Category Archives: Comics

Bad girls, a future Earth, a nuclear hero and witches: books read

BAD GIRLS: Young Women, Sex and Rebellion Before the Sixties by Amanda H. Littauer is the flip side to Trials of Nina McCall, looking at the kind of sexually active women the American Plan longed to lock up somewhere. Littauer’s selection includes “victory girls” who partied with soldiers during WW II, lesbians, prostitutes, kids going steady (which teens rationalized made it OK to have sex) and women discussed in and responding to the Kinsey Report on female sexual activity. Informative, but Littauer’s style is stiff even for a university press book, and I can’t help feeling there’s something missing, though I’m not sure what.

EARTH’S LAST CITADEL by CL Moore and Henry Kuttner starts in 1943 as protagonist Alan helps a brilliant, crotchety scientist escape from the Nazis. As the Nazi agents (a former mob triggerman and an Karen, an adrenaline junkie who does spy work for the thrills) catch up with them, all four are trapped by an ET, then thaw out in the very, very distant future, after the ET’s race has xenoformed Earth to their liking, then died out. Exploring the strange title city, the quartet (fully aware that their political disagreements mean very little now) discover an Eloi like race, a malevolent telepath — oh, and one of the aliens may not have died after all …

This is exotic, imaginative and colorful, the kind of pulp stuff I love. However, while I enjoyed it, it’s kind of a mess; the plot changes direction so much I wonder if they were making it up as they went along and kept changing their minds (it was serialized, like a lot of SF stories at the time). Karen is an interesting character but she virtually vanishes, with more attention going to Alan’s Eloi love interest; nor do they do anything with the idea the scientist, while brilliant, would sooner party than work. by

Cary Bates redefined Charlton Comics’ Captain Atom (the prototype for Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen) in his 1980s series, turning him into a government agent posing as a superhero to infiltrate the metahuman community. Nobody who followed Bates did anything good with the character, and DC’s New 52 turned him into a Dr. Manhattan knockoff. Now comes THE FALL AND RISE OF CAPTAIN ATOM by Bates and Greg Weisman which allows Bates to reboot the character close to Bates 1980s version. In his last battle, Captain Atom apparently dies but actually gets thrown back to the past. When he returns (I’m simplifying a lot of plot here)  he presents himself as a new, improved legacy hero — but what about the family he left in the past? And can he really trust his military superiors? Nothing’s been done with it since, and I’m not sure how it works for anyone who doesn’t love the 1980s version, but I give it solid thumbs up.

Andre Norton’s WITCH WORLD was an insanely weird genre mash-up when I read it in the 1970s (about ten years after it appeared). Simon Tregarth begins as a veteran forced into a life of crime which is about to get him killed. A mysterious occultist offers him an escape via the Round Table’s Siege Perilous, which magically takes anyone who sits in it to the world they belong.

From that thriller opening (which I like enough I’m working on a variation of it) Simon arrives in Estcarp, a land ruled by a matriarchy of witches. Already surrounded by hostile nations, they’re now facing the threat of the sinister Kolder, who turn out to be a high-tech race as alien to the “witch world” (never called that, it’s just the world) as Simon.

It’s a good book with some interesting characters; I particularly like that Simon, while competent, isn’t a chosen one or a superman, he’s just a competent soldier. He doesn’t really do anything spectacular until the final section of the story. Given how many protagonists I see who are devastatingly bad-ass, this was refreshing.

#SFWApro. Top cover by Tim Hildebrandt, middle by Lawrence, bottom by Jack Gaughan

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The Sandman That Time Forgot

Probably everyone reading this knows, at least by repute, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

The Golden Age Sandman also has a certain rep simply by virtue of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon working on him. The earlier Golden Age version, when he wore a business suit and a gas mask, became retroactively memorable thanks to Matt Wagner’s Sandman Mystery Theatre.

The Bronze Age Sandman? Not so memorable. Or at least, not memorable in a good way.

This character debuted in 1974 in a one-shot by Simon and Kirby. “General Electric,” a Japanese WW II veteran with an electronic head, is secretly plotting against the U.S., using animatronic dolls he’s designed to kill, kill and kill again! A young orphan, Jed, who lives with his fisherman grandfather ,has one of the dolls, which puts him at risk. Fortunately the Sandman — apparently the Sandman of folklore, though they don’t spell it out — intervenes to stop General Electric, ultimately taking him down with his hypersonic magic whistle (think the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver amped up by about 50).

This goofiness is actually typical of Joe Simon’s storytelling in the Bronze Age. But for whatever reason (Kirby’s art? The famous Simon/Kirby team reunited? People who, like me, picked it up out of curiosity at anew superhero?) Sandman sold very well. So well that DC launched a series in 1975 (in those days it took a while to get sales figures). Michael Fleisher and Ernie Chan took over story and art but kept the tone as much like Simon and Kirby as possible (Kirby returned starting in #4). The Sandman, accompanied by the living nightmares Brute and Glob, battled various oddball threats intruding on people’s dreams, with Jed invariably dragged into peril at some point.

I bought the entire run, probably because I’d already bought #1 and I was obsessively completist in those days. I don’t remember really liking it, and rereading recently I don’t discern any hidden depths or charm. If my age had been single digits when it came out, I’d probably have loved it, so maybe that was the market they were shooting for. Judging by the letter columns, that wasn’t the readership they were getting and by the sixth and final issue, they’d acknowledged the magic whistle was too much of a deus ex machina; they were going to work harder on putting the Sandman in real peril.

At the same time, it looked like they didn’t want to shake things up too much. The last couple of issues had Jeb going to live with bullying, abusive relatives and their fat, selfish, bullying son. It definitely felt like they were still trying to appeal to a young audience. The final issue does have one funny moment, in which Dr. Spider warns the White House that he’s ready to use the Sandman’s whistle to blow up Washington; instead of terror, everyone just laughs him off as a crank.

#6 would have been the end of the Sandman. But then Roy Thomas worked General Electric and Sandman into his run on Wonder Woman. Up to that point there’d been no sign Sandman belonged in the DC Universe at all, but now he was part of it. WW #300 revealed he was actually Garrett Sandford, a psychologist tossed into the dream dimension to save the president from nightmares. Unable to return except briefly, he set up shop as the Sandman. In Thomas’ later series, Infinity, Inc., the son of the Golden Age Hawkman, Hector Hall, assumes the Sandman role and takes his wife Lyta (daughter of the Golden Age Wonder Woman) off to dwell with him in the “Dream Stream.”

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman got rid of this pretender to the throne, revealing Glob and Brute were two of Morpheus’ creatures who’d run rogue and set up their own pocket dream universe. Sandford, then Hall, had just been dupes (I don’t remember why). Morpheus sent Hector’s soul into the afterlife, though he eventually returned to become Dr. Fate for a while. Lyta, despite being a good character, got much worse used: she gave birth to Daniel, who replaced Morpheus as the incarnation of Dream, and nobody found anything interesting to do with her after that.

General Electric appeared a couple of years back in DC’s Young Animals imprint so who knows? Maybe even the forgotten Sandman will put in an appearance some day. But I won’t feel bad if he doesn’t.

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

 

 

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A black amazon, black Frankenstein and a light-skinned black guy: books

As far as I know, Leigh Brackett’s only series hero was Eric John Stark, raised as a feral child in the twilight zone of Mercury before adventuring across Mars. In BLACK AMAZON OF MARS, Stark honors a dying friend’s request to return an ancient talisman to a polar Martian city. Too bad that pins Stark between a barbarian warlord starting the march to conquest there (the title and cover spoil the reveal about who’s really behind “his” iron mask) and the sinister ice creatures lurking under the polar cap. The small press edition I have also includes the forgettable “A World Is Born” and the entertaining “Child of the Sun.”

VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER (by Lavalle, Dietrich Smith and Joana LaFuente) has one good plot thread (a female scientist resurrects her son, gunned down unjustly by cops) and several that were much less interesting, including a covert government agency and the original Creature on a rampage. The uninteresting outweighed the good stuff for me.

INCOGNEGRO: Renaissance by Matt Johnson and Warren Pleece is a prequel to Incognegro in which light-skinned Zane is a cub reporter during the Harlem Renaissance. When a black writer drowns in a bathtub at a mixed-race party, the police wash their hands of it; Zane reluctantly uses his light skin to pass as white and investigate in ways nobody else could. Really good.

#SFWApro. Cover is uncredited, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Superheroes, teachers and a one-eyed preacher: books read

THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MIRANDA TURNER: If You Have Ghosts by George Kambadais and Jamie S. Rich introduces us to actor Miranda Turner AKA the Cat — except that was actually the identity of her sister Lindy (modeled on Harvey Comics’ Black Cat superhero, whose secret identity was Linda Turner) before she was murdered. Can Miranda take over the role without superpowers? And who was responsible for Lindy’s death? Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like we’ll get a volume two, as this was fun; however it works as a character arc (Miranda goes from reluctant hero to real hero) so if it has to stand alone, I can live with it.

HOLDING WONDER was Zenna Henderson’s follow-up collection to Anything Box, with a great many stories about teachers, whetherdealing with magical revenge (“The Believing Kind,”), telepathic students (“Sharing Time”), the apocalypse (“Three-Cornered and Secure.”) or murder (“You Know What, Teacher?” which is a straight suspense story). While it has more funny stories than the first collection, some of them are very dark; curiously, at least half the collection apparently wasn’t published before (so did she write them because the published ones weren’t long enough for a book, or what?).

THE BLACK KHAN: The Khorasan Archives Book Two by Ausma Zehanat Khan is competent, but it didn’t grab me at all. It might be my general lack of enthusiasm for epic fantasy, or that I expected more action and less intrigue and power struggles. Or just that, as editors say, it didn’t suit my needs at this time. Either way the story of various faction (including the Black Khan) intriguing over the looming threat of a religious zealot army and feuding over the mystical power known as the Claim didn’t work for me.

One thing Khan is really awful at (though I don’t think it’s why I didn’t like the book) is names. “The One Eyed Preacher” just doesn’t sound like a name (he’s the leader of the evil army) and calling his army The Talisman makes no sense (maybe it means something completely different in the book’s setting, but I’m reading it in our setting).

#SFWApro. Cover by George Kambadais, all rights remain with current holders.

 

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Sex, sin and … darts? Covers for Wednesday

As I’ve mentioned before, for a long time paperbacks were the go-to source for stories with S-E-X. Case in point:

I think we all know what they’ve been doing, right?

This one’s not only rapey, it’s fricking weird. In that position, I’m pretty sure her breasts should not be rising upwards like that.

Sex and SF combined! But I have to say even as a horny teen I wouldn’t have found “endless games of sex” with a cyclops a turn-on.

Cover by HG. I’ve no idea what darts have to do with anything, but I like the look.

Now, for something completely different—
A scene from Marv Wolfman and Steve Gan’s Skull the Slayer, a 1975 comic about a former Vietnam POW and several others (angry black guy, angry feminist, rebellious youth) who find themselves in a lost world inside the Bermuda Triangle. While DC’s Warlord took a similar concept and made it a hit, Skull one never quite found its footing. Still it’s an interesting mix of multiple 1970s pop-culture tropes, as I wrote about over at Atomic Junkshop.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holder. Art for the first three covers is uncredited.

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International intrigue, overpopulation and spelunking: books read

John LeCarré’s ABSOLUTE FRIENDS is the most disappointing novel of his since The Naive and Sentimental Lover. The protagonist, Bruno Salvo, is a Congolese/Irish mixed-race translator with a flair for African languages. A client in British intelligence hires Salvo to attend a conference at which a visionary Congolese leader will build an alliance with Western power players to unite his war-torn country and restore Freedom and Democracy … eventually. When Salvo realizes the conference does not have his people’s interest at heart (which I’m pretty sure anyone who’s read it figured out as fast as I did) he tries to do something about it but runs headlong into the corrupt British forces involved. Just as the last third of Absolute Friends recycled war on terror cliches, this book feels like a Cold War thriller of 60 years ago (just switch out the corrupt business interests for Commies). Even LeCarré’s writing couldn’t hold me on this one.

Robert Bloch’s THIS CROWDED EARTH is set in a dystopian late 20th century world where curing disease and age has led to massive overpopulation: skyscrapers are hundreds of stories high, elevators can take an hour to deliver you (to say nothing of how crowded they are) and having one room to live in is luxurious. The protagonist finally snaps and gets sent to a mental hospital — but with space at such a premium, why does it have private rooms and spacious grounds? Why do the nurses keep jumping his bones? It turns out he’s part of the big and secret plan to save the world, but there are a few bumps along the way …  This comes off less as the dystopian fiction I expected and more a metacommentary on dystopian SF, showing the usual solutions won’t work (we can’t colonize the Solar System to drain off the crowds), the Resistance is half-assed and incompetent and all the predictions about dystopia from the 1950s (this was a late-1950s novel) turned out wrong. Given Bloch’s usual cynicism, I’m surprised he actually offered a happy ending; overall this was more interesting than good, and it’s very sausage fest-ish (two hot nurses and one mom in one scene are all the female presence we get).

In the Silver Age, spelunking adventurer Cave Carson headed an adventure team on the lines of the Sea Devils or the Time Masters but he never got his own series. Nevertheless, he has popped up several times since that era, and finally landed a starring slot with Gerard Way, Jon Rivera and Michael Avon Oeming’s CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE: Underground. His glory days over, Cave now works on underground drilling vehicles for the powerful EBX tech and struggles to rein in his rebellious daughter Chloe (Mom, a subterranean princess, has passed away). When it turns out EBX is up to no good, Cave, Chloe and the obscure superhero Wild Dog (yes, the prototype for the guy in Arrow) must work together to save the lost race of Muldoog and stop EBX from unleashing a demonic monster. Hardly up to the level of Way’s Umbrella Academy, but fun as a weird pulpish underground adventure (certainly better than Paul Chadwick’s The World Below).

#SFWApro. Art by Bernard Bailey, all rights remain with current holder.

 

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Supergirl, POWs and Beast Master’s return: books read

Steve Orlando’s SUPERGIRL run has been uneven, at best, and Plain Sight (following Reign of the Cyborg Supermen, Escape from the Phantom Zone and V3, which I haven’t read) doesn’t improve things. The new boss of the DEO is a hardliner who believes any metahumans not taking orders from him are a threat, and so he keeps throwing villains at Supergirl in an attempt to — well, I’m not sure exactly. And cloning the TV show (instead of the previous set-up, which I liked) still doesn’t work for me, particularly when they throw in stock high-school tropes as well.

UNTIL THE LAST MAN COMES HOME: POWs, MIAs and the Unending Vietnam War by Michael J. Allen ponders how our lost soldiers became such a major issue when we had fewer of them than previous wars and they made up a smaller percentage of the troops. As Allen shows, the Vietnamese started the ball rolling by repatriating prisoners to anti-war activists (proving they could do business with reasonable Americans), then families of POWs began organizing as a political force. Nixon tried appropriating the cause (Allen argues that contrary to some historians, he was never the prime mover, though his insistence MIAs should be assumed to be POWs certainly stirred things up) as a reason to keep fighting, only to find many POW families wanted a quick end so the prisoners could be released. After the war, later presidents tried to exploit or bury the issue, with Reagan exploiting it best. However even he found giving lip service to Accounting For Every Last Soldier only set up hopes nobody could fulfill, furthering the POW advocates’ sliding into political paranoia (if I ever write a book on conspiracy theories in the real world, this topic’s going in there!) that saw recovering remains as proof of the conspiracy (why weren’t they recovering live prisoners instead?). An impressive stud, though I’d have liked Allen to tackle the theme in popular culture, such as the spate of Reagan-era movies including Rambo.

LORD OF THUNDER was Andre Norton’s less satisfying follow-up to Beast Master. A year after the first book, Hosteen Storm discovers a grand council of the native Arzorian tribes which several people worry is the prelude to war. On the plus side, it also provides an excuse for Stpr, to travel into the wilderness and hunt for the missing son of an offworlder (even at the time I imagine formally addressing the dude as “Gentle Homo” must have generated snickers). Things get complicated when it turns out a PTSDed Terran veteran is out to use lost ET machines to conquer the world, forcing Storm to pit his natural gifts against the cold threat of technology. The book has its moments, but the plots don’t knit together well and it lacks the first book’s emotional core (Storm finding his place in a new world). And like the first book, it’s an all-male story.

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

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Mars Needs … Ghosts? Books read

While it’s not an actual goal, I do plan on rereading a lot of old favorites this year, including SF author Leigh Brackett. THE SWORD OF RHIANNON is set on Brackett’s version of Mars, an Edgar Rice Burroughs-influenced dying world where treacherous, corrupt cities sit on the edges of dried-up seas. Carse is an Earther who’s made a name for himself as a criminal on Mars; when he tries to loot the tomb of Rhiannon, the ancient Martian lord of evil, Carse somehow winds up back in the past, when Mars was still a fertile world. He finds himself enslaved, then leading the fight against the tyrants of Sark, but it turns out Rhiannon isn’t done with him …

This combines elements of Burroughs with A. Merritt’s Dwellers in the Mirage, resulting in a book that’s familiar (it’s far from Brackett’s most original work) but pleasantly entertaining (if you’re into old-style pulp adventure, which I am). However her use of Celtic names such as Rhiannon (and other knock-off names such as “Barrakesh”) is very jarring, though maybe the original audience wouldn’t have picked up on that. It’s also very reminiscent of themes in her later Skaith novels (dying world, genetically engineered races adapted to different environments) though that’s not a flaw, just something I didn’t pick up on during my first reading.

GHOSTS KNOW by the great horror writer Ramsey Campbell was a real disappointment. Given the title, I understandably assumed this would be a ghost story; instead it’s a tale about a talk-radio host who tries to boost ratings by challenging a fake psychic. This leads to the host getting framed as the kidnapper in a case the psychic is investigating, so the end result is a Hitchcock-style story of an innocent man struggling to clear his name. Unfortunately the protagonist is too much of a sulky jerk for his plight to engage me and the lack of a supernatural element was a disappointment.

The fourth and final volume of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ KILL OR BE KILLED (I’ve previously read Vol. 1 and 2) has vigilante protagonist Dylan stuck in a mental hospital after assaulting one of his friends. When he tries to tell the doctor what he’s been doing, they point out the vigilante killings are still going on; he insists it’s a copycat, they insist he’s delusional. Meanwhile, the Russian Mafia is still tracking him down for his attacks on them. Focusing so much on Dylan’s internal struggles was a mistake because as I complained before, he’s the weakest part of the series, a stereotypical millennial whining about living a shitty life in a shitty world he never made. A bigger problem is that the ending twist, while not Kingdom of the Wicked awful, is pretty bad. I’m glad I used the library instead of putting money down on this.

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: Sub-Mariner is a Silver Age collection primarily by Stan Lee and Gene Colan (the Adam Austin of some issues is Colan under a pseudonym). This opens with a Daredevil story in which Namor goes to court, only to back out when treacherous warlord Krang tries taking over Atlantis to wage war on the surface world; to prove his right to the throne Namor, in his own series, must seek out the trident of Neptune in an adventure that resembles the Aquaman movie’s plot.

Colan’s art is awesome but the writing is second-rate Lee. Krang is an uninspired villain who does everything but twirl his mustache and Dorma, Namor’s love, is just a train wreck, never displaying any agency except when it makes things worse for Namor. And because Subby is alone so much, we get way too much of his bombastic, high-flown speech pattern without any normal people to balance it out. Lee and Colan still infuse this with enough drama to make it entertaining, but it’s not A-list.

#SFWApro. All rights to images (I don’t know the first artist; second cover is Colan’s) remain with current holder.

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Behold Prince Namor, the Sub-Aquaman! Or Is It Arthur, the Aqua-Mariner?

I really enjoyed Aquaman, which TYG and I saw this weekend (I’ll get the review this weekend). But as a Silver Age kid, it struck me as being as much Marvel’s Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner as it was DC’s Aquaman.

In the Silver Age, Aquaman and Prince Namor had a lot in common. Both started out as solo acts (well, Aquaman did have Aqualad) who despite being human/Atlantean eventually became rulers of their respective Atlantises. At the same time, they were very different in style and tone. Aquaman was a straight superhero who happened to be a king. While he fought off threats to Atlantis in several stories, he battled plenty of surface-based villains: O.G.R.E. (Organization for General Revenge and Enslavement), Ocean Master, Black Manta, the Fisherman, the Awesome Threesome, the Huntress, and the dimension-shifting city of Necrus.

Prince Namor, on the other hand, started as a noble villain and worked his way up to anti-hero. In the early issues of Fantastic Four he battled the team in revenge for his (supposedly) destroyed undersea race (who weren’t identified as Atlanteans until well after Aquaman had become an Atlantean) and to win the Invisible Girl as his wife. After he got his own series, he hovered around the anti-hero level, always ready to beat up surface men, but also dedicated to ruling Atlantis well and protecting it.

The kind of political intrigue in the Aquaman movie is much closer to Namor’s style than Aquaman’s. Heck the whole plotline of Arthur searching for the trident of Atlan to prove his right to the throne resembles a Silver Age arc in which Namor had to find Neptune’s trident to prove his right to the throne. Namor constantly had to fight off rivals such as Krang, Attuma and Byrrah; Aquaman’s rule was rarely challenged (I’ve been reading a TPB of Silver Age Namor, which I’ll be reviewing eventually).

Since then, Namor’s often been away from Atlantis, getting exiled or outcast on a semi-regular basis. DC has developed their Atlantis a lot more, with a great many more internal struggles and a lot more hostility to the surface. So it’s not as if the movie’s Atlantean elements were just whipped up when they started on the script.

But like I said, it’s noticeable how much the two fish-men have converged.

#SFWApro. Cover by Nicholas Cardy (Aquaman) and Gene Colan (Subby). All rights remain with current holder.

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Teen superheroes, nonfiction film, meditation and first contact: books

I’ve written before about my fondness for the original 1960s Teen Titans. TEEN TITANS: The Silver Age Volume 1 starts with their tryout issues of Brave and the Bold and Showcase then follows up with the first 11 issues of their own book as they battle drag racers, bikers, unruly college kids, renegade rockers and more. Lightweight fun with gorgeous art by Nick Cardy, though Bob Haney really did have a tin ear for hip teen dialogue (“We’re wild, woolly and full of gum drops!”).

Like Mark Harris’s Pictures at a Revolution, his FIVE CAME BACK: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War uses a small set of stories to capture a big canvas. The focus is five directors (George Stevens, Frank Capra, William Wyler, John Huston and John Ford) who put their talents at the service of the War Department capturing combat footage (Ford’s famous Battle of Midway) or making documentaries explaining Why We Fight while coping with obstacles including timing (Steven and Huston both missed crucial Big Moments), military bureaucracy, accuracy (occasionally fudged) and shifting public taste (by the time the Why We Fight films came out, they were dated). From this Harris looks at the shifting attitudes towards making ripped-from-the-headlines movies, to the war, and to Jews (Hollywood moguls were aware that being pro-war would draw attention to their Jewishness) and post-war cinema. The theme doesn’t hold together as well as Harris’ previous book and it sometimes looks like he hasn’t seen the films he’s writing about (I would not describe Charles Coburn’s crotchety official in The More the Merrier as a kindly retiree). Still, it works overall.


DOCUMENTARY: A History of the Non-Fiction Film
by Erik Barnouw starts with the early days of cinema when simply capturing the real world on film could hold an audience spellbound. Then Barnouw moves through the once legendary Eskimo documentary Nanook of the North and newsreels to the more activist political films of the 1930s, then such trends as historical documentaries made up of old film clips and Talking Heads films (I was surprised to learn this was once a novel idea). The book only runs through the 1980s, but it does a good job looking around the world (Soviet and Chinese documentaries, for instance) and exploring questions of authenticity, bias and fake news (which go back to the early days).

THE BICYCLE EFFECT: Cycling as Meditation by Juan Carlos Kreimer seemed worth reading as I both bicycle and meditate. Unfortunately too much of the book regurgitates factoids about bicycling and Kreimer’s cycling experiences, and the Zen stuff isn’t any different from many other books I’ve read. Still, being banal rather than actively awful puts it head and shoulders above Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

FIRST CONTACTS: The Essential Murray Leinster left me with the feeling that like a lot of short-story writers, Leinster is better read in small doses; not that they’re bad, just that something in his style becomes dull with repetition. And his view of first contact is remarkably grim, a running theme being that one civilization will inevitably destroy the other if only in self-defense (First Contact has an Earth and an alien ship struggling to find a way out of that dilemma). The most famous story is A Logic Named Joe, which predicts desktop computers, the Internet, Google and cyberstalking (and it’s actually fun, too); others include Plague on Kryden II (a space doctor caught in a murder mystery), the whimsical Fourth Dimensional Demonstrator and Sideways In Time, a good parallel world story. Worth one look, but Leinster’s not someone I’ll ever love.

#SFWApro. Cover by Nick Cardy, all rights remain with current holder.

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