Friday, June 4th, 2004
11:59 am - Reading  
Way behind on updating my reading list. I finished First Contract on the flight to Oakland. It was okay, a comedy about what happens to the tech industry when the aliens show up with better tech. Not a great book, but I enjoyed it because Costikyan is the closest writer I can think of to my own interests and writing style. Weird feeling that, reading something by someone else that feels so familiar.

The other book I read on the plane was Red Iron Nails, continuing my reread of the Garrett canon. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been reading downloaded comic book series. I read the entire seventies run of Warlock, a book I remembered with a great deal of fondness. Upon rereading so many years later, a lot of the cheesiness comes out. There are the initial, Kirby-drawn appearances in FF and Thor, when Warlock was still known as "Him," and was this mega-powerful enigma that would pop out of his cocoon for a little while, then retreat back, pouting about being misunderstood. Then there's his first run in his own book, where he's given the name Adam Warlock, along with his soul gem, by the High Evolutionary, who then sends Warlock (whom he likens unto a son) to save HE's creation, Counter Earth, from his other creation, the Manbeast. The whole run is a not so thinly veiled retelling of the Gospel, with Warlock as Jesus. He's even crucified in the last issue. They tie up the loose ends in a couple of issues of the Hulk and the Avengers, and Warlock rises from the dead (again), and goes off to seek his destiny in the stars (again). Gil Kane's artwork is very good, but the stories are pretty crappy, very much over-the-top attempts to be "relevant."

Then things get interesting. Jim Starlin, fresh off his turn on Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell, not Shazam), comes in and resurrects the character (again), and Marvel starts the book up again. This time Adam is still out among the stars, where he comes across a religious movement that has been conquering the galaxy. The movement is led by his future self, the Magus, and he is forced to team up with Pip the troll and Thanos to defeat the threat. In the end, he dies (again) in a very neat bit of time line continuity from the Avengers issue mentioned above, and his cocoon is last seen floating off into space. There is some good stuff in the Starlin issues. The side characters on both sides are interesting, and Starlin's artwork is fabulous. Alas, it was all too short lived, because I seem to be the only person who actually bought the book when it came out.

Currently, I'm making my way through the back issues of Gotham Central, which I'm really liking a lot. I've also started Helprin's Winter's Tale, which is a very strange book. It took me awhile to figure out that it's a fantasy, despite the fact that the first chapter is about a semi-intelligent horse, and that the protagonist thinks the Pine Barrens are an easy commute on horseback from Manhattan. Although to be fair, the protagonist has shown very few signs of any intelligence at all so far. I've been making notes as I read, which is something I rarely do. I thought at first it was a semi-historical novel, so I managed to spoil myself to at least one plot point by googling one character who I thought might be historical. Turns out he's not. At all. The book seems to be set in the early 1900s. The Brooklyn Bridge (1883) exists, the George Washington (1931) does not. OTOH, the Erie Lackawanna railroad is mentioned, which did not exist in that form until 1960. This drives me a little nuts.

The time line bounces around a lot, and I'm having occasional trouble distinguishing flashbacks from realtime, and have gotten very confused a couple of times. I imagine it will sort itself out once I'm further in. The problem with that is that it's been slow going because of Helprin's fondness for description. The story is interesting so far. Let's get to it, okay? Also, if you mention that there are chunks of ice floating in the river, it's hard to swallow your description of it being a warm night two pages later. Continuity is all.
 
 
Current Mood: hungry
 
 
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msbellemsbelle on June 4th, 2004 - 09:07 am
all I will say on Winter's Tale is that it could have used a good editor and losing about 300 pages. We read it for bookclub.
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Veejaneveejane on June 4th, 2004 - 09:08 am
I think it best to take Helprin's New York as a fantasy or alternate history, yes. The way that the whole Lake of the Coheeries storyline sort of futzes with reality and geography and timelines is just to be taken as is, and not scrutinized too hard.

Also, a lot of the details of, you know immigration patterns, mechanical and social history, and later on, actual real current events that aren't real -- it's one of those works where the emotional lives of the characters are more important than fact-checking. So you have to get past that problem to really enjoy it.
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Hugh Likes Carrots: XMentheodosia on June 4th, 2004 - 11:54 am
I remember the latter Starlin Warlock, so no, it wasn't just you!
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