Monthly Archives: July 2013

#CBR5 Maneuver #20 – The Rithmatist

The RithmatistTarget: Brandon Sanderson’s The Rithmatist

Profile: Young Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk

After Action Report:

Oh thank god.  A Sanderson book.  I was beginning to get the vapors.  Except these reviews are STILL running about two months behind my reading schedule, so it’s more like I’m starting to get the vapors again…

So Brandon Sanderson took a break from his endless list of epic fantasy projects in order to dabble in the ‘Young Adult’ fantasy market.  The result is, in many ways, a well-written subversion of the Harry Potter books.  Of course there’s more to The Rithmatist than that, but it does seem that Sanderson was aiming to distance himself as much as possible from the story of a kid chosen by fate to save the world from evil.  Unfortunately, it’s still the story (and the characters) he ended up writing.

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#CBR5 Maneuver #19 – Dial H, Vol.1

Dial H Vol 1Target: China Miéville’s Dial H, Vol.1: Into You.  Art by Mateus Santolouco and David Lapham. Collecting issues #1-6 and #0

Profile: Comics, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy

After Action Report:

Like many of China Miéville’s novels, Dial H tries to alter the way readers look at its genres.  It uses the tropes of superheroics to tell an entirely different kind of story with a lot of style and unique take on the world of DC Comics.  It is a quintessentially Miéville story, where the rules have to be learned, or re-learned at the very least.  And in spite of all that, it stays true to the comic book canon and is a huge breath of fresh air in a space that has been stagnant for a while.

I am a huge fan of Miéville’s ability to turn the boundaries of genre into creative playgrounds and Dial H doesn’t disappoint in this respect.  It is a brilliantly rendered series that taps into the ‘weird’ space that DC has been attempting to capitalize on in their ‘New 52’ reboot.  It isn’t as grand in scope or story as some of the great graphic novels, like Sandman, but it bridges the gap between a superhero story and a ‘larger’ adventure.

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#CBR5 Maneuver #18 – Princeps

PrincepsTarget: L. E. Modesitt Jr.’s Princeps (Imager Portfolio #5)

Profile: Fantasy, Political Fiction

After Action Report:

After reading both Scholar and Princeps, I honestly think I was wrong about Modesitt’s motivations behind abandoning the ‘present-day’ progression of his Imager Portfolio series.  Pinceps is the second book in the Portfolio to follow Quaeryt, an imager that lived hundreds of years before the events of Imager.  In my review of Quaeryt’s first novel, Scholar, I accused Modesitt of fighting off stagnation by radically shifting the setting and the protagonist.  But now I’m beginning to think that he wrote a huge amount of backstory for the island nation of Solidar and was getting frustrated at being unable to use it in Rhennthyl’s storylines.

Princeps continues to flesh out the formation of Solidar, as the restless city-states of the continent are gearing up for full-fledged war.  But the primary focus of these books is increasingly an ongoing treatise on the value of intellectualism, the dangers of populism and an indictment of racial intolerance.

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#CBR5 Maneuver #17 – Secrets of the Fire Sea

Secrets of the Fire SeaTarget: Stephen Hunt’s Secrets of the Fire Sea (Jackelian #4)

Profile: Speculative Fiction, Steampunk, Fantasy, Mystery

After Action Report:

The fourth book in Stephen Hunt’s Jackelian series is a marked improvement on the third, but doesn’t quite recapture the energy or creativity of the first.  However, the actual narrative line of Secrets of the Fire Sea is surprisingly clean and easy to follow, a vast improvement over Hunt’s pervious stories.

If you haven’t been following my various Cannonball blogs, Secrets of the Fire Sea takes place in Hunt’s steampunk/fantasy/sci-fi setting that started with The Court of the Air. And it is honestly one of the best steampunk settings out there, and continues to be wonderfully creative sometimes even surprising.  I would go so far as to say that the setting is the reason these books are worth reading, as the stories tend to be retreads of obvious tropes and are only interesting because of the set pieces that make up the world.

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The Hypocrisy of Tolerance: Does Boycotting Ender’s Game Really Fight Orson Scott Card’s Bigotry?

endersgameGeek Outsider is publishing another opinion piece of mine.  This time it’s on the recent movement to boycott the Ender’s Game movie because of Orson Scott Card’s vocal stance on homosexuality and gay marriage.  Here’s an excerpt…

The geekier news sites have been abuzz this week with moral outrage and boycotts.  But unusually, it isn’t conservative America doing the boycotting.  Geeks are banding together to boycott the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s science fiction classic, Ender’s Game.  See, Card is vocally opposed to gay marriage.  He’s a card-carrying (har har) member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is a frequent contributor to a variety of conservative publications, including the Rhinoceros Times, and Sunstone.  In articles for these publications, he has advocated bans on gay marriage and called for the destruction of governments that threaten his definition of marriage or the role it plays in society.  He is on the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the key groups opposing gay rights on a national level and a major player in the events of Proposition 8.

In light of all this, it makes sense that organizations, like Geeks Out, would call for boycotts of the Ender’s Game movie.  But I can’t help but wonder at the ethics of attempting to silence (or punish) an individual for his personal beliefs.  This isn’t the first time Card has come under fire for his stance on homosexuality.  Earlier this year he was essentially fired by DC Comics, who had tapped him to guest write a few issues of the Adventures of Superman book, when his assigned artist, Chris Sprouse, left the project.  Card’s issues were put on ‘indefinite hold’ and were ultimately replaced with new stories written by Jeff Parker.

Now, I can’t really object to DC’s final decision on this matter.  If Card, or even just the idea of Card, was driving away artists, there really wasn’t any other choice but to fire him.  But the underlying motivations of activist groups and comic book fans in this case are a little suspect.

The rest of the article is up at Geek Outsider.  If anyone has strong feelings on this subject, I’d love to chat.  Leave me a note in the comments.

#CBR5 Maneuver #16 – Saga Vol.1

Saga Vol 1Target: Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga.  Art by Fiona Staples. Collecting issues 1-6

Profile: Comics, Science Fiction, Space Opera

After Action Report:

Saga is probably the most praised comic currently running.  Brain K. Vaughan has a bit of a reputation for excellent comics with his Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina stories making lots of people’s must-read lists.  So it shouldn’t be surprising that readers and industry wonks alike were practically frothing over Vaughan’s new series.  I got to this party a little late, mostly because I don’t see the point of collecting individual issues and prefer to wait for the mass-market paperback collections.  So I write this review with the enormous pressure of thousands of positive reviews sitting on my back.  Not that I feel the need to contradict them.  Saga is an excellent book with only one serious fault.  And that fault is one that could easily be corrected with time/more issues.

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