Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Siege Review (Unread 021)

I liked to read Star Trek novels during weeks where I watch some of the TV episodes. Having the episodes fresh in my mind, I can very easily visualize the novels in ways that make me feel like I’m watching unaired episodes. I tend to enjoy my series (be it novels, comics, or television) in spurts. I’ll be hooked on Star Trek like a man who’s never seen an episode. I’ll watch it daily for a few weeks until stopping completely for a few months before starting again. During those weeks where I feel like a new fan, I liked to enjoy my Star Trek in bed before I go sleep, on the road to work, during my lunch break. Really, anywhere and anytime I have a moment to read a few pages. It’s a great way to feed an addiction.

Recently I’ve been watching Deep Space Nine and between episodes I’ve been reading the only DS9 novel written by my favourite Star Trek author, Peter David. Titled The Siege, it’s the first original DS9 paperback novel (the first was a novelization of the series premiere). According to Memory Beta Peter David only had the series bible and the script to the first five episodes at his disposal on which to base his novel. Because of these limitations, the novel suffers from odd or inconsistent character traits. Some of the characters are more rigidly defined than they often appeared to be in the first season. Odo’s character is a good example, as he’s hooked on the idea of justice to the point where he willingly endangers himself. Dr. Bashir is another good example but before I get into that, here’s quick summary of the novel’s plot.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Long Walk by Stephen King Review (Unread 020)

I continue to be rather amazed by Stephen King. At the same time, I continue to be rather ashamed of my ignorant and juvenile dismissal of the man and his impressive body of work in my youth. Impressive, I’m discovering one book at a time, not only in number of books he’s written but also in the quality of those books. The Long Walk, arguably the earliest book by King, written when he was still attending the University of Main in the mid-sixties, is a short book when compared to a lot of his other novels. It’s also very simple, very direct, but this little book packs a mean punch and I took the beating willingly.

Originally released as The Long Walk by Richard Bachman, a pseudonym of King’s, this novel surprisingly doesn’t represent an unpolished or unskilled attempt at crafting a story. It’s actually surprisingly engrossing and masterful in its focus and execution. I wasn’t sure this book would be any good at all considering just how simple the plot is and considering there is but a single point of view to sustain the reader from cover to cover. It’s putting it mildly to say that the book surprised me.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walter Simonson volume 3 review (Unread 019)

I’m a fan of Marvel’s Visionaries series. It can still be hard to find old comics in affordable trades (though it’s easier now than it’s ever been) and the entire reason for being of the Visionaries line is to provide readers with a chance to discover classic runs by popular creators. While they tend to focus more on collecting runs by one particular writer, artists aren’t left completely in the dark as there are a small handful of volumes that are popular because of the artists. It’s sad to see that so many of these volumes are currently out of print but they can still be purchased easily enough at conventions or online. Regular readers will know that the latest Visionaries title I’ve been reading has been Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walter Simonson volumes 1-3. It’s taken me a long time (9 months!) to read them, even though I’ve enjoyed every volume. That’s because my general reaction has been one of passive enjoyment. They’re good issues, certainly, and I like Simonson as s writer and as an artist, but there hasn’t really been anything to make me give the run overwhelming praise.

This volume is split into two stories. The first is the best and one of the better stories of the entire run. Issues #347-349 are written by Simonson with pencils by Arthur Adams, penciling assists (issues #348 and 349) by Gracine Tanaka, inks by Art Thibert and Al Milgrom, lettering by Bill Oakley, colouring by Steve Buccellato, and edited by Ralph Macchio.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon Review (Unread 018)

As a reader, I like a challenge. A lot of the stuff I typically read would be, and unfortunately often is, considered trash by a certain other type of reader. Snobbish readers, the worst kind of readers ever! I love fantasy novels, comics, science fiction, crime fiction, and other genre works. I have no real interest in what people call “literary” fiction. I don’t recall who said it, but I once read that what is often categorized as “literary fiction” is basically just drama. Now, there is nothing wrong with drama, but why not have some fantastic elements with your drama? Still, every once in a while I feel self-conscious about my reading choices and I can’t help but ask myself “why am I ready this trashy shit?!” The obvious answer is that I love it and I love it because it stimulates me in ways that the books I read as part of my high school curriculum did not. I like novels with a lot of ideas, regardless of how wild and impossible they may seem, and I love it when those books take what at first can look like an outlandish idea and turn it into something profound, into something that focuses on a facet of human existence. Much to my dismay, sometimes the genre literature I prefer gives me big ideas without taking the time to develop them properly. It’s at this point that I start looking for books and authors with more ambition.

This leads us to Thomas Pynchon. I’m not sure why but I only discovered him recently. After finding out that one of my favourite directors, Paul Thomas Anderson, would be developing an adaptation of a novel by Pynchon, I started to read about the elusive author. He is an extremely fascinating person and his bibliography is one of the most interesting ones I’ve ever encountered even though I’ve read none of his books prior to this one. Something about Pynchon, something that remains just out of reach, absolutely captivated me. It also scared me a little. Here is a man who has such an imposing reputation that despite my rapidly growing desire to read one of his books I shied away until just three months ago.