I keep meaning to post this on reading Wednesday, and forgetting. Have a reading Tuesday! A Hero at the End of the World (Erin Claiborne) (2014):
Scott Pilgrim redux, without Scott Pilgrim's brilliant deployment of contemporary pop culture, or the lurking plot twist that Scott recognizes and acknowledges his flaws
. A story as trope-heavy as The Magicians
, without Grossman's wonderful prose, or critical engagement with the problematic aspects of fantasy tropes. By chapter four (of 33) I didn't care about any of the characters, and committed the minor sin of skipping to the final chapter. A later plot element inspired false hope it would get better. It doesn't.
The novel is blurbed as "best friend of Chosen One fulfills Chosen One's destiny, timestamp: 5 years later". Sounds like a great opportunity to engage critically with the Chosen One trope, doesn't it? ( This is not that novel. )A Hero at the End of the World
is the first novel published by Big Bang Press (see Kickstarter page
. I anted up at the "three ebooks plus commentary" level, and will report back as the second and third novels show up in my inbox. Hero
was the novel I had most expected to enjoy, so it's disappointing I bounced off it this badly. But! Now I can re-scale my expectations appropriately. Saga: Volume 3 (Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples):
THIS SERIES YOU GUYS THIS SERIES. This
is how you do tropes. It's space opera (I love space opera). There is a star-crossed romance
, which can be done poorly or well, and in this case it's done to my taste. Though Marko and Alanna are very "us against the world", usually my least favorite romantic plot, this is constantly undercut by their own flaws and struggles with their relationship, and their awareness of the possible consequences for their tiny daughter. The young parents may be In Love, but that doesn't resolve their insecurities, interior or exterior. Someone still
has to change the diapers.( Spoilers for Volume 3. )
I love this series. I love the sprawling canvas. I love the multiple perspectives the reader follows, the compromises people make (and try to break), the gorgeous full color art, the callously high body count, the Lying Cat (if you do not love Lying Cat, there is no hope
for you), Marko and Alanna figuring out how to be responsible parents, the different characters engaged in some form of parenting, or caretaking, or bringing life into an uncertain world (the Robot family! Could this series signpost Major Issues with more neon lights? Cannot wait to see how that plays out), the relationships
. I love Klara figuring out this mother-in-law thing. I love the random ghosts and magic and the spaceships and the transformative power of trashy romance novels. I love the art, and the shameless reveling in this broad spacious canvas by writers, inkers, artists who know exactly
what they're doing with their tools. The Empress of Mars (Kage Baker) (2010):
Mary Griffith, former scientist, current bar-owner-slash-brewer-slash-mother, survives and thrives on Mars.
Not my favorite Company novel (Sky Coyote
, hands down; expand to shorter works and I will nominate "Son Observe the Time"), but delivered palate-cleansing competent storytelling and mild slapstick. There is, how to say this? When Baker makes her characters immature and short-sighted, one gets the impression she does not find this charming. It's just part of the human condition. She's also got tonal range in her storytelling: The Empress of Mars
is pretty frothy, compared to, say, Mendoza in Hollywood
. Mary's two oldest daughters get married, Mary secures the small entrepreneurial fortune any self-respecting pioneer woman would desire, plucky quirky independence is celebrated and mindless conformity derided... this isn't deep, but it's competent.