Catch upFinished A FISTFUL OF RAIN by Greg Rucka, started on RED THUNDER by John Varley.
I was correct in that I had successfully guessed two of the bad guys in FISTFUL, but there was a third I didn't get until I was told. I guess that's a triumph for Rucka. But I like it when writers surprise me, so it's a triumph for me, too.
RED THUNDER is okay so far, but Varley meanders too much. He's a Heinlein school writer, but, well, like most Heinlein school writers, he can't quite get to the point as quickly as RAH would. One of RAH's real strengths was the ability to do exposition and character work at the exact same time as he moved his plots along. This broke down quite a lot in Heinlein's last decade of life, but in his prime, he could tell you who his protagonist was, describe the world and society they lived in, all in the same terse, mostly monosyllabic sentence in which he also described his protagonist kicking a bad guy out a window on the 122nd floor of the New Age Hotel. The best of his students -- John Varley, Joe Haldeman, S.M. Stirling, Lois McMaster Bujold -- haven't managed to get that down. Some come close; others don't even try all that hard. Varley isn't one who works at terseness with any great energy; he seems to really like stylistic sprawl. Not as much as Samuel R. Delaney, but, well, hardly anybody likes it as much as Samuel R. Delaney.
Despite my determination to hack down my year old in stack of SF/fantasy/whatever novels, I grabbed a stack of comics related stuff out of the library when we went last week. I'm currently more or less grinding my way through my old college buddy Scott McLeod's REINVENTING COMICS.
I own a copy of UNDERSTANDING COMICS (a gift from SuperFiancee) and remember enjoying it a lot, but Scott's being a great deal preachier in this one, as he lays out his vision for how he feels the comic book art form could best develop and evolve. Since he starts this out with his usual "superhero comics are for retards, and god, if only the retards would stop holding the wonderful brilliant art form of comic books back, we could all live perfect, perfect lives" riff, well, he pissed me off right from the start. His 12 point manifesto as regards every direction/dimension comic books should be expanding in, including, but not limited to, more participation from both women AND minorities, because, you know, it's the stupid dumb ass white guys (who like superhero comics) who have oppressed this fabulous medium since its inception, honestly isn't doing anything to assuage my irritation, either. Let me discourse for a moment:
We retarded primarily white male superhero comic book fans pretty much invented the art form. And when we invented the art form, adapting it from the then very popular adventure and/or humor comic strips in the newspapers, we experimented with a lot of different types of stories. Detective stories, romance stories, Westerns, space opera, military, funny animals, adventure in lush exotic foreign locales... we tried it all. Then a couple of retarded white male superhero fans named Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster took a fairly standard white male adventurer type character, put him in long underwear, and let him leap tall buildings with a single bound.
And a great many people liked that and bought it, so another retarded white male superhero fan named Bob Kane took a fairly standard white male detective hero and put him in a pointy eared cowl and people liked that a lot, too, and bought it in droves, and suddenly a whole bunch of retarded white males were creating a great many retarded white male superhero characters. And a great many more retarded white males of all age groups bought them. And we retarded white male superhero fans have been horribly and grievously oppressing and limiting the potential of the wonderful brilliant comic book art form ever since.
All right, enough of that. I also got... hrm... what did I also get? I can't remember. Well, a couple of the Alan Moore SWAMP THING collections, as I haven't read those stories in a very long time. And a lot of stuff I wouldn't normally waste money on if I saw it in a store, but I can't remember any of it right now. But it reminds me that last trip, a few weeks ago, I took out IDENTITY CRISIS and wound up liking it a great deal more than I expected to, so I'm buying Brad Metzler's new JUSTICE LEAGUE book now.
And I'm also about halfway through the SHOWCASE JUSTICE LEAGUE reprint edition. Goofy old stories, but a lot of fun.
Over at the Martian Vision site, as I alluded to in an earlier comment thread, I've picked up a couple of comments from a younger comics fan, who mostly seemed to want to point out factual errors in one of my longer articles. Despite disclaimers on the page itself, and at the top of the article, about how I write for fun, usually at work, where I don't have reference material available to me, and therefore, my articles are generally rife with factual errors, still, I get these people from time to time, who just seem to be unable to control their compulsion to send me a note advising me that B'wana Beast really never actually appeared in THRILLING JUNGLE STORIES, but actually had a seven issue run in its companion magazine, AMAZING TALES OF THE RAIN FOREST, instead.
Still, I always like to find out new things, and this fellow did point out to me that Brainiac 5 of the Legion of Superheroes is not, in fact, an android, and never has been one, and this so astounded me that I looked it up on the Internet, and found out it was true.
Now, at one time or another I have read virtually every member of the Legion of Superheroes, including Brainiac 5 himself, refer to Brainiac 5 as an android, and I clearly remember an issue of one of the rebooted post Crisis Legion series where he damned well WAS an android... but, no, apparently, the Silver Age Brainiac 5 was, in fact, the descendent of some guy who was the adopted son of Brainiac, the cybernetic/robotic/android Superman villain. And apparently, this green skinned humanoid guy who was adopted by Brainiac had some kind of brain surgery done to make him as smart as a computer, and those enhancements were passed along to his children, and that's where Brainiac 5 came from.
So, live and learn. And I appreciate the opportunity to improve my Silver Age superhero trivia database, too. And yet, I have to wonder what the hell is going on with all this android envy in the Legion of Superheroes. First Timber Wolf thinks he's an android, but he isn't, and now Brainiac 5 is running around telling people he's an android, but he's not. Very weird.
By the way, if you're a fan of the Silver Age Legion of Superheroes, this web site seems to have all the info you'll ever need. It does lack any data on the much too short lived Cary Bates/Dave Cockrum era of the Legion, which makes me sad, but still, there's a lot of great info here.
And we had a power failure yesterday after a heavy storm, and it lasted until around 9:30, and it was very annoying, and as always lately when things like this happen, it makes me wonder just how much longer our current technological infrastructure is going to last. And how I'm possibly going to survive when there is no electricity any more. (Our recent 40 days without a car had me wondering how I was going to survive when there was no gasoline any more, but the electricity thing is going to be even harder to live with... for me, if not for our society as a whole.)