Nov. 17th, 2008

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Just a quick note: an ever-increasing number of posts in my journal are friends-only or on a filter. That's because the world is full of crazy people. If you want to be on my flist, please contact me or comment on an open post.
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Steamboy Ani-Manga: 1 (Steam Boy Ani-Manga) Steamboy Ani-Manga: 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've been complaining that a lot of graphic novels are confusing. Usually, that's because they're badly written and poorly illustrated; that is, the drawing themselves are pretty eye candy, but they don't always make a lot of sense.

But what made Steamboy confusing was that it's backwards. It starts with page 181-something, and ends with page 1. The cover is on the back. And you read it back-to-front, right-to-left from panel to panel. The words themselves are read left-to-right, but even within conjoined word ballons phrases are read right-to-left.

That's freaky. It took a while to get used to. And there were times throughout the book that I found myself getting a little confused about which panel came first on a page.

I'll admit that the thought also crossed my mind that this back-to-front reading might mess up my mind somehow. :D

There's a weird system of sound effects ("FX") too, but I am not going to spend all my time flipping from the last (i.e. first) page and back to translate the weird symbols that represent sound effects. Life's too short for that sort of crap.

That said, it's not at all a bad book. The illustrations are nicely done with a sort of old-fashioned steampunk feel (which you'd expect in a book titled Steamboy, of course). The writing is rather sparse but reasonably well-done. Given the size of the book (over 180 extremely thick pages), I was surprised at how relatively little plot there was in it. This is the first installment of a series, but even so it seemed very...well, in 180+ pages I'd expect more to be accomplished.

Will I read the other books in the series? Maybe. They're available free in the library, after all. But I'm not particularly looking forward to it. All in all this was a clever-ish idea, and it has been decently executed, but so far my socks have definitely not been knocked off.

The upcoming movie may work better than the graphic novel(s), I suspect. Unless they filmed that backwards, too.

View all my reviews.
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Store of Infinity Store of Infinity by Robert Sheckley

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was one of the first science fiction books I ever bought for myself. I was in my mid-teens, living in Westport, CT. The store was called "The Bookworm", I think, and it was run by an aging hippie. The shop was small and dark, with a largish brass bowl filled with sand and sticks of burning incense on the counter; it was a magical sort of place.

And so it was only appropriate that I lucked into buying a rather magical sort of book. Store of Infinity is one of those all too rare, gem-like books of remarkably clever short science fiction stories; stories that stick in your mind, tickling your funny bone and stimulating your imagination. Sheckley has produced an astonishing number of such stories over his career (he's far better in that form than in novels), and these stories were written at the very height of his talent. I'm reminded of O. Henry, and even more so of Fredric Brown. Ron Goulart has also written many books which are similar to Sheckley's short story style, although Goulart in general tends to be a bit more surreal and quirky than Sheckley in his best period.

Credit must be given to Sheckley for great prescience; his story "The Prize of Peril" (one of the longer stories in the book) is a brilliant prediction of the current reality-TV fad, and a logical projection of where that trend might go in the future. What makes that story particularly amazing is that it was written in the late 1950s. And while being a stunning piece of sociological prediction, it also manages to be gripping, extremely exciting, funny, and a biting satire.

The story seems to have been ripped off wholesale by Steven King for his novel and movie The Running Man, but it's so much better than either of those that it shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath.

And yet that's only one of the incredibly memorable stories in this book. If you like clever, witty, imaginative short stories than this is definitely a book you don't want to miss.

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