Monday, July 05, 2021

Reading Into the Past: Week of July 5, 2005

No new books this week, so I turn to the RNG. And the number is...2005!

Ivan Guevara and Atilio Gambedotti, Room Mates, Vol. 1 (6/30)

A European porn comic - I think the two creators are both Spanish - translated and lovingly published by NBM, in what turned out to be the end of the long wave of physically published comics porn. (Is it coming out in ebook form these days? Or is it mostly just individual creators with Patreons and on places like DeviantArt? I'm way out of the loop on comics porn these days.) I linked to the second volume, since the first one seems to be solidly unavailable, but all this stuff is basically the same. I believe the story was "several women are roommates, and they fuck." I mean, they fuck each other, they fuck other people - they fuck until the number of pages runs out and the book is over. That's the point of a book like this. As I recall, it was pretty hot for comics fucking, but I don't seem to have gone back for Vol. 2 or any other Guevara/Gambedotti joints, of which Amazon offers a plethora (mostly untranslated, as if that matters).

Stephen Baxter, Transcendent (bound galleys, read beginning & end, 7/1)

Third in the "Destiny's Children" trilogy.

I read a lot of Baxter back in those days, and his books tend to go in clumps: either specifically trilogies (the last decade or so has been like that, I think) or just three or four books in a row with similar style and concerns. I never found him a sparkling prose stylist, but he always got the job done, and his best books were exciting and visionary. (Anyone's worst books are not worth talking about.) As you can see, I did not read all of this one, and that was sixteen years ago. That's a reprint editor's dirty secret - and probably also the dirty secret of other people with similar jobs, like the people who do coverage for Hollywood - you don't need to read a whole book to understand it, know how to sell it, or get what you need out of it.

I have no memory or opinion whatsoever about this particular book.

Geoff Johns, et. al., Teen Titans: A Kid's Game (7/2)

I don't think I actually subscribed to the auteur theory of comics in those days, and, if I did, I definitely wouldn't have considered Geoff Johns an avatar of the type. But, from googling, I see the art credits for this are (deep breath) "by Mike McKone and Marlo Alquiza, additional art by Tom Grummett, Nelson DeCastro and Kevin Conrad, and a cover by Michael Turner." So I may have simplified for obvious reasons.

This was the first trade paperback collecting the then-new relaunch of the Titans, who were in one of the periodic phases of using Teen in their team name. I wasn't a TT fan back in the day: my brother was a big '80s X-Men fan, so I read his comics, and I guess I read more Marvels than DCs in that era to begin with, though not because of any particular decision. So I vaguely knew who the TT were - everybody's sidekicks, originally, and then everybody's grim and gritty sidekicks, and somewhat simultaneously a big '80s superhero soap opera. (I got my '80s superhero soap opera at the time from my brother's X-Men and slightly later from the Legion, so I'm not bad-mouthing the form.)

I can't tell you how this fits into anything, or even why I came to read it. It might have been sent to the SFBC as a possible submission, I suppose, though by 2005 I wasn't the official comics guy anymore. I can't imagine that I bought it, but maybe I did. Anyway, it is a slab of superhero stuff, and I read it, and until I started typing this here I had completely forgotten it ever existed.

Roger Zelazny, Changeling (7/3)

Oddly, I don't seem to have read Madwand later that year, unless I missed it poking through the reading notebook. I would think I'd read those two books together if at all, since they're pretty closely connected.

That was a two-book Zelazny series from the early '80s, originally published in trade paperbacks with moody Esteban Maroto art - which I think of as part of the essential package. At the time, a lot of us thought it would be Zelazny's next big series after Amber, but it turned out he wasn't going to do another big series after Amber, so the '80s saw a series of quirky, interesting books from Zelazny, then the mildly disappointing second Amber series, and then his much-too-early death.

Zelazny was one of those writers who are just smooth: every word leads into the next, his stories just flow, and it's easier to keep reading more and more of his words until you hit the end. (Of the book, of the series, of the Z shelf in the library.) It's the kind of writing skill that can be discounted, but it's not easy at all.

This series was a bit light and a bit obvious, with a lot of the usual Zelazny furniture: order vs. chaos, men who mirror each other, and so on. The big conflict was between the two guys switched at birth from two worlds: magic guy to tech world and vice versa - and, of course, they were each absolutely masters of the thing their birth world did, because that's how Zelazny books work. I liked it at the time, but I don't have a clear memory of it now. I should probably re-read some Zelazny.

Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld III :Darwin's Watch (7/5)

I liked the first Science of Discworld, was mostly amused by the second, but found this third one more tedious and thin. Since I was getting them directly from the UK (and paying appropriately for the privilege), I stopped after this one, and have never read the fourth book.

If you don't know what Discworld is, I can't give you that much background in a round-up post. But, assuming you do know Discworld, the Science books were one-half Pratchett novella, with a thin plot in which the wizards of the Unseen University discovered and explored something that turned out to be science-y, and one-half popular-science non-fiction by Stewart (math) and Cohen (biology) on topics related to whatever the wizards were doing.

This was the one about evolution. So I think there were the usual smirking oh-my-audience-is-still-assumed-to-be-ten-year-old-boys-named-Kevin references to sex from Pratchett, and somewhat more sober stuff from Stewart and Cohen. Whatever was in here, I thought it was OK but it did not entice me to come back for a fourth go-round. Take that as you will. 

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