Roanhorse, prophets, Sexton Blake and Elric: books read

At the end of Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun, we had the ruling priesthood assassinated, the sun eclipsed and the Crow God dominant. In FEVERED STAR: Between Earth and Sky Book Two, the various cast members deal with the fallout by seeking windows of opportunity, figuring out who can be trusted, hunting for Lost Loves or pondering the loss of their humanity. This suffers from being the middle book of a trilogy but “suffers” isn’t quite the right word as it’s an outstanding book; like the first volume, Roanhorse does a great job of emphasizing personal stakes without forgetting it’s the middle of an apocalypse.

THE PROPHETIC IMAGINATION by Walter Brueggemann argues that Biblical prophets such as Moses simultaneously demonstrate the hollowness of the status quo (Jehovah proving Egypt had no choice but to let his people go, for instance) and imagine an inconceivable alternative where things are better; Solomon by contrast, is the anti-prophet, embracing old school monarchy and self-indulgence (Brueggemann makes the familiar argument that luxury leads to complacency). Thought-provoking but I’m not sure what my thoughts are, or if I follow all of it (like Brueggemann’s distinction between prophetic vision and social activism).

Funny, I thought I’d reviewed the Marc Hodder-edited SEXTON BLAKE VERSUS THE MASTER CROOKS before, but apparently not. Although Blake wassuccessful Sherlock Holmes clone, this book shows that like most such clones, he lacked personality — it’s the master crooks who make him memorable. Here he battles diabolical master schemer Zenith the Albino; Leon Kestrel, the criminal actor known as the Master Mummer; and Waldo, the Wonder Man, a Doc Savage-like example of physical perfection. I don’t feel the urge to grab up more Blake but this was enjoyable.

MOCKINGBIRD by Walter Tevis is a striking post-apocalypse novel in which the drugged-out, listless remnants of humanity spend their days getting stoned and watching porn while robots care for their every need and protect them from dangerous behavior (making friends violates the right of privacy!). Our protagonists are the rarest of creatures in this world, functionally literate (though baffled by the meaning of most words) and capable of feeling. Are they enough to turn things around? A great book that proves that even old cliches can work with the right handling.

BLACK HOLLYWOOD: Reimagining Classic Movie Moments by photographer Carell Augustus has various black actors replicating iconic moments from The Godfather, Gone With the Wind, Mission Impossible and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly among others (For Your Eyes Only below)

This is a mixed bag, some great (the Singin’ in the Rain shot absolutely nails it), some not — how did they do Veronica Lake and not her famous peek-a-boo hair style? That said, enjoyable to flip through though I’m curious about how they picked — why these films rather than Star Wars, The Big Sleep or Superman?

Given my wariness when “famous writer revisits his early work” I wasn’t sure Michael Moorcock’s latest Elric book, CITADEL OF FORGOTTEN MYTHS, would work out — and overall, it didn’t. Set between meeting his human wife Zarozinia and the final apocalypse in Stormbringer, this has Elric and perpetual sidekick Moonglum visiting the far side of the world in hopes of finding drugs that will let Elric to function without his accursed, soul-drinking rune-sword Stormbringer. In the first short story in the book they encounter a lost Melnibonean tribe and battle slavers; in the second they visit a lost city and discover a potential cure for Elric is actually a blood drinking killer plant (not a new idea but Moorcock makes it impressive).

The bulk of the book, however, is a novel in which Elric deals with another Melnibonean colony, a magic-backed warlord and the disorder in the godly realm that will lead into Stormbringer. All the elements are there but the story is less sword-and-sorcery than Moorcock in the talky, arty mode of Fortress of the Pearl and it’s a slog to get through. A disappointment, but the first two shorts are worth reading.

#SFWApro. Stormbringer cover by Michael Whelan, all rights to images remain with current holders.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reading

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.