For a few books more: Reviews (#SFWApro)

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Wrapping up the books I hadn’t blogged about last weekend

UNRULY PLACES: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett (cover design by Alex Camlin, rights reside with current holder) is an interesting look at various oddities of geography that elude our ability to map things neatly: Sandy Island, found on Google Maps but not in reality; a 27 mile-stretch of land that falls between the borders of two “neighboring” countries; breakway ethnic enclaves; Sealand, an early attempt to set up an offshore independent nation; FARC controlled Columbia; underground cities; and communities living in cemeteries. Bonnett’s theme (a lot of musing about how Place means a lot to us) gets heavy-handed, and some of his entries don’t fit the book at all (a wood in his community that serves as a “public sex area”). That said, lots of interesting material here.

WHAT IS MY DOG THINKING? The Essential Guide to Understanding Pet Behavior by Gwen Bailey doesn’t teach me anything the other dog books I’ve browsed didn’t, but the use of lots of photographs of Uncomfortable Dogs, Frightened Dogs and Blissfully Happy Dogs does make it easier to grasp than words alone. A useful one to keep around.

WEIRD HEROES Vol. 8 was the final volume in the series (I’ll get to the remaining novels they published eventually) and a pretty good one, with another installment of Ben Bova’s Orion (who appeared in the previous collection) and the introduction of J. Michael Reaves’ Kamus of Kadizar (another character who survived the series’ demise, appearing in the later standalone novel Darkworld Detective), a hardboiled PI on an alien world where magic works (so it’s a detective/sf/fantasy story). There’s also a reprint of Michael Moorcock’s New Wave story “Seward” (I can’t see how that fits the series’ neo-pulp theme—perhaps they thought Moorcock’s name would buoy sales?) and anotjer forgettable Philip José Farmer story, “Savage Shadow.”

Perry Mason gets involved in THE CASE OF THE AMOROUS AUNT (courtesy of Erle Stanley Gardner) when a young woman becomes convinced her aunt is being scammed by a fortune hunter. Only it turns out said fortune hunter has been drugged and ice-picked in a cheap motel, leaving auntie as the chief suspect. One I’d read before, though I only remember a couple of the details, not the main plot—the usual fun, though I’m mildly surprised the aunt didn’t get a better man at the end of the tale as her niece does (ditching a sponging boyfriend for the attorney assisting Perry here).

And now, comic books—NEXUS ARCHIVES Vol. 6 by Mike Baron and Steve Rude turns out to be a run of the 1980s series I already read (and have). Still it’s good to reread the stories of the reluctant cosmic assassin, compelled by the mysterious Merk to take out various criminals and dealing with the responsibilities and new challenges that come with the job. I borrowed this from a friend; as soon as I figure out exactly what I have, I’ll probably start buying some archives myself.

TIMELY COMICS, INC. was a 70th anniversary collection from Marvel in which various writers and artists tackle the characters from Marvel’s Golden Age comics (when it was known as Timely) including the big names (Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, Captain America) and the obscure (the original Vision, Blonde Phantom, the Patriot). Unsurprisingly a mixed bag, some of them very good (the origin of the Phantom Reporter does wonders with an extremely minor character) and a few dreadful (given the details, Blonde Phantom would have to be in her sixties when her story takes place and the story doesn’t acknowledge that).

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