only realize this gradually, which adds a tremendous amount to the impact of the story. I sort of wanted a longer lead-up to the characters falling in love, as it seemed to happen a little too quickly, but I also realize that that might have thrown off the timing otherwise.
- Parasyte volume 12 by Hitosi Iwaaki. This is the final volume (for once, the library actually had the whole series). I'm thinking I might have to buy this series. I'm not really a big horror fan, but I'll happily stick with a creepy story that has good characterization. I was pleased to find that Parasyte continued to focus on the main character(s). Even when there was a lot of action and gore, it was about the characters coping with and/or responding to the action and gore, and never about the action and gore for action and gore's sake (can I fit "action and gore" into that sentence one more time?). Anyway, it's a good story that I'll read again if I can find it cheap (getting it from the library again might be too much effort--all that requesting and waiting and discovering that volume 10 was mis-catalogued as volume 8).
- Bone: The Great Cow Race (volume 2) by Jeff Smith. Although I really do like Bone, I'm not really sure why so many people rave about it. It's good, yes. I'd recommend it, yes. But I don't think it's one of the best comics ever. But anyway, this volume was much fun, with more hints of dark things to come. Epic fantasy in comics form and all. I must remember to request the next volume from the library.
- Inu-Yasha volume 11 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Inu-Yasha volume 12 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- The Five-Star Stories volume 1 by Mamoru Nagano. The gorgeous covers of this series have fascinated me for a long time. That and the fact that no one seems to carry it. I finally found it at Planet Anime, and they were having a graphic novel sale, so I picked up the first two volumes. The art is very nice. The backstory is very, very complex. I'm not sure yet if that's a good thing, a deepens the story as you figure it out thing, or if it's just a too confusing to deal with thing. I think it will be good. I have one more volume to read, after which I'll have to decide if I want to continue with it.
- CLAMP School Detectives volume 1 by CLAMP. Finally, some CLAMP. It was inevitable, in a list this long, that there'd be CLAMP. I think this is my least favourite of everything I've read of CLAMP's. It's a cute detective series, where the detectives are three elementary students at a super-elite school. I enjoyed it, but for some reason it just isn't as engaging as their other stuff. It might be partly because of the young age of the protagonists (though that wasn't a problem in Cardcaptor Sakura). I do have a bit of trouble believing a ten-year-old is a chick magnet. Or it might be that none of the mysteries really seem to matter. Everthing and everyone is just so nice. Oh well, it's only a three-volume series, and I already have volume 2.
- One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry. I found this on the shelf at the front of the library where they put new and popular books. Barry took the idea of painting 100 demons that she found in a book about Zen art, and combined it with autobiography to produce a book of engaging stories (there aren't 100 demons in it; I assume this is volume one, with more to come). The art is cartoony (the stories first appeared as comic strips at Salon.com), but suits the story perfectly. It makes me want to start drawing 100 demons of my own (which might make a good way to start out Into the Woods, though probably without the autobiography).
- Maison Ikkoku: Intensive Care (volume 7) by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Whoa Nellie! by Jaime Hernandez. I got a couple of these comics when they first came out (sort of a later spin-off of Love and Rockets), but there was one that I could never find, so I was happy to pick this book up on eBay. Women's wrestling and friendship, plus Jaime Hernandez's gorgeous black and white art. Very cool. I sat down and read it as soon as I got it out of the envelope.
- CLAMP School Detectives volume 2 by CLAMP.
Well, if my other reading has slowed down (partly due to magazines), my comics reading has obviously kept on zooming along. Lots of manga still, but some other great stuff, too.