Category Archives: Reading

A lack of excitement

On Lawyers, Guns and Money, Abigal Nussbaum blogs about the books she’s most eagerly anticipating in 2020. And it struck me reading her list I’m not really excited about any of them.

Not that some of them don’t sound good; they do. But it’s been a long while since I actually got excited that a book was coming out. I’m delighted when I buy a book I want, and usually when I read them. I love reading. But I’m almost never buzzing with anticipation the way most readers are.

It’s just that there’s so much stuff available and so much of it that I want to read. Even if all the books Nussbaum recommends are brilliant, so what? I have a long list of brilliant books I haven’t read yet. And lots of books that I enjoy reading even if they’re not brilliant.It’s probably telling that when I want to read a new SF book from the library, I don’t search the stacks, I just check out the New Books and grab whatever’s handy. And I’m very bad about staying current on series, even ones I like.

It’s also a factor that I read a fair number of acclaimed, well-regarded books that don’t work for me at all, for a variety of reasons.

I don’t think this is a problem of any sort. I still love reading, and still do a tremendous amount of it. But it still feels odd when I read an excited “look what’s coming!” post and I can’t share the enthusiasm.

#SFWApro. Covers (all to books I liked) top to bottom by Stephen Fabian, Will Staehle, James Bama and Starla Hughton. all rights remain with current holders.

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Old foes in new bottles: George Perez’s Wonder Woman (again)

Since I last reviewed the George Perez Wonder Woman reboot, I’ve read slightly over another year’s worth of issues, and a busy year for Diana it was.

Crossovers. Following the success of Crisis on Infinite Earths, crossovers became an annual event. In #8, which is told in a series of letters and diary entries, Wonder Woman participates in the dreadful Legends crossover event. A couple of issues later, she launches a plotline that ties into the much better Millennium crossover. These things can bog a series down, but Perez handles them well. Legends happens offstage and Millennium ties into Diana’s own story.

The myths. Following her defeat of Ares, Zeus, egged on by Pan (who turns out to be one of Millennium‘s villainous Manhunters) generously offers to have sex with her. Diana refuses; an indignant Zeus commands her to enter Doom’s Doorway below Paradise Island and test herself against the monsters there, to prove her worth as Amazon champion in “the Challenge of the Gods.” Plenty of action, mythological monsters, a big reveal about how closely Diana’s tied to Steve Trevor and the discovery of Hercules, imprisoned there in torment. It’s a good story that gives Hippolyta a chance to shine too. However the Amazons forgiving Hercules for assaulting, enslaving and raping them doesn’t sit as well with me as it did on first reading.

There’s also a minor retcon of John Byrne’s Genesis crossover, which established that all Earthly pantheons are indirectly the children of Jack Kirby’s New Gods. I never liked that (Kirby’s awesome, but he ain’t Homer) and Perez specifically negates it, at least for the Olympians.

Romance, or at least as close as Perez’ Diana ever came. In Legends she meets Superman and understandably she’s blown away by him. Is the feeling she has when she thinks about him what people in Patriarch’s World call love? It isn’t (there’s a team-up story in Action Comics that settles that) and Diana’s love life goes dormant until the 21st century. I think this suffers from Perez not wanting to get into the possibility of Amazon lesbian love (so Diana would understand love, just without heterosexual examples) though he did touch on it later (Greg Rucka made it explicit).

Talk and more talk. In an interview (never published, alas) I asked one comics writer and WW fan what she thought of the reboot, and she said it was too talky. I didn’t think so at the time, but I must admit it’s more notable rereading. #8 is mostly people talking about Diana, rather than Diana doing anything; in #17 Diana visits Julia and Vanessa in Greece and there’s a whole bunch more talk. Not that talk is a bad thing — James Robinson’s Starman is conversation-heavy and usually uses its well — but in these books the dialog is not really interesting enough.

•Old foes. In these thirteen issues, Perez reboots three pre-Crisis adversaries, to varying success. First came Barbara Minerva, the post-Crisis version of the Cheetah. Minerva is an archeologist who steals relics she can’t collect legitimately. When she’s not able to steal Wonder Woman’s lasso, she tries taking it by force, transforming herself into the fast, deadly Cheetah (as you can see a cat-woman rather than a woman in costume).

I’ve never thought well of this Cheetah, but rereading I realize that’s not Perez’ fault. His Barbara Minerva has a focus; multiple other writers have used her since, but without any focus. She’s just a Wonder Woman villain with no distinctive motives or goals beyond villainy. That’s damn boring. But that isn’t Perez’ fault, so I apologize for thinking so.Next up, the post-Crisis Silver Swan. Surprisingly for a guy who loves mythology, Perez skipped Roy Thomas’ version (a descendant of Helen of Troy) in favor of an abused woman whose bullying husband has not only empowered her with a sonic cry (science, this time) but brainwashed her with a jealousy of Wonder Woman (quite close to the original Cheetah’s, actually). It’s an effective story, but Thomas’ mythological origin was so much better, I wish Perez had incorporated it (I think it could be done without losing the abusive relationship aspect).

And finally we get Circe, who markedly improves on Dan Mishkin’s version. It turns out the part of Greece Wonder Woman visits is under control of Circe, who lives on an isolated island but uses her shapeshifted slaves (“beastiamorphs”) to monitor the area in animal form; work against her and you die. The resistance sees Wonder Woman’s presence as a chance to get free; Circe sees her as a prophesied threat (as did the Mishkin version, but the prophecy’s easier to understand here).

What makes Perez’ Circe interesting isn’t the curse but that she’s Wonder Woman’s polar opposite. Diana preaches gender equality and friendship between men and women. Circe, by contrast, is a misanthrope who hates both sexes (used by men, shat on by other women, or so she sees it); she’s devoted her immortality to spreading distrust, manipulation and hostility between them, including murdering Hippolyta’s sister Antiope (her marriage to Theseus was too warm and friendly). There’s a passing reference to Circe running various vice enterprises under pseudonyms to further her aims; today she’d probably be running revenge porn websites.

After such a strong beginning, unfortunately, Circe didn’t return until 1991’s War of the Gods crossover, and I don’t think she kept the malevolent MO (both the Cheetah and Silver Swan came back quicker). We’ll see.

Like his initial arc, Perez’ work doesn’t blow me away as much as it did, but it’s still damn good.

#SFWApro. Wonder Woman covers by George Perez, New Gods by Jack Kirby, all rights remain with current holder.

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Romance for Tuesday

While I’ve never been a romance comics reader, I do find some of the comics covers striking. See what you think. First, one by John Romita.

Jay Scott Pike provided this striking image.And dang, this pretty much embodies the idea of a sexy young woman from around the time I hit puberty. Dick Giordano did the art.A somewhat more old-fashioned image by Bernard Sachs shows that even in 1950s love comics, musicians got the girls.And another by Sachs. Love the yearning, heartbroken look, but as a friend of mine says, where does she keep her intestines?Another RomitaAnd another uncredited one. “The Life and Loves of Lisa St. Clair” involved a wealthy young woman searching for a man who’d love her for herself, not her money.For anyone who does have an interest in this genre, Jacqueline Nodell’s Sequential Crush blog is very good.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders. Source for covers was the invaluable Mike’s Amazing World website.

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Nursing is a world of danger, drama and death!

Because obviously a Bronze Age Marvel Comic wouldn’t lie about that would they?

And it is my imagination or does the protagonist have some serious push-up bra action going on?

#SFWAPro. Cover by J. Winslow Mortimer, a veteran comics artist dating back to the Golden Age. All rights remain with current holder.

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Controversial golden agers and other writing links

SF editorial legend John W. Campbell has become controversial in recent years. Cory Doctorow explains why. A friend of mine who showed this post to me added that it’s not just a matter of being bad personally: as the editor supreme, Campbell shaped and influenced what hundreds of writer got published. His ideas matter.

And then there’s Isaac Asimov. I’d heard about his fondness for grabbing or slapping women’s butts, but it was worse than I realized, At the link a good argument Asimov was not just “the product of his times.”

Several famous guitar riffs in classic songs are not in the sheet music used to register copyright. That could make them public domain. And lots of stuff made in 1924, such as Tarzan and the Ant Men and Rhapsody in Blue is now public domain. And if not for Congress extending copyright duration in 1978, material from 1963 would be available now, including Where the Wild Things Are and Spy Who Came In From the Cold.

Mystery novelist Sherry Harris says don’t write what you know, write what you suspect.

John Rogers of the TV show Leverage suggests “don’t write crime. Write sin.”

Male–male friendships are valued onscreen because, in addition to fleshing out male characters, they establish that men aren’t solely emotionally dependent on women, that they have lives and interests of their own. Female–female friendships are devalued for precisely the same reason, particularly in genre shows: they encourage the radical notion that a man, even a romantically suitable one, might not be the most important thing in a woman’s life. ” — Foz Meadows on representation and also how diversity in fiction favors white women.

Meadows also reminds us that while women and minority protagonists may be labeled as unrealistic, mediocre white protagonists get a pass.

The Mako Mori test: is there at least one woman in the story who has her own narrative arc, independent of supporting the man’s story?

The struggles to have a functional journalism in the 21st century.

“I don’t know about you, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable in a neighborhood full of Mr. Rogerses than I would in one patrolled continually by John Wayne wannabes with assault rifles.”

Another article on the question of whether we can separate the art from the artist.

“It was basically an early colonial version of Footloose.Atlas Obscura on America’s first banned book.


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The setting is the story: two examples

In his various books on writing, Orson Scott Card says the core of a story is usually one of four things: Character, Question, Setting or Plot. Both CRAZY RICH ASIANS and AIRPORT, which I read earlier this month, strike me as examples of books where the setting is the essence of the story.

In a setting story, we start with our entry into the world — the milieu of the super-rich of Singapore in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, a bustling international U.S. airport in Arthur Hailey’s Airport. We end when we leave. The story doesn’t focus so much on the character arcs or the plot as telling us about the setting: how things work, why things happen the way they do, what’s going on behind the scenes. Both books are info-dumpy; both books wander away from the main characters and the main plot to show us the setting. That would be flaws if the plot or the protagonists’ character arcs were the center of the story, but they aren’t.

In Crazy Rich Asians, the nominal plot is a traditional romance one: can a poor-but-honest girl (Rachel, an economics professor) convince her boyfriend’s (Nick) fabulously wealth family that she’s not a gold-digger? Can she cope when jealous exes start sharpening their knives and setting out to humiliate her? The book starts when the relationship intersects Nick’s world: some of his Singapore friends spot the couple together, snap some photos and the gossip mill soon gets word to his mother, Eleanor. She despises American born Chinese, and would much sooner Nick marry a girl from a good, Singapore family.

The heart of the book, though, is the setting. Kwan introduces us to Singapore culture: slang, food, neighborhoods, customs and schools, which I found interesting (it’s not a place I know much about). And we get the time-honored fictional fixation of OMG, Look How Rich These People Are (you can find the same thing in The Count of Monte Cristo). Characters constantly drop designer names. We get detailed descriptions of their trips to Paris, or rides on jets bigger than Air Force One, spectacular jewelry massive yachts, insanely over-the-top bachelor/bachelorette events, huge mansions, someone bringing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing at their wedding … This is the kind of thing that normally bores me to tears, but the Singapore setting helped keep it interesting for 200-300 pages. Unfortunately the novel is 500 pages and it wound up being a slog.

The book ends when Rachel and Nick make it through the family gauntlet and leave Singapore. It’s also another info-dump as we learn a shit-ton about Rachel’s paternal family in mainland China (setting up Book Two, China Rich Girlfriend).

Airport starts with Lincoln Airport struggling to cope with a massive snowfall. Planes are delayed, passengers are pissy, everyone’s under stress. We soon meet Mel, the chief of operations, who alongside his right hand, Tanya, is struggling to deal with closed runways, a plane that’s frozen in place, and angry complaints from a nearby neighborhood about planes overhead (airspace is to crowded to stay away). Mel’s personal arc — his marriage is collapsing, he and Tanya are contemplating an affair — plays a role in the book, as does his brother Kevin (an air-traffic controller contemplating suicide due to stress) and Mel’s brother-in-law Vern (having an affair with a stewardess). But these are just the spine on which Hailey hangs the meat of the book, how airports and airlines work.

We get details of staff burnout, stewardesses slipping miniature drink bottles into their purse to stock their bars at home, how airlines handle pregnant stewardesses (back in the 1960s when this came out, they’d pay for the maternity care, then arrange an adoption), how you clear a snowy runway, conflicts between homeowners and nearby airports, the financial struggle to keep the airport equal to the boom in air travel, a discussion of airports of the future (that part didn’t age well), how stowaways sneak on board. Even the characters come with info-dump backstories that tell us more than we need to know — it’s like they’re another piece of equipment at the airport. The ending is Mel and Tanya leaving for dinner at her apartment while the snow finally eases up.

This worked better for me than Crazy Rich Asians because while the details did get to be more than I wanted to know, the various subplots do keep things moving a little faster. And it is an interesting time capsule back to the days when cockpits and business meetings were full of tobacco smoke, airlines serve high-quality delicious meals to passengers, abortion is talked about in whispers and someone can walk right onto a plane to give a passenger an item they forgot when they packed (there’s also a discussion about whether it’s time to tell passengers not to bring guns on board).

#SFWApro. Covers by Joan Wong (top) and Mimi Bark (bottom), all rights remain with current holders.


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Scooby-Doo, Smash and Robert Bloch: books read

SCOOBY DOO TEAM-UP Vol. 2 by Sholly Fisch, Dario Brizuela and Scott Jeralds continues in the spirit of V1, except broadening the range: rather than sticking to DC superheroes, they time travel back to the “modern stone age” of the Flintstones, forward to the age of the Jetsons, then encounters with Superman Jonny Quest, Secret Squirrel and Harley Quinn. A lot of the fun is the in-jokes (“I’m glad you kids won’t be here for breakfast — Barney keeps trying to steal my cereal.”) so the weakest installment is with Secret Squirrel — he simply doesn’t have enough of a history to contribute much material. Second weakest is Superman, because while funny, the kids really don’t affect the plot any. Still, a pleasure to read.

SMASH: Trial by Fire by Chris A. Bolton is a graphic novel in which pre-teen Andrew accidentally acquires the powers of the world’s mightiest hero when the villainous Magus’ attempt to steal the powers of the Defender goes slightly awry. The results as Andrew struggles to live up to his new powers are funny, but the art got too confusing in the action scenes.

THE BEST OF ROBERT BLOCH is a collection of short stories ranging from Yours Truly Jack the Ripper (which Bloch himself considers somewhat overrated), to the pastiche The Man Who Collected Humor the gentle humor of All on a Golden Afternoon (easily his gentlest mockery of psychiatry) to the utopian World Timers and the computer-terrorism story The Oracle. Not all A-list — The Learning Maze is a tedious Western Union — but overall excellent. The cover comes from Bloch’s Hugo-winner That Hellbound Train, a funny but pointed story about our inability to know how good we have it.

#SFWApro. Covers by Dario Brizuela (top) and Paul Alexander, all rights remain with curren tholders.


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Golden-Age Wonder Woman: Surprised by Joye

The second half of THE GOLDEN AGE WONDER WOMAN OMNIBUS, Volume 2 (click here for my review of the first half)marks the first time a woman wrote Wonder Woman’s adventures. After 1946, that wouldn’t happen again until the 1980s Legend of Wonder Woman. William Moulton Marston had Murchison, his assistant, ghost-write a couple of stories (according to Lambiek) when he was pressed for time (that was S.O.P. for successful comics creators in the Golden Age). Then he faced the double-barreled shotgun of polio and cancer, so Murchison, along with Robert Kanigher, took up all of the workload.

Murchison’s first story involves taking a group of warmongers to Venus, to be reformed by their winged female population (introduced previously in a Justice Society story). It doesn’t go well, of course. Like most of Murchison’s work, it’s very much in the Marston mold, so I’m guessing he was still providing a lot of plotting or at least ideas. Some of Murchison’s later stories feel less Marstonian, such as an encounter with Neptunians: they’re a unisex society with no women at all, growing new generations in test tubes, some of whom are literally bred to be slaves. With the emphasis on how the strongest Neptunian rules all the rest and their hatred of women, it’s like an early shot at toxic masculinity (the cover shows Wonder Woman battling a Venusian tiger/ape hybrid). Murchison also brings back the Cheetah for a return engagement.

Robert Kanigher’s stories tend to be more conventional crimefighting tales, or to throw in the random monsters he’d use during much of the Silver Age.

Marston does contribute a few stories during this era. One introduced Countess Draska Nishki in Sensation Comics. The countess is a spymaster who shows up to inform Darnell she has top-secret information to sell him: American secrets that he can buy back for a cool million. She’s very much a clone of the now-reformed Paula von Gunther, but Paula was a formidable foe, so that works. Regrettably, Nishki only appeared once more until Kanigher’s god-awful Golden Age reboot near the end of his run.

“The Lawbreakers’ League” in Sensation Comics #46 interesting because it shows even Marston’s Diana was capable of entertaining seriously the possibility of submitting to Steve and letting him be the boss (something I associate more with the later Silver Age). The eponymous crime cartel give Steve a device that channels brain energy into his body, the same technique Amazons use (this is the first we hear of this). The device will make him stronger than Wonder Woman, which Ferva, one of the League’s leaders, assures her cohorts will make the Amazon melt and submit to him: deep down, all women want a man who can dominate them (a claim I still hear today). And then she’ll marry him and become nothing but a housewife, no threat to anyone.

Wonder Woman does indeed find it thrilling to be in the arms of a stronger, more powerful man … at first. By the end of the story, she tells Steve she could “never love a dominant man who’s stronger than I am.” Without a second’s hesitation, Steve smashes the League’s device, which is cool — Kanigher’s Silver Age Steve would never do that.

I don’t know when I’ll pick up V3, but I’ll have more of the George Perez reboot to review soon enough.

#SFWApro. All covers by H.G. Peters, all rights remain with current holders.

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Doc Savage, recycled: The Screaming Man, Measures For a Coffin, Se-Pah-Poo

We’re now in the post-WW II period. Hopefully the remaining years of Doc’s magazine won’t all be this unsatisfying. All three of the stories this time out are recycled from better ones.

THE SCREAMING MAN opens with Annie Flinders shadowing Doc around some POW camps in Manila as he talks to prisoners who haven’t been repatriated yet (it’s similar to a scene from Jiu-San). Annie is an interesting character, a dancer who got into war work because she wanted excitement but the WAACs stationed her far away from the front lines. She’s finally made it to the Philippines but the war is over; still, it’s obvious Doc’s up to something.

When she tries to cut in, the bad guys kidnap her to find out what Doc is up to (typical for this era, Doc is  ineffective helping her). Now Doc, Monk and Ham, who are hunting a vanished Johnny Littlejohn, have to find Annie too. The trail leads to an ocean liner repurposed to ship a bunch of POWs home. Both Johnny and Annie are on board.

Johnny, we learn, disappeared while investigating the mysterious Jonas Sown. Who may be an urban legend, because what are the chances a single man turned Japan, Germany and Italy toward warmongering  and fascism? But Johnny has confirmed he’s real, hiding on the ship; just as they caught Hitler in Violent Night, they have to stop Sown. The villain’s agents refer to Johnny as “the screaming man” without any explanation (he’s not screaming).

Trouble is, we know it’s important to catch Hitler; a made-up villain’s escape doesn’t have the same punch. We don’t see enough of Sown to make him believable as a John Sunlight-class monster. The man Doc finally unmasks as Sown is smart, but hardly Super-Evil Genius Worse Than Hitler smart. We don’t even know how he worked his magic; Johnny suggests it might have been some kind of mind-control tech but that’s just a hand-wave. Sown ends up as mere smoke and mirrors, though he returns in one of Will Murray‘s Doc Savage novels, The Frightened Fish

MEASURES FOR A COFFIN would have worked perfectly well as a straight detective story. It’s not strong enough for Doc, even given that Monk and Ham are the ones handling most of the action; it’s also a second-rate variation of Lo Lar’s scheme in The Feathered Octopus. It opens well as the ticket takers at a prestigious medical conference realize several of the tickets are fake — but who’d want to get in free? I assumed the goal was to kill Doc (the keynote speaker) but no, it’s to arrange an “accident” in which he’s hideously burned and has to be mummified in bandages. With Doc’s aides off overseas, nobody spots the bandaged figure announcing his retirement from adventuring is a ringer; he’s going into business, with an idea to helping people through building thriving businesses offering good jobs and useful products. Given his reputation, investors are not lacking.

When Monk and Ham return from Europe, the schemers blows up their flight to stop them interfering. They deduce this has something to do with Doc’s retirement, which looks fishy to them: would he really do that without talking it over with them and the others? In a relatively short span of time they’ve exposed the villains — competent, but not that formidable — and rescued Doc. In the aftermath, Doc reflects that his reputation is a valuable asset — a fascist coup in South America failed merely because he threatened to intervene — and that the scheme, had it gone through, would have destroyed it. That’s the best bit in the book. Second best is the book’s female lead, Miss Clayton. She’s identified as “an Intellect” whose work for a high-tech company entitles her to “the most impressive office in the place” and two secretaries. This doesn’t affect the story, but for that very reason I’m glad Lester Dent added the detail rather than make her purely decorative.

SE-PAH-POO should have worked better, as it’s recycling the pre-war SF style of the series: the villain has a deadly super-weapon, in this case a sonic-based heat ray that melts metal and burns flesh. However this element is buried in a mundane murder mystery involving the Explorers Club, a group of yes, explorers, who are currently excavating a fabulous ruin, a pre-Columbian cliff city in the Southwest. “Se-pah-poo” is supposedly the native name for a hole in the floor of their holy places that allows the god to enter.

The adventure starts off with Doc getting off a train and meeting Grunts. He’s the fourth Native American sidekick to crop up in this period and like Johnny Toms in Strange Fish, is college educated but talks in pidgin. Grunts also conforms to the superstitious and cowardly stereotype, freaking out when anything weird happens.

Doc calls for Monk and Ham, who wind up traveling west with Wanda Casey, who like Grunts inherited her membership in the club from one of the founders. Having a woman join upset the group enough they’ve changed the rules so that if someone else dies, the surviving members assume his share. This gives one of them a golden opportunity: kill off the rest of the club and he gets the sizable treasury for his own.

I like the idea of using a super-weapon for such a mundane purpose could certainly work, and it probably would have with some of the larger-than-life dash of the 1930s. Here, not so much.

#SFWApro. Covers by Emery Clarke, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Cats, menstruation and the Jersey Devil: books read

THE LION IN THE LIVING ROOM: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker argues that among all our domestic animals, cats were the least likely choice: They’re solitary rather than social, not inclined to accept human dominance, picky in diet (hypercarnivores, meaning they need all meat meals) and not well adapted to indoor life. Tucker’s conclusion, based on archeological evidence is that cats made the choice to move in with us because of the easy availability of food; we accepted because their flattened, big-eyed faces fit the kind of baby faces that makes us go Awwww (Tucker also thinks their lack of facial expression makes it easy to use them in memes). The book looks at the eco-damange cats both stray and pet do, and the brief history of cat breeding (unlike dogs, almost all modern breeds began in the 19th century — cats haven’t changed much from their ancestors). This was an interesting read, though Tucker often comes close to the classic cat-hater arguments that cats don’t like us, they just exploit us.

FLOW: The Cultural History of Menstruation by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim is a somewhat awkward mix of medical information about menstruation, cultural history (focused too heavily on the 20th century, perhaps because the ads make for such great illustrations) and arguments about why women shouldn’t be ashamed of their periods (no argument here, but I’d have preferred more information, less advocacy). There’s lots of interesting stuff even so, such as various euphemisms used around the world, including “The tomato soup is overcooked.” (the Netherlands) and Denmark’s “The communists are in the funhouse.” At times, the tone is a little too fluffy, though — seriously, using the flat-earthers who supposedly mocked Columbus as a metaphor for cluelessness is really dumb in this day and age (for anyone who doesn’t know, almost nobody thought the world was flat back then).

THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE JERSEY DEVIL: How Quakers, Hucksters and Benjamin Franklin Created a Monster by Brian Regal and Frank Esposito was an impulse purchase I wish I hadn’t indulged in: even for an academic press, $25 for slightly over 100 pages is overpriced. The information about the Jersey Devil — a supposed colonial-era legendary monster actually cooked up by various hucksters and newspapers in the early 20th century — is certainly good, but only a fraction of the book. Most of the space is devoted to New Jersey Quaker Daniel Leeds and his feuds with other Quakers, which the authors very unconvincingly strain to show became the basis of the “Leeds devil” that became the Jersey devil. They offer no evidence the Leeds clan provided anything but the name (and who knows, it could be some other Leeds) s0 while the information about the minor religious feud was interesting in itself, it also felt like padding to keep the book from being just 50 pages.

THE WOLF TREE: The Clockwork Dark 2 by John Claude Bemis is the sequel to Nine-Pound Hammer in which Ray and his sister Sally learn the monstrous machine of the first book is still operating, and spreading darkness and loss of free will over the western frontier. This starts off appallingly slowly, but picks up as it goes along.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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