19 December 2004

Books! (Recent Reading)

Er . . . I know I said I'd returned to my usual breakneck pace of reading, but actually, I don't seem to have. Quite. Anyway, here are the things I've read recently-ish.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.


  1. 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).

Sequential Art:

  1. Lone Wolf and Cub: Black Wind (volume 5) by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.
  2. Ragnarök volume 7 by Myung-Jin Lee.
  3. Ragnarök volume 8 by Myung-Jin Lee.
  4. Ragnarök volume 9 by Myung-Jin Lee.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Lone Wolf and Cub: Lanterns for the Dead (volume 6) by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

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