Monday, August 17, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 8/14

Most weeks, I get books in the mail and write about them here. But, occasionally, the Mail Gods are fickle, and nothing arrives during a particular week.

This is one of those weeks.

Instead, I'll mention a couple of books I've read recently [1] and enjoyed, mostly out of guilt for my current low-contend mode. (What I'm mostly reading right now is even more guilt-inducing: the Prima guide to Fallout 3, a 2008 post-apocalyptic computer RPG I've been playing obsessively for about three weeks now.)

Over Easy is a somewhat fictionalized memoir in comics form of a pivotal time in the life of young cartoonist Mimi Pond. She was finishing up her art-school days and looking to enter the "real world," when she got a job as a waitress at a local cafe. It's a great time capsule, both of a particular time in a person's life and of the late '70s, and Pond's expressive, decorative line makes every page lovely. She also avoids the temptation to wrap everything neatly up in a bow or turn it into something of huge importance: this is her life, or at least a part of it, and it's far enough in the past that she can see it clearly and present it as something closer to fiction.

And The World of Ice & Fire is more-or-less The Silmarillion for George R.R. Martin's massive and as-yet-unfinished "Song of Ice and Fire" novel series, written by Martin with Elio M. Garcia, Jr. and Linda Antonsson (who run one of the top GRRM-fan, SoI&F-lore websites). Unlike Silmarillion, World focuses mostly on people and history: it's organized as a history of Westeros from the dawn of time, with a gazetteer of the rest of the world (at about the same length) bolted on to the back. It's almost entirely about things that we haven't seen and probably never will see in the main SoI&F series, and it makes me hope GRRM can finish up that series quickly and start writing novellas about roguish adventurers traveling to the quirkier corners of this world, a la Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (or Darger & Surplus, or Cugel the Clever, or even Conan -- I won't quibble about the kind of adventures). I just really want to see a story about Sothyros.

(I will quibble a bit about the maps, though -- I know there's a separate map book, but this one screams out for maps of Essos, the various small islands, and Sothyros. Even something deliberately archaic with "here there be dragons" would be useful for orientation. It does have decent maps of all of the sections of Westeros, though the one for the Crownlands is hidden in the backmatter.)

[1] And still intend to "review" in some at least slightly longer form, eventually.

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