THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHEEL by RS Belcher makes me wonder if Highway Fantasy is the coming thing, as this shares a lot of elements with Sparrow Hill Road: America’s r0ads as a supernatural domain, phantom hitchhikers, demonic pacts at crossroads. The premise is that the Knights Templar are still around helping out travelers in the guise of state troopers, truckers, bikers and such. Now a supernatural serial killer working out of a town that doesn’t exist plots to commit a brutal sacrifice that will raise his dark god to destroy the world; can this motley group of heroes stop him? This is well done but doesn’t grab me like Belcher’s Weird Westerns — the nuts and bolts of trucking and forensic evidence didn’t interest me at all (but that’s more a YMMV thing than a flaw in the book).
SEXUAL SCIENCE: The Victorian Construction of Womanhood by Cynthia Eagle Russett looks at how breakthroughs in physics, medicine, phrenology and biology gave 19th-century scientists a chance to establish exactly what it was that made women inherently inferior to men — was it brain size? That women were simply more average and less individuated than men? Too emotional? Lack of maturity (children don’t have beards, women don’t have beards, so obviously women are immature men)? The need to divert their finite body energy supply to reproduction (the discussion of how researchers applied the Second Law of Thermodynamics to human bodies makes me understand why draining energy through masturbation was seen as such a threat)? Why yes, it does appear they might have been basing their ideas on sexism rather than science, though many of them were happy to pull the Different Not Inferior card (many of them recoiled from the implication women’s lesser intellects might make them unfit to be mothers). Very good, if depressingly familiar.
SCARLET ROSE: I Knew I’d Meet You by Patricia Lyfoung is a pleasant enough graphic novel about a proper young miss who to her grandfather’s horror is more interested in following the path of Robin Hood-esque “the Fox” than attending balls and making a good match. This was too familiar a set-up for me, but it’s YA so I’m not the target audience.
HOW TO FAKE A MOON LANDING by Darryl Cunningham is a collection of comics explaining that no, the moon landing wasn’t faked; yes, vaccines save lives; yes, global warming is a thing; and so on. While I applaud the intentions, there’s nothing new to me in the material and visually Cunningham’s work is very dull. I gave up midway through.
Rereading the second volume of PAPER GIRLS (this time following Volume One) by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang, I found it holds up really well. Mac, Tiffany and Erin arrive in the present (their future) and discover what’s become of them, with Erin decidedly unimpressed with her future self (it reminded me of Disney’s The Kid — no dog, no husband, and a stupid job?). Who’s the other Erin showing up in a spacesuit? Why doesn’t adult Erin remember any of this adventure? Very enjoyable, with some great pop culture references (“Oh my god, you grew up to be Airwolf!”).
#SFWApro. Cover by Chiang, all rights to image remain with current holder.