Menstrual pads should not be a luxury (and other political links)

And no, nothing in here is an April fool’s joke. I wish!

Incarcerated women in Maine only get a limited supply of menstrual products. Republican State Rep. Richard Pickett thinks giving women all the supplies they need would turn prison into a country club.

Serial sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, on the other hand did go to a club fed prison, and then he left that half the day to work at his office. It’s almost like law does not treat the rich powerful men and imprisoned women equally …

The GOP has been surprisingly ineffective at using the Mueller report and Trump’s supposed exoneration to shift public opinion. That doesn’t stop them trying to put the spotlight back on Clinton.

“Only in the elite media are there people who dislike Trump and feel bad about it.

Faced with a lawsuit over his claims the Sandy Hook school shooting was faked, Alex Jones says he was wrong, but not guilty by reason of insanity. And the media drove him to it!

There’s a lot of pessimism about America’s future since the rise of Trump, but here’s some optimism.

A gay prosecutor talks about the consequences of employers being able to fire him for being gay.

Boys at one high school had an organized system for rating girls’ hotness. The girls pushed back.

A Florida man raped his neighbor, offered to do some yard work in return, then asked her to shake hands so he could trust her not to call the cops. She called the cops, he’s serving 50 years.

The complexity of hate crime statistics.

One of the standard religious-right excuses for dropping the whole “we want moral Christian leaders” pretense is that Trump is a godless instrument chosen to serve the godly, just as the Persian conqueror Cyrus the Great brought the Jews back to Israel from exile. As I pointed out in an old And column, American Christians are not in exile.

Supposed deep thinker Stefan Molyneux blames ADHD on immigrants and single mothers.

The new right-wing idiot theory: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t a real congress member, she’s a paid actor. Um, no matter what they say (and like Edroso at the link, I’m sure this crap won’t disappear, even though it’s dumb), she got elected, ergo she’s a real congress person. It’s sort of like the birther paranoids, it’s easier to imagine that their adversary isn’t really entitled to her office. Oh, and trans people are trying to turn us all into cyborgs. See why I wish there were some April Fool stuff in here?

Last month the Supreme Court let Alabama execute a Muslim prisoner without making a spiritual counselor of his own faith available. This month, they did the opposite (I don’t know if the difference is that the prisoner is Buddhist, or what).

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A poisoner, a dragon, a witch: books read

THE POISONER: The Life and Times of Victorian England’s Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates recounts the story of the once infamous William Palmer, a Victorian medic put on trial for poisoning his best friend with strychnine and suspected of dozens more cases. Although Arthur Conan Doyle name-drops Palmer as a brilliant doctor and criminal in The Adventure of the Speckled Band, Bates shows that he was neither — more a desperate man, under water on his gambling debts, who resorted to poisoning a friend (and possibly a couple more people) to get money. Part of the public’s morbid fascination with the story was the use of strychnine, a new and hard to trace poison (up until the early 20th century, poison was close to undetectable), partly that Palmer was precisely the kind of dignified middle-class chap who ought to be above such behavior (as Black Swine in the Sewers of Hampstead discusses). Its cultural impact aside, like the shooting of Stanford White this former Crime of the Century isn’t that startling by today’s standards; Bates does a good job making it interesting even so, but the trial really bogs down in detail (as usual, I don’t blame him for getting into more detail than I was interested in).

I had the same reaction to the third volume of SAVAGE DRAGON ARCHIVES as I did to Savage Dragon: A New Beginning, that auteur Erik Larsen’s way too fond of recycling Jack Kirby to no purpose. This wastes a lot of space on New Gods/Thor-style deities engaging in Kirby-style conflicts and it all felt canned, with none of the passion Kirby showed for that kind of storytelling. On top of which, the sheer number of dramatic moments — Dragon’s dead! No, he’s alive in a new body! Now his Great Love is dead! Now someone else he loves is dead! OMG, he has a son! — and the lengthy exposition about past continuity made the whole thing feel like a parody, except parodies are actually funny (and if Larsen was trying for ironic meta-commentary, Astro City does that a lot better)

IT TAKES A WITCH: A Wishcraft Mystery by Heather Blake didn’t work for me at all, but I guess that’s not surprising: I’m not particularly a cozy mystery fan and I’m not a fan of complicated magic systems. And this book is full of multiple magical paths, each with its own elaborate rules (it feels very much like D&D specialists or subclasses); the protagonist is a “wishcrafter” who can grant wishes but only if they meet a variety of rules (no killing people, the wish must be sincere, you can’t grant another mage’s wishes — and you can’t tell anyone you’re a witch or you lose your powers). The first couple of chapters are very info-dumpy and the protagonist’s attraction to a studly cop felt canned (I will discuss this more in a later post). That said, this has become a successful cozy series so obviously a lot of people who are not me like it.

Finally, if anyone wants to click over to Atomic Junkshop, I reviewed the Joker’s 1975 solo series, recently TPB-ed as JOKER: Clown Prince of Crime.

#SFWApro. Top cover by Erik Larsen, bottom by Dick Giordano.

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An avenger, a hunter and a comedian: Movies and TV

I stumbled onto the movie ALLEY CAT (1984) while hunting unsuccessfully for Black Cat, a Chinese version of La Femme Nikita. Karin Mani plays a black belt who slaps around a couple of giggling psychos she catches swiping her tires. Their PO’d boss sends them to teach her a lesson, resulting in her grandma dead and her grandfather in hospital; when the legal system proves useless (when Mani stops the psychos raping a woman, a cop busts her as the aggressor), Mani takes justice into her own hands. This is low budget but works pretty well, except the film throws in a women’s prison subplot midway through for extra exploitation value (women showering naked! Lesbian sexual assault!) and it’s a waste of film. A minor point is that Amazon for some reason lists this as a 1969 film — it’s getting way harder than it used to be to figure out film dates, because there are so many sources and they often disagree. “It can’t be blackmail as I have asked for neither money nor a favor.”

Richard Connell’s classic short story The Most Dangerous Game is a classic in which a shipwrecked big-game hunter finds his Russian host, Count Zaroff, has taken to hunting humans to compensate for the ease with which he kills everything else. Zaroff’s the best of the best, but this time he has an adversary who might be his equal.

It’s not easy to successfully expand a short story to feature-film length, but 1932’s THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME pulls it off handily. Produced by Merian C. Cooper at the same time he was making King Kong, this has Joel McCrae as the hunter, Leslie Banks as Zaroff, and Fay Wray as an earlier castaway Zaroff has different plans for (“First the kill — then love!”)! Sharing some of King Kong‘s sets and adding some of its own (Zaroff’s isolated castle is fabulous), this is a good-looking, well-made production, well worth seeing. “If you choose to act as a leopard, I shall hunt you as a leopard.”

The second season of THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL continues in the vein of S1: Midge and Susie continue trying to build Midge’s career, despite having earned the hostility of an influential comic and Midge’s family freaking out when they learn what she’s been doing with her evenings. The season doesn’t entirely work; Abe’s (Tony Shalhoub) career woes get tedious and the family’s trip to Paris, while funny, feels like one an old TV special (season openers would often take the show to Paris or Rome or somewhere to grab extra eyeballs). A prolonged visit to the Catskills’ “borscht belt” (Jewish-friendly resorts in the days when many hotels were No Jews — it’s the same setting as Dirty Dancing, on the other hand, worked quite well. There are also subplots involving Midge’s new boyfriend and Joel trying to figure out his post-divorce life. However I do hope the final scenes of the season ender do not lead in the direction I think they might (but I’m not spoiling them).  “I feel like Sisyphus, but without the loincloth and the flowing hair.”

 

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My answer was ‘recalled to life’

The use of the Dickens quote in the title is my way to say after close to two months of lackluster performance, I had a good week of writing.

The biggest accomplishment was that I finished a draft of the Undead Sexist Cliches book. This was a minor landmark because it’s the first coherent draft. I kept shifting back and forth in earlier drafts on how to break things down, which fact or anecdote went in which chapter and frequently repeating myself. Now I think I’ve honed it so that it has a logical structure. There’s the introduction (about why I’m writing it, and about sexism in general). A chapter on “everyone knows men and women are different” which is the bedrock on which most of these cliches rest. A couple of chapters on why feminism is supposedly evil. One on why all the heroes have to be men. One on rape cliches (probably the largest), one on sexual harassment and one on sex and relationships in general. I may expand them with more examples of sexism, but I think the set-up is solid.

Next up: beta reading! I sent it out to a couple of friends, one in the writing group, one generally interested in this sort of thing. Both women, because the one thing I can’t provide is a woman’s point of view. I might ask a couple of others (I’ve asked one more beta, but haven’t heard back). And then, after I get their feedback, the revisions begin.

It feels really good to have made significant progress on something.

I also mailed out three short stories (one already came back), found a possible market for one of my older novels (hopefully it’ll go out next week), submitted a query for a column (no interest), and put up a couple of items on eBay. They’re movie posters from some of my movie books, so I count that as writing time — and I’d be quite happy to get rid of them productively (i.e., putting them in the trash is just a waste).

I also got back to my regular exercise routine, which had tanked with everything else during March. It looks like I’ll make about 50 percent of my March goals at best (I may accomplish a couple this weekend). However I rearranged my schedule some, and I think that helped. I’ll blog more about that next week.

Wisp, alas, was not happy with us leaving her for last weekend’s Mensa trip. Whether it was not getting her food on the schedule she’s used to or having our neighbor come over to put the food out (Wisp’s still pretty cautious — I could easily see her having a Stranger Danger reaction), she’s gone back to staying invisible and quiet (the photo’s an old one). Usually we don’t even know she’s there until after the food is eaten. Hopefully having us put out food regularly will restore her confidence in us; she did show up one evening and stare at the dogs through the window so she’s not completely alienated.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine, please acknowledge if you use.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Nanananananana — Batman!

So last Friday, TYG and I headed to Greenville, SC, to attend the annual Mensa RG (regional gathering) there. Given how crazy our schedule has been lately, we were less enthused about it than usual, but for the same reason, we needed a break. The theme of the RG was the 1966 Batman TV show and I’d agreed to give a talk on the show Friday, as a kind of kickoff. Below, you can see me in this year’s RG T-shirt.

I’m so glad we went. Not only did I get a break from pup-watching (we boarded them for the weekend) but we had fun. A lot of that was hanging with our friends down there, but also with each other. With TYG’s workload, we don’t get to hang out as much as we’d like, but this weekend we managed it.

Every year we play in Blonde Bowl, a quiz bowl where the last line of every question is a “blonde,” obvious clue (e.g., “… name this baseball player whose life was dramatized on screen in The Jackie Robinson Story, Jackie Robinson — All American and The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson.”), though people still flub it. I was feeling so wiped I wasn’t sure I was up to playing, but TYG signed up so I joined her team, the Lannisters (she’s a big GoT fan). While she often insists she’s not really good at things like this, she was amazing — six questions answered in the first round out of 20, giving us a slot in the finals. Overall I got one more question than she did, but more of mine were on the blonde clues. I had one frustrating moment when I recognized on the first sentence that Charlie, our quizmaster, was talking about Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight, but got confused and said “Sir Gawaine” as the answer instead of “The Green Knight” (I’ve had similar glitches before).

On the plus side, we came down in the finals to a dead heat at the last question. About two sentences in, I recognized the name “Roland Daggett” from Batman: The Animated Series and guessed, correctly, that the city we were being asked about was Gotham City. So that was a pretty satisfactory win.

My talk on the TV show went really well and I got several compliments on it, and my being able to deliver it without any notes. I was actually a little surprised at that myself, but comics and related matters have always been something that sticks in my mind.

Otherwise, let’s see. We got to snuggle in the mornings without the dogs demanding attention, played poker (well, TYG played, I just watched), and I got to sample an $1,100 bottle of scotch. I don’t have the palate to appreciate it, but when someone offered me a sip, I couldn’t pass it up. If nothing else, the scent of the drink was really neat to inhale.

Sunday morning we hung out with TYG’s mom and brother, who live in the area, then we headed home and collected the dogs. I know the refreshed feeling won’t last but it was really great.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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Decriminalizing homosexuality and other political links

I was pleased when the Trump administration announced it would push for decriminalizing homosexuality worldwide. Like NMMNB, I’m not surprised they aren’t doing it.

I’m a big fan of the Southern Poverty Law Center, but if former top kick Morris Dees was indeed racist and sexist, it’s a good thing they fired him.

OMG, abortion cells in vaccines neutralize the power of prayer!

Beto O’Rourke has one big advantage in running for president.

Trump continues screwing over Puerto Rico.

What exactly should we say to put Confederate memorials in context?

What happens to the information gathered by smart watches?

Steve Bannon is very upset that the Russia probe will set back his efforts to “unite the Judeo-Christian west,” presumably against all the nonwhites and non-Christians. Given Russia’s history of anti-semitism and the growing anti-Semitism in the American right, I have a strange suspicion Bannon doesn’t mean the “Judeo” part.

Katha Pollitt looks at the admissions cheating scandal (“These excellent schools are not called Yale or Georgetown, though, and they don’t look as good on your sweatshirt or your BMW.”)

“To be clear: the definitions provided in this bill would ensure that books discussing sexual assault, books that educate healthy sexuality, and especially those which discuss non-heteronormative sex or sexuality would be deemed ‘pornographic.’

Sen. Mike Lee explains we can solve climate change by having more babies.

Because of the Trump/Republican tax cuts, we’re running a big deficit. Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos decided one way to trim the deficit is cut funding for Special Olympics.

The alt.right keeps moving in on the Republican Party.

A couple of years ago, Bret Easton Ellis had a hissy fit about whiny millennial snowflakes. At Bookforum, Andrea Long Chu dissects Ellis’ newest freakout beautifully (“Indeed, one cannot read White as anything but a book about being rich and bored.”).

White Kansas voters tell a researcher they support cutting school spending because it all goes to blacks who waste the money. At the link, Slacktivist scoffs at the researcher’s claim that doesn’t make the voters racist.

Right-wing pseudo historian David Barton was a big supporter of Mark Harris, the NC Republican whose campaign tried stealing votes and tampering with absentee ballots last year. Guess which party Barton claims is going to steal elections by absentee ballot?

Good for her! A sheriff resigns rather than obey a court order to reopen an unsafe jail.

To wrap up on a book cover note, here’s one by Charles Binger.

All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Making choices and Southern Discomfort

“In a world where all fundamental laws can be rewritten, it is also illuminating which of them aren’t.” says Mimi Mondal in the Hindustani Times. Her point being that worldbuilding in specfic always has political overtones. A world where being gay is unremarkable and acceptable is a political statement, but so is a book that doesn’t have any gay characters.

Which seems like a good launch point for discussing how I’ve handled such questions in both Atoms for Peace and Southern Discomfort. The first is an alternative history in which SF-movies of the 1950s are everyday reality; in the second, one small town has been changed by the presence of two elves as the unofficial leaders since its founding. As a result I changed some of the real world in each book, but not all of it.

In Atoms for Peace women have made huge gains compared to our reality. Much like WW II, the government needs them to make up for the manpower shortage caused by men entering the military or the National Guard. A lot of people still give lip service to the 1950s standards of our world, and plenty of people feel like that’s the way the world should be, but in practice women get to see a lot more adventure than they would have in our timeline (no disrespect intended to those real women who pushed the envelope).

Black Americans, however, are doing worse. Blaming integration and civil rights activism on ET agitators works just as well as blaming it on Communists did. In our 1950s, the federal government’s response to civil rights was influenced by the need not to look better than the USSR (Jim Crow did not serve that end); in Atoms for Peace that pressure is removed. So it’s not looking good.

Gays? Well nothing’s changed for them; they’re still in the closet and still barred from serving in the federal government (though some people are willing to turn a blind eye if the gay’s got valuable skills).

That’s all reasonable, I think, but Mondal has a point it reflects  my writing choices, not some abstract analysis. I write a lot of women into my stories; I don’t use PoC as often. So it’s not surprising I focused on changes that improve women’s lives. I probably could have made bigger and more positive changes to civil rights too (I really don’t see gay rights budging much), but I don’t like the idea of making everything better — it feels way too utopian. So I made my call.

In Southern Discomfort, by contrast, the big change was race. The black residents of Pharisee County have been better off than most of the south, but they’ve still had to deal with slavery and Jim Crow. The role of women and gays in Pharisee isn’t much different from the real world.

As with Atoms for Peace I think that’s a plausible set of changes, but I could have rationalized different ones. With Olwen McAlister around, women could have easily been given more respect. The McAlisters aren’t bothered by anyone’s sexual orientation, so it could have been a more gay-friendly community than typical for 1973. But again, I prefer better-but-flawed over utopian in my alt.Earth settings.

Good decision? Bad decision? Too limited in rewriting the fundamental laws? Wish I knew.

#SFWApro. Cover by Zakaria Nada, all rights are mine.

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Young Doc Savage: A tentative chronology

As I mentioned a few years ago, I’m fascinated by the missing years in Doc Savage’s life. The series tells us  almost nothing about the time between Doc meeting his five friends in WW I and the beginning of his career in The Man of Bronze. And what we do know seems contradictory. The Purple Dragon and Devil’s Playground establish Doc was busting crooks back as far as the late 1920s yet Man of Bronze states clearly that he and his friends are only now beginning their great crusade against evil.

An easy explanation for the contradictions is that both books were by Lester Dent’s ghostwriters, putting in their own ideas. Will Murray’s Writings in Bronze shows Dent was quite willing to rewrite his ghosts’ work to suit the series better but he might have missed the contradictions, given the several years between their books and Man of Bronze. Then again, Dent’s second novel, Land of Terror, establishes Doc’s crime college is already up and running, and that shipping criminals there is SOP for him. And in novel #1, a cop who spots Doc speeding tells his rookie partner not to even think about ticketing Doc; he’s such a big deal, even Mayor LaGuardia would turn handsprings if Doc asked him.

That could be because he’s the son of the great philanthropist Clark Savage Sr., but the impression I get is that Doc has earned this respect in his own right. This could be due to his medical skills — Land of Terror mentions that one of the city’s top political bosses is only alive because of Doc. However, the bulk of the evidence works better if we assume Doc and his friends have been busting heads and taking names since at least 1929 (according to the The Purple Dragon) and possibly earlier.

The most logical solution is that prior to Man of Bronze, our heroes saw whatever adventures they had as a dry run, a test to see if they had what it takes (Doc points out that while he’s been trained for this from birth, the guys haven’t). It’s not until the death of Clark Savage Sr., prior to the opening pages of that first novel, that they commit themselves 100 percent.

Doc, of course, has been committed from birth. But I don’t think he counted his earlier adventures because he had another kind of training: school.

Murray’s book quotes from a couple of novels establishing that Doc’s dad began his training at birth; it lasted until he was around twenty. Dad recruited the best, but having a college seal of approval would still make it easier to prove himself. Particularly as his first love is surgery; there’s no way he gets a medical license without going to medical school. Factoring that in, here’s my tentative timeline for his life prior to Man of Bronze:

Doc is born in 1900 (I’m picking the year arbitrarily because it’s cooler than being born in, say, 1897). His parents launch his training but after the US gets involved in WW I, Doc takes a powder so that he can get in on the excitement (adventure in what was seen as a great moral crusade, that would suit him perfectly). He meets his five friends (whether or not it was in a prison camp) and discovers that he really is suited to the life of heroism he’s being trained for.

Doc returns home, completes his training and starts college in 1920. Quite aside from the benefit of formal credentials, a lot of his training wasn’t academic (combat skills, wilderness survival, memorizing street maps of major cities). It’s quite possible he still had something to learn. While Doc could breeze through his classes easily enough, I’m guessing he took several degrees (and possibly advanced degrees) so it’s plausible he graduated in 1924. He may have been relieved to be done; in a time when the “gentleman’s C” was considered a good grade for a man of his social class and college involved lots of partying and dating, Doc would have come off as a “wet,” AKA what later generations would call a square. Then again, he was young; perhaps he dabbled in partying and found it wasn’t for him.

(This Millennium Comics mini took a look at the pre-Man of Bronze era)

Next comes medical school, another four years, bringing us to 1928. Then comes his residency, which could easily run the five years to 1933, particularly as he probably wanted to qualify in several specialties.  And of course he wasn’t just studying in those years. The Fortress of Solitude is up and running by Man of Bronze and Doc’s already got a boatload of scientific devices, probably developed there. Maybe that’s where he developed the surgical techniques he used at his crime college (I’ll be writing about that soon) and undoubtedly he kept leaping into adventures with his friends. But until he’d completed all his studies, he couldn’t commit to being the nemesis of all evil.

I can see lots of different timelines that would work as well, but this is the one I like best.

#SFWApro. Covers by James Bama (top) and Tony Harris, all rights remain with current holder.

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Who could have predicted Sen. Thom Tillis would ring his hands and do nothing? Everyone.

Prior to the vote on Trump’s emergency build-a-wall declaration, NC Sen. Thom Tillis declared the declaration was unacceptable and he was going to vote against it. Guess what? He voted for it.

Lance Mannion says GOP donors intimidated Tillis by threatening to fund a primary challenger for him next year. I frankly wonder if Tillis ever meant to go against Trump or if he was simply positioning himself as a Sensible Moderate Conservative in case Trump goes down. Sure, he may have voted for Trump’s emergency powers, but he was forced! He felt really bad about it! Sorry, senator, but as Thomas Jefferson once said, it’s in our actions and not our words that our hearts are read (and Tillis’ words are frequently lies). Sen. Richard Burr, didn’t even go as far as Tilis: he was an enthusiastic Trump supporter, as usual.

Utah approves hate-crime protection for gays, because the bill throws in protection for Trump supporters.

People aren’t poor because they lack intelligence, their intelligence goes down because poverty drains it.

Anti-semitism keeps surfacing on the right: online comic Owen Benjamin claims Hitler didn’t hate Jews, “he hated filth and was trying to clean it up.”

The right continues to demonize Muslims. Fred Clark looks at the general raving paranoia on the right (they’re going to put Christians in concentration camps and concludes people believe it (whether it is a false-flag shooting, a pedophile slave ring because they choose to believe it: “They purport to be fearful and concerned and upset by this news of evil “Momo” messengers preying on children. If that claim was made in good faith, then these folks would be relieved to learn that it’s all a hoax and a lie. “Oh, thank God,” they would say. But they do not say this and they are not relieved, because they preferred to go on pretending that it was true. Confronted with the evidence of the hoax they had chosen to avoid glancing at, they get angry and resentful to have it pointed out to them.”

I suspect the same sort of logic fuels the fantasy attacks like New Zealand’s are false flags by the left.

And, of course, fantasies about the other side being evil lead into calls to kill them first. Or believing that

So what do the Bible verses about obeying the king and rendering unto Caesar mean in the 21st century? A good discussion here.

Last year Florida voters restored voting rights to convicted criminals. Republicans try to prevent them voting anyway.

I’ve written before about Trump cabinet member and former prosecutor Alexander Acosta breaking Florida law to cut a plea bargain deal with accused child molester Jeffrey Epstein. Now it turns out that as Epstein’s guilty plea involved sex with a sixteen year old, he doesn’t have to register as a sexual predator.

Howard Schulz continues fantasizing he’s the Trump-killer candidate. And some Dems fantasize, just like Obama did, that they can win over Republicans.

In the wake of the recent college recruiting scandal, an insider discusses how often they had to admit mediocre rich kids over the talented poor to land that sweet, sweet full tuition payment.

Five years for animal cruelty? I’m good with it.

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John le Carré and Jack Cole: authors read

After the mess of Mission Song, John le Carré returns to form with A MOST WANTED MAN. Issa, the title character, is a Chechen refugee and alleged terrorist who shows up in Germany with a vague hope of starting his life over. Because his corrupt Russian father has ties to British-born German banker Tommy Brue (Tommy’s father handled the guy’s money laundering), Issa’s refugee-rights lawyer Annabelle believes she can talk Tommy into helping Issa. All three of them become the subjects of British and German intelligence efforts, with an eye to using Issa as bait in a scheme to turn a prominent terrorist funder.

Part of what makes it work is that instead of the stock thriller plot that took over Absolute Friends, everything that’s going down seems perfectly plausible: people get deported or their lives ruined simply because they try to help out someone they couldn’t have known is a terrorist, or suspected as a terrorist. Is Issa guitly? It seems unlikely at first but the concluding scenes make it seem possible … maybe. That’s still enough to bring others to disaster. The book is well written and while it does use some stock le Carré tropes (Brue’s ne’er do well father, his failed marriage), they don’t bog the book down. The only real problem is the ending, which feels very ex machina (technically it’s set up earlier, but it still feels forced).

THE PLASTIC MAN ARCHIVES, Vol. 3, continues Jack Cole’s delightful Golden Age run on the stretchable superhero with the same mix of horror and comedy stories found in Vol. 2, all marked by Cole’s loonie visual style. The Gay Nineties Nightmare may be my favorite in this volume: hunting a wanted fugitive, Plas and Woozy discover he’s fled to a town that cut off contact with the rest of the United States after it was left out in the 1900 census. As a result, it’s still frozen in the 1890s (“Gay Nineties” nostalgia had a surge of popularity in the 1940s). Other stories involve body-swappers, bad girls, cities gone mad and other goofiness. A pleasure to reread this one.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jack Cole, all rights remain with current holder.

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