Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"This guy.... This #¥<{!^£ guy...

Nominated for two Eisner awards this year Sex Criminals issues one through five get a collected edition April 15/16 just in time for Tax Day at the image first volume low price of $9.99. On to the review...

So "This guy... This ~^.&*!( guy" (yes I'm talking about Matt Fraction and I'm actually borrowing a quote from Matt's character Suzie from this very same book to describe him). This series is a great mixture of relationship tale, caper story, and comedic sexual innuendo and exploration. Sec Criminals is a book not safe for kids and may be embarrassing for adults reading ichoosing to read it in public given its somewhat explicit content but I will say it takes a fairly mature tact towards its subject matter. The artwork by Chip Zdarsky is downright georgeous, expressive and characterful and is well worth any embarrassment it may cause and manages to be fair to Bo sexes where it comes to being explicit. The title has more to say about sex and relationships then one may think and its well worth reading for people with a healthy ability to laugh at themselves and who have a fairly open mind in general.

Matt and Chip are telling several different stories within the comic and manage to do a good job of tackleing a couple per issue but with the collection that does not really stand out. There is the present day caper tale about the heroes Suzie and Jon using their orgasm given ability to freeze time to pull of bank robberies to save the imperiled library Suzie works at; then there are the tales about their first experiences with their a-hem lacking another way to put it well explorations and exploits with their seemingly unique talents. The first dealing with the combined good and back that comes with having someone as a part of your life and as a part of your life that seemed to be uniquely yours; the addition of their ability to stop time for everyone else when they climax serve to magnify the joys and difficulties that come when you have that someone special in your life. The lack of of better term origin stories for both Suzie and Jon reveal things about them how they approach finding out what the hell is going on with them and how they deal with the revelation that sex with others seems to still leave them alone when time stops for them. There is also the story following another group of characters who have the same sex derived power and their apparent attempts to police those who abuse it. All these tales leave me with the feeling there is some interesting things afoot in the world building here.

The really nice thing about reading this title and really anything ive read by by Matt is a his maintaining a "wink wink nudge nudge" sence of humor that is smile inducing and goes just far enough without breaking the tension in the story. In a book that could easily go for the quick gag or the obvious he takes things to a more interesting place then you'd expect. The same I would say for Chip's artwork which is just cartoonish enough to carry off the outlandish ideas in this without it being, well, ewww gross or off colour. Sex Criminals is nothing like anything I'm reading or have really read in comics but my taste runs more towards the more four colour titles so that may be the reason why. I do recall some titles that addressed sexuality in the past but I'm glad to say that this is nothing like the late eighties Black Kiss by Howard Chakyn that though fun for the time I could do without the shock value it had.

The stories in this form several complete story arcs and come to a satisfying climax (ok so I had to....) and conclusion. You get a real good idea about who both Suzie and Jon are good I'll and embarrassing; a pretty delightfully Coen brothers like caper gone pear shaped and the introduction to some characterful and sort of mysterious figures for stories going into the next volume. As I said Chip's art fits the tone well with its thick lined slightly cartoonish character designs and the colours by Becka Kinzie and Christopher Sebela do make his art pop off the page. Sex Criminals also explores the subject of sex with a kind of gentle humor that western particularly American stories usually don't have in them. I mean honestly yes its embarrassing to talk about and ask questions about and the truth and honesty Matt takes towards the outlandish things he introduces into the equation makes the story that much better. The book is clever and fun but most of all beyond the sillyness, crazyness, and even beyond the musical scene that takes over the middle issue that had me in stitches there is a lot of truth in the story he's telling. This book is a success but I've come to expect no less. Well worth it all told....




Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wanted Dispatch (first two weeks of April) plus April 12 edition


The Goblin Emperor by Katheine Addison

Since I read a good number of author blogs I read plenty abut this novel well before it came out and was really looking forward to it. Katherine Addison is a pseudo name for a writer I've been wanting to read for a while but I'll leave her real identity secret if not much of one. Writer Jim C Hines who seems to have reading tastes a lot like mine and Elizabeth Bear who's fiction I simply can't resist both have great things to say about this to name just a few so I'll leave you with a bit of synopsis and a link to the excerpt from tor.com.

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment. Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody.


The Revolutions by Felix Gilman

Among the steampunk and western punk writers I have yet to get the time to read Felix is just about at the top. This novel promises to be a mix of elements I really enjoy Victorian setting science fiction and pulp era genre conventions. This may not exactly be your cup of tea but I think it is tea time in this here readers day. Here is the synopsis that tor.com posted a while back along with the article about the cover design.

In 1893 a storm sweeps through London, while Arthur Shaw—a young astronomer with a side career writing fiction—is at work in British Museum Reading Room. The storm wreaks unprecedented damage throughout London. Its aftermath of the storm Arthur’s prime literary market closes, owing him money, and all his debts come due at once. His fiance Jo takes a job as a stenographer for some of the fashionable spiritualist and occult societies of fin de siècle London society. Meanwhile, Arthur deciphers an encoded newspaper ad seeking able young men. It seems to be a clerking job doing accounting work, but the mysterious head man Mr. Gacewell offers Arthur a starting position at a salary many times what any clerk could expect. The work is long and peculiar, and the men spend all day performing unnerving calculations that make them hallucinate or even go mad...but the salary is compelling.

Things are beginning to look up when the wages of dabbling in the esoteric suddenly come due: a war breaks out between competing magical societies, and Arthur interrupts Jo in the middle of an elaborate occult exploration. This rash move turns out to be dire, as Jo’s consciousness is stranded at the outer limits of the occultists’ psychic day trip. Which, Arthur is chagrinned…

Operation Shield by Joel Shepherd

In this fifth book Joel returns to his part military SF part cyberpunk part part space opera creation that started years ago with the novel Crossover. Like Revolutions above when authors mix genre conventions into a new beast it often adds up to be something I particularly enjoy. Joel's earlier books read a bit like thrillers to me and though I don't read them much I think he does them pretty handily. Here is the synopsis from one of my favorite publishers Pyr...

In 23 Years on Fire, Cassandra discovered that the technology that created her has been misused in her former home and now threatens all humanity with catastrophe. Returning home to Callay, she finds that Federation member worlds, exhausted by the previous thirty-year-war against the League, are unwilling to risk the confrontation that a solution may require. Some of these forces will go to any lengths to avoid a new conflict, including taking a sledgehammer to the Federation Constitution and threatening the removal by force of Cassandra's own branch of the Federal Security Agency.

More frighteningly for Sandy, she has brought back to Callay three young children, whom she met on the mean streets of Droze, discovering maternal feelings she had not known she possessed. Can she reconcile her duty as a soldier, including what she must do as a tactician, with the dangers that those decisions will place upon her family-the one thing that has come to mean more to her than any cause she now believes in?


Steles in the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

And speaking of Elizabeth Bear here is the last volume of her Silk Road fantasy series that has been heaped with praise from so many quarters. I didn't plan it this way but it seems that this will be one of the fantasy series that I will be able to read in its entirety once this is out. I know Elizabeth for her first series of science fiction novels but have every expectation that these will be equally as entertaining given her imagination and creativity. Tor.com has an excerpt here and for your reading pleasure a bit of synopsis action as always...

Re Temur, legitimate heir to his grandfather’s Khaganate, has finally raised his banner and declared himself at war with his usurping uncle. With his companions—the Wizard Samarkar, the Cho-tse Hrahima, and the silent monk Brother Hsiung—he must make his way to Dragon Lake to gather in his army of followers.

But Temur’s enemies are not idle; the leader of the Nameless Assassins, who has shattered the peace of the Steppe, has struck at Temur’s uncle already. To the south, in the Rasan empire, plague rages. To the east, the great city of Asmaracanda has burned, and the Uthman Caliph is deposed. All the world seems to be on fire, and who knows if even the beloved son of the Eternal Sky can save it?

Hollow World by Michael J Sullivan

Known for the epic/sword and sorcery Riyria Revelation series that he self published as ebooks and was more recently picked up for publication by Orbit Books is expanding out from his beginnings with Hollow World. A time travel novel that Michael says he never intended to write certainly is a draw for me, one of my favorite novels from last year The Shining Girls was an unconventional sci fi time travel yearn and I'm up for more explorations of this oft mishandled trope. Here is a link to Michael's website for the novel coming from Tachyon books and a short synopsis hook.

Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing, but faced with a terminal illness he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. Ellis could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World.