Books (#SFWApro)

YEAR’S BEST FANTASY STORIES Six was the last volume in Lin Carter’s anthology series and ironically may be the best one. If nothing else, Tanith Lee’s classic take on Snow White, “Red as Blood” makes it excellent and this also has stories by Roger Zelazny, Brian Lumley (one of his non-Lovecraftian ones) and Orson Scott Card (a reminder that despite his politics he can write very well—although also how heavily he relies on tormented children as a trope), plus early stories by Jayge Carr and Paul Cook (while the ending of Cook’s “Character Assassin” makes little sense, the idea of someone murdering fiction’s most despicable characters is a good one). Nice to wrap this one up on a win.

Despite that one hideously sexist story, Andrew J. Offutt’s SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS is otherwise an exemplary collection of sword-and-sorcery stories, including the debuts of Manly Wade Wellman’s Atlantean exile Kardios, Ramsey Campbell’s sword-wielding mercenary Ryre and the Richard Tierney’s Simon of Ghitta. On the downside, “Nekht Semerkht” is an unpublished Robert E. Howard story (finished by Offutt) that should have stayed that way—though learning from the introduction that this was written right before his death makes the tedious musings about the meaninglessness of life and man’s refusal to let go of it understandable. I look forward to reading more of these.

I figured I should check out the novella THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME by Yasutaka Tsutsui because of how often it’s been adapted, and I must say I’m puzzled why it struck the chord it did (though given it’s a Japanese Y/A, I suppose that’s not surprising). Unlike the anime adaptation (which definitely worked better for me), this has Kazuko only making one use of her powers before she learns what’s behind it all, and her angst at being Different From Everyone is over-the-top by Western standards. However this does explain that the world’s future isn’t as dystopian as I thought watching the anime (it’s depopulated not because of disasters or war but planetary emigratrion).

BATMAN: Hush, Vol. 2 by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee worked better for me than Loeb’s Long Halloween because it’s not so ambitious, just a straight story of the mystery mastermind Hush manipulating Batman’s enemies to destroy him, just as Bruce is launching a relationship with Selina Kyle. I particularly liked the scenes where Dick’s telling Bruce how to handle Selina, mostly because I can’t imagine them talking that comfortably today (for years now Bruce has been played as almost Victorian in his cold, distant father-ness).

SHIELD: Architects of Forever by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver is the first of Hickman’s works I’ve really liked as he takes us into the world of Shield, a centuries-old secret order that includes Galileo, Newton and DaVinci, all dedicated to protecting the world from cosmic threats. That said, I think the MU needs another big secret conspiracy like a hole in the head, and a lot of his recycling (Galactus first showing up on Earth during the Renaissance) really doesn’t work for me.

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Filed under Comics, Now and Then We Time Travel, Reading

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