Back in the 1980s I heard about Eclipse’s Tales of the Beanworld as a remarkable indie comic but I don’t recall seeing an issue (though one of the characters did turn up in Eclipse’s crossover event, Total Eclipse). Reading THE BEANWORLD OMNIBUS by Larry Marder makes me appreciate that “remarkable” understates it.
This is set in a world of living beans, most of whom look alike except for the female scientist Proffy and the beans’ champion, Mr. Spook (battling above against one of the Goofy Service Jerks). They exist in a weird alternate reality where they hunt for food across the dimensions, bask in the love of the mighty tree Gran’ma’pa and celebrate life with both music and art. Plus subplots such as Mr. Spook pondering his destiny, the birth of a batch of baby beans and one bean, Beanish, falling in love with some sort of sun goddess (Dreamish). None of which gives the flavor of this thing. I utterly loved it, and I look forward to getting the second omnibus.
THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH by Martin Edwards is a competent British mystery novel in a series about a Lake District cold-case detective who in this story reluctantly takes up an old missing-woman case a reporter has dragged back to public attention. When someone calls the reporter and insists the woman is definitely dead and not just vanished, the pressure ratchets up; then when they finally find the woman’s body, it turns out her corpse isn’t alone. This one was just “meh” for me; I’d gotten it because Edwards’ writing about the Golden Age of Mysteries sparked my interest, but it’s a conventional contemporary rather than a retro mystery.
WHEN BOOKS WENT TO WAR: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning looks at the immense efforts by librarians, publishers and the military to provide cheap books to the troops for reading during those long periods of boredom between combat. The most memorable accomplishment was the Armed Service Editions, small, portable and cheap editions of popular books GIs could carry around with them (the excellent paperback history Two-Bit Culture says that making them cheap and disposable protected against a glut of used books hitting the post-war market). Selections ranged from The Great Gatsby (Manning says it was the GIs reading it that turned it from Forgotten to Classic — I wish she’d gone into more detail), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (beloved for giving the guys a nostalgic taste of home), H.P. Lovecraft and the historical romance Forever Amber (quite hot by the standards of the time). Good, though when Manning goes into background on WW II history, I just skipped over it.
THE CAT’S HOUSE by Bob Walker details how the author made multiple special remodels for his growing family of cats, such as building walkways up near the ceiling. Not terribly useful for me in planning for Wisp, alas.
#SFWapro. Cover by Larry Marder, all rights to image remain with current holder.