Gryphons, stock speculation and a hellcat! This week’s reading.

GRYPHON IN GLORY is Andre Norton’s follow-up to The Crystal Gryphon wherein Kerovan, having won Joisan’s heart in the first book, decides he doesn’t want it. Or more truthfully he does want it, but he doesn’t want Joisan shackled to a freak such as himself (a standard disability cliche). So when Lord Imgry (who first appeared in the chronologically later Year of the Unicorn) needs someone to enter the Waste that borders the Dales and seek mystical help against the invaders, Kerovan volunteers. Too bad for his plans Joisan is determined to get him back and rides after him.

This is very much a crossover book. We have the Were-Riders from Year of the Unicorn, plus Elys and Jervon from Spell of the Witch World who gives both Kerovan and Joisan an example of mismatched outcasts who’ve become a couple. The Dales setting is looking more and more like Estcarp: the Waste, like Estcore, is pocketed with powers of light and dark who’ve retreated from the world but can easily be stirred up again. The invaders from Alizon are definitely backed by the Kolder, who are seeking their own allies or tools in the Waste. On top of which the subterranean Thals (featured prominently in Sorcerer of the Witch World) show up this side of the ocean. It feels very much like having wrapped up Estcore’s struggles in Sorceress of the Witch World, Norton’s giving herself a do-over — but it works. Better than the previous installment, in fact, as the magic, while pushing Kerovan and Joisan around, leaves them room to decide their own fate at the climax.

DEVIL TAKE THE HINDMOST: A History of Financial Speculation by Edward Chancellor does a great job with the topic, starting with what, exactly makes speculation different from investment, or from gambling (Chancellor’s view is that it’s much closer to the latter). Chancellor looks at the famous bubbles of history including Tulipmania in Holland, England’s South Sea Bubble, France’s Mississippi Bubble, railroad bubbles in the U.S. and England in the 19th century (one of the books points is that shiny new tech always attracts speculators) and Japan’s 1980s speculation bubble (which I only knew about vaguely, from reading about the film Bubble Fiction for Now and Then We Time Travel). Chancellor looks at the shifting role and perceptions of speculation in between the big event; following the Crash of ’29 and the Depression, the U.S. tightly regulated and generally disapproved of it, but that faded with the “greed is good!” attitudes of the Reagan presidency. While some economists argue for a perfectly rational economy in which speculation must therefore be equally rational, Chancellor makes a good case that this view ignores reality in multiple ways. While the book came out in 1998, both the dot.com bubble and the real estate bubble of 12 years ago fit his arguments perfectly. Very good.

PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT: Hooked on a Feeling by Kate Leth and Brittney Williams is the first TPB of a now-ended series. Patsy Walker was Marvel’s A-lister in the 1950s, a female Archie-type teen whose adventures sold well until the mid-1960s; Steve Englehart then turned her into the superhero Hellcat in his run on Marvel’s Avengers. In this incarnation, she’s somewhat burned out on superheroics and hoping to put together a temp agency providing gigs for metahumans who similarly don’t want to participate in clashes of titans. Unfortunately the Asgardian sorceress Casiolena is trying to recruit the same sort of folks for her evil plans — and meanwhile Patsy’s former bestie, Hedy, is exploiting the rights to the Patsy Walker comic books (which exist within the Marvel Universe too). The results got overly cute at times, but by the end it won me over.

#SFWApro. Top cover by Lawrence Schwinger, bottom by Brittney Williams.

1 Comment

Filed under Comics, Reading

One response to “Gryphons, stock speculation and a hellcat! This week’s reading.

  1. Pingback: The Witch World and Beanworld, plus the world’s most famous Kurd: books read | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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