EF Benson’s “The Room in the Tower” is a classic creepy short story, so I figured THE NIGHT TERRORS: The Ghost Stories of EF Benson would be a good read. Alas, despite some true chillers, Benson’s way too wordy and detailed in his descriptions which drowns out the creepiness in most of the yarns. I can see why he’s better known for the social comedy of Mapp and Lucia as that element is where he’s at his best here, from the emotionally manipulative husband of “The Dance” to the culture-snob ghost of “Thursday Evenings” to the social embarrassment caused when a young boy turns out to be one of “The Psychical Mallards.” A mixed bag, overall.
1000 RECORD COVERS is a collection that spans the 1950s with its relatively simple Here’s My Face images through the increasingly arty and wild 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. While not well organized, it does clump them together with themes (semi-naked women, mean machines, views from airplanes) and does show how many musicians were out there I never heard of (my favorites being the Manchesters and the Liverpools, two groups obviously hoping people would pick them up thinking they were the Beatles. Light, but entertaining on the eyes.
Superman and Lois’s son Jon is the best thing the New 52 has done with Superman and Jon’s scenes in SUPERMAN: Imperious Lex (by multiple artists and writers) are a real treat, particularly the two part story in which he and his dad try to stop another world from going Krypton. However the main arc involves the power struggles on Apokolips after the fall of Darkseid, showing once again that nobody in the New 52 gets Kirby’s New Gods — this might as well have been Mongo or Tattooine or any other colorful planet in fiction for all the difference it makes.
WORLD OF WAKANDA by Roxane Gay and Alitha E. Martinez is the backstory of Ayo and Aneka, the Dora Miljae turned Wakandan vigilantes who first appeared in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run on Black Panther. While the core love story is good, it’s hamstrung by having to retcon it around crossover events such as AvX and to lead in to Coates’ own work; like Jodi Picoult’s Wonder Woman it would have worked better if it stood on its own, say focusing on their vigilante activities dealing with local issues T’Challa’s apparently ignoring. And I wouldn’t have minded seeing more about how this relationship plays in the Dora Miljae — is hooking up with each other as common as I assume, given they’re cut off from relationships with men? Does the commander/subordinate part of their relationship raise the same issues in Wakanda it does here? As is, a bit disappointing.
MASK OF THE RED PANDA by Gregg Taylor and Dean Kotz adapts what I gather is a radio neo-pulp series about the title protagonist and his female chauffeur/sidekick Flying Squirrel as the tackle various supernatural threats. This was fun, but the ease with which they take out magical threats undercuts the tension and I’d have liked Kit to be a little more competent.
LIBRARIES: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles looks at the history of libraries both public and private (pointing out that in many eras a library was an accessory demonstrating Great Man status) and the perennial problems such as how to find the books you want (the prototype of the current indexing systems triggering angry protests that it put too much work on readers), whether a library should collect Everything or The Best Stuff and the risk that concentrating books in one place as Alexandria did makes losses inevitable. Interesting but a bit too eclectic for a first look at this topic.
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