sabotabby: tulip pointing a gun (preacher)
On a more trivial note (yes, yes, the world is ending, and I'm blogging about telly), I really enjoyed hate-watching Defenders. Which is to say that it was nearly all shit except for the scene where Luke Cage teaches Iron Fist about white privilege. I mean, I can't believe I wasted like 8 hours of my life but in the same way, it made me feel like a better writer because I didn't write it.

spoilers )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
There’s this glurgy poem about the Earth being a few feet in diameter. It’s an incredibly cheesy poem (and will you check out the cheesy website I found when I went searching for it to write this post), but I’m kind of partial to it for what it reveals about human psychology. It ends as follows:

“People would love it, and defend it with their lives because they would somehow know that their lives could be nothing without it.

If the Earth were only a few feet in diameter.”

This gap, between real things and representations of things, is at the heart of something I’ve been struggling to get my head around in recent months. The passion I see for stories, be they movies, games, or—gasp—sometimes novels, is something that I share, and yet it boggles me that as much as they affect culture in a broad sense, they seem to often have little impact on the individuals most devoted to them.
long and with pictures )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Mistgeburt)
I've seen a number of images and video on the theme of last night's election, but there's only one image—though it has failed to gain the traction that shirtless!Trudeau has managed—that can adequately sum up how I feel about the results.

Transmetropolitan_13_p21

That's from the cyberpunk masterpiece Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis, and if you haven't read it, what are you doing reading my blog? This comic is so much better, and astonishingly prescient. In my favourite arc, the current President, known only as The Beast (even to his children) is challenged by a telegenic, liberal-seeming politician nicknamed The Smiler. At first, Spider Jerusalem, our cynical journalist hero who is in no way Hunter S. Thompson, grudgingly admires him—insofar as he can admire any politician—until he discovers that while The Beast, who is in no way Richard Nixon, is an authoritarian monster, the Smiler, who is in no way Tony Blair, is hiding something much worse.

I don't need to tell you what happens next. You've read a dystopian book or two.

I swear, if I see one more "congratulations Canada!" post, I am going to fucking hurl. It's bad from Americans, as you guys don't really understand our political system or major parties, but it's worse from Canadians, who don't understand our political system or major parties. While I'm as happy as anyone to not have to use this icon anymore—

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 4.20.05 PM
(You get to see it one more time though. Sorry.)

—there is no cause for celebration. And here's why.

Justin Trudeau is indistinguishable from Harper on most things that count, except scarier because no one seems to understand this.

I would ask all Canadians who "voted strategically"* or caught themselves saying "anyone but Harper" to ask themselves why they hate Harper.

Is it because his economic policies favour the rich at the expense of the poor? From a friend's post (since I'm too exhausted to dig up more authoritative sources, but trust me, this is the Liberal fiscal plan):


1) A tax increase on the rich 1%, in order to give the upper 50% a tax cut. People making over 100k, but less than 200k will be looking at a tax cut amounting to $600. Those who make 50k a year will get $80 dollars, those below $45k get nothing.
2) GST cuts for land developers who build "for profit" rental housing -- make a profit, get a tax cut plan. Mike Harris tried, and failed to promote affordable housing using "tax incentives", and the Liberal plan will also fail.
3) Cuts to EI payroll tax, further reducing available funds available for unemployed workers. In the 70s, 70% of the unemployed were serviced through EI (UIC), today only 30%. The Liberal plan continues this trajectory.
4) Expansion of the "baby-bonus" system instituted in 2006 by Harper in place of a daycare plan. Extremely wasteful use of government money.



Okay, math is hard. How about the environment? Trudeau's not quite so bad there, but he supports the Keystone XL pipeline and I'll bet you anything he flips on the other two.

Do you like jobs? Freedom of speech and privacy on the intertubes? Transparency when it comes to trade deals with other countries? Well, Harper negotiated that stuff away in secret with the TPP, but fortunately there's Wikileaks and come on people, if it were a good deal for Canada, they'd have told us what was in it. Instead, the Conservatives held out spilling details before the election, so everyone who doesn't keep up with trade deal acronyms was left in the dark as to how hard we'd get reamed.**

Trudeau doesn't know what's in it. But he's for it.

Most important to me personally, though, is the Harper government's attacks on our civil liberties. That would be Bill C-24, which takes the unprecedented step of allowing the government to strip the citizenship of any Canadian who is eligible for dual citizenship. This includes me, if you were wondering. If someone decides I'm a terrorist (more on that in a sec), I can be deported to Israel. Imagine. The Liberals supported the bill.

Even worse is Bill C-51, which is a mass surveillance, thought crime, and arbitrary arrest bill, loosely defining terrorism as "whatever we don't like," the sort of thing that they used to write dystopian literature about before dystopian literature became a manual for policy writing. The Liberals voted for that one, too. Except Trudeau; he didn't think the skullfucking of our most basic human rights was worth showing up to vote on.

Now, the one nice thing I can say about Liberals is that I appreciate their ideology. They have none. They crave power, and only power; their sole political aim is to get elected and stay there. This is kind of cool because it means that they're by and large not bigots. One voter-unit is the same as the next, and they don't care what your gender or sexual orientation or ethnicity is. So things, in the short-term, might suck slightly less for the Muslims who are getting assaulted on our streets by Harper brownshirts.

Oh, but shit, yo, Trudeau also voted for Bill S-7, the—I'm not fucking making this up—"Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act," which makes things that were already illegal more illegal if you do them while brown. So while I don't think the Liberals are racist for ideological reasons the way the Tories are, they'll be racist if it'll make them popular. And as the whole niqab debacle and the aforementioned brownshirts illustrate, Canadians are pretty fucking racist.

So tell me why I should be happy today. Other than that my inevitable "Prince Justin is a Twat" icon is going to be nicer to look at than my Harper "Fuck the People" icon. Seriously.

The other bad news is that the Liberals' gains come mostly at the expense, not of the Tories, but of the NDP, who while far from being proper socialists, at least voted against all of the shitty things I just mentioned. We lost a bunch of really great MPs to strategic voting. Just to give one example, Dan Harris in Scarborough Southwest, a hardworking progressive who is just a wonderful guy, lost to Bill Blair, former Chief Pig, who supports carding despite the fact that it's racist and doesn't work, and who presided over the vicious police state that Toronto became during the G20. Or awesome Olivia Chow losing to career sleazebag Adam Vaughan. Or punk-rock-as-fuck Andrew Cash losing to "who the fuck is she?" Julie Dzerowicz. (Seriously, what does "held senior leadership roles in the private and public sector" mean?) Or, in the campaign I worked on, Matthew Kellway, who lost to some guy who no one knows anything about except that the name "Trudeau" was on his sign. (Note to my countrymen—we vote for MPs, not the fucking president; learn what your MP stands for and don't just vote based on the party leader.)

Now, I don't even say this as an NDP ideologue, because I'm not one. I only joined the NDP very briefly, to try to keep Mulcair from winning the leadership after Layton's death, and left when they took the word "socialism" out of the party platform. I volunteered with Kellway's campaign out of outrage over Bill C-51 and support for the only political party that had convictions and a commitment to democracy. I'm glad I did, exhausting and depressing as it was. I'm hoping that this defeat leads to a reexamination of the NDP's Blairite direction, perhaps even an exodus of the rightward elements like we've seen in the UK. One hopes the correct lessons have been learned.

In any event, I was despairing last night, as Canada swapped a kitten-eating robot for a born-to-rule pretty boy with more or less the same political leanings but better hair, and backslapped and rejoiced and called it "change." I felt a little less despairing when I woke up and remembered:

1) This is basically the political configuration of my youth, with a Liberal majority, a Tory opposition, and the NDP snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. (The Orange Crush in the last election was an aberration based on Quebec's weirdness and Layton's charisma; the NDP should never have expected to build on Quebec as a base.)

2) Electoral politics has never been the main thing that I do; among other reasons, I'm far to the left of anyone electable.

3) As someone who writes a lot of dystopian fiction, I would be at a loss for inspiration if I ever actually liked the government in power.

4) Having canvassed once or twice a week, every week, for almost three months, my ass is looking really fine.

Sadly, though, Canadian media has no one like Spider Jerusalem to expose the truth, and those of us who value silly little things like freedom and democracy are left to muddle through as best we can. I hope we can rebuild from this, but it's easier to take rights away than it is to gain them, and there's more work to do with a populace that thinks it's free than one that knows it isn't. We must be at once—and I hope the NDP understands this, because historically it hasn't—both principled and ruthless.

Good riddance, Beast, and welcome Smiler, and the rest of you can hold your fucking congratulations until you see what he has in store.

* Note, remember next time that anyone who tells you to "vote strategically" is telling you to support the Liberals. The NDP were winning at the outset.

** I'd say they deserved it for not educating themselves, but I have to live with the results of their ignorance.


ETA: The Beaverton, as usual, has the best coverage: Nation groggily wakes up next to Justin Trudeau:


“Really, the C-51 guy? The guy who’s friends with Bill Blair?” said New Zealand, over Snapchat. “Tell me he at least doesn’t have a douchey native-inspired tattoo.”
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fighting the man)

I'm against hate speech.

I'm against murdering people for making cartoons.

I'm against attacking people in retaliation for murders that they had nothing to do with.

I'm against the climate of xenophobia in France, which is, among other things, fallout from France's colonialist history.

I'm also side-eyeing the fact that there was nowhere near this level of international outcry or media coverage of the murders of 145 Pakistani children massacred and suspect it was because they weren't white Westerners.

(For context, this is a useful thing to read. Not substantially different than Nazi anti-Semitic cartoons of the 1930s. But they shouldn't have been killed over it, obviously.)

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (watchmen orly)
So it sounds like two of my favourite comics are possibly getting TV shows.

The Red Star is a gorgeous, practically plotless steampunk fantasy allegory of the Russian Revolution with a genderswapped Trotsky (yes, really), gigantic armoured Stalin, and a plethora of badass ladies. It makes zero sense and is completely beautiful, and I have no idea how they would ever make it into a show. Also, does anyone actually read it? Then again, they made it into a video game, which is apparently good, and for some reason a clothing line. I'm deeply confused as to how you could adapt it for TV—the best idea would be to keep the worldbuilding, aesthetic, and characters, and come up with a completely new plot—but I want it anyway.

More realistic is talk of adapting DMZ, which is set in Manhattan during a near-future American civil war, and is pretty episodic to begin with. This sounds like it could actually happen.

Squee!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (sleep of reason/goya/wouldprefernot2)
Is it already that time? By which I mean time for another Sandman movie rumour? This one actually sounds kind of official-ish.

I know that anyone but Terry Gilliam or possibly Guillermo del Toro is likely to screw this up, but somehow I can't bring myself to be bothered at the moment. Because Sandman movie!

Incidentally, I agree with the first comment—if they're going to do it as a movie and not as a miniseries, they should start with Seasons of Mist and not Preludes & Nocturnes.

It's been done elsewhere, but let's cast this thing. My choices:

Dream: Build a time machine and procure a young Robert Smith. I'm having a hard time picturing Joseph Gordon Levitt in the role, anyway. Cillian Murphy, maybe?

Death: Ksenia Solo, unless we can use the time machine to also retrieve a young Siouxsie Sioux.

Desire: Obviously Tilda Swinton. Or David Bowie. Or ideally and most accurately, alternating between Tilda Swinton dressed as David Bowie and David Bowie dressed as Tilda Swinton.

Destiny: I had a bunch of people in mind and then someone on one of the comment threads said Idris Elba, and yes. Definitely Idris Elba.

Delirium: I just finished watching Utopia, so Fiona O'Shaughnessy. Even more than the obvious choice of Tori Amos.

Despair: Someone mentioned Kathy Bates; she could work.

Destruction: I got nothing. Ideas?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Jenny Sparks)
Capital is dead labor,that vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks. — Marx

Did you know about Buffy the Anarcho-Syndicalist Vampire Slayer?

No? Okay. You're welcome.

 photo Screenshot2013-06-01at30033PM_zps23df12db.png
sabotabby: (jetpack)
Oh you guys, you guys. I am so enjoying the explosion of pure nerd rage that has accompanied Chris Sprouse's decision to quit Adventures of Superman over the Orson Scott Card controversy. (You can read some of the butthurt* in the comments there and also in the BoingBoing post about it.

Now, Sprouse's actions, if you read his statement, are not particularly heroic—he's not quitting because OSC is a terrible human being with terrible views; he's quitting because of the "controversy" surrounding OSC's hiring. Hell, even if he quit over OSC's terrible views, it's hardly praiseworthy to not want to work for an actual bigot who plans to overthrow the government if gays get too many human rights. That's kind of called "baseline human decency." But in the white, male, straight-dominated world of mainstream comics, I'll take what I can get, and Sprouse has done right by deed, if not by word, making him far better of a person than the bigwigs at DC.

But to hear the nerds tell it, Sprouse, and the folks calling for a boycott of OSC's Superman run and/or the new Ender's Game movie are one step away from throwing all of the conservatives in gulags and forcing their political opponents to choose between death and mandatory butt sex. I keep seeing neckbeards screeching about freedom of speech, and how OSC's has somehow been denied.

Nerdy liberals are not helping much by pointing out that the problem is not that OSC has reprehensible beliefs, but that he sits on the board for the National Organization for Marriage and every penny you give him ends up benefiting an organization that has, as its sole raison d'être, the denial of civil liberties to gay people. I think this is because no one's read his recent books. One of my friends, who is approximately as nerdy as I am, didn't even know about his politics. I've read—well, parts of his recent books; to be honest, they're pretty unreadable—and the dude has an agenda that he can't keep out of his writing and that should be kept well away from Superman's spandex-clad buttocks, trust me. (He can't write a riff off Hamlet without working in ass-fucking.) So the issue is not just economic; it also has to do with OSC as a person and an artist. You shouldn't give him your money because he's awful.

The most hilarious bit is when the neckbeards compare the boycott campaign to McCarthyism (because OSC probably would argue that communists and fellow travellers ought to be shot in the face), suggesting that we, the nerd community, have an obligation to buy his media so that he can earn a living in the style to which he has become accustomed. Freedom, apparently, means an compulsory copy of Ender's Game and its sequels in every household. (Hey neckbeards who take this line: I'm a geek too! You are hereby obligated to help me maintain my paid LJ account; otherwise you're censoring me.)

Which—no. In a capitalist system, you are not guaranteed the right to earn a living in the profession of your choosing, even if you wrote a book a gazillion years ago that people liked a a lot. If you think this is unfair, let's talk! But unless you're proposing something revolutionary, OSC has no inherent right to not have his career destroyed over his repellent worldview.

Nor is he being "censored." OSC has every right to peddle his hateful shit on a soapbox, literally or metaphorically, without the government stepping in to jail him on charges of Aggravated Asshaberdashery. He's got a right to put his poisonous ideas down on paper without every copy of said paper getting burned or pulped. He even has the right to try and sell his raving bollocks to any publisher who will have him—but said publishers are just as free to say, "No, we do not believe your raving bollocks will sell," and we, as media consumers, are also free to say, "No, we will not buy your raving bollocks because we don't want our money going to NOM, and also because your writing sucks now." This is not censorship.

Let's briefly touch on the other argument I'm seeing a lot of, which is that an artist is separate from his political beliefs. As previously mentioned, OSC is not—both financially and in his inability to keep attacks on queers and leftists** out of his books. But let's just say he was not on the board of NOM and he was only writing books about little boys being unaware that they were committing genocide. I would still argue that his political beliefs are relevant. Look, I like all kinds of problematic art—my two favourite musical genres being opera and neo-folk—but the distinction between a geek-as-active-participant-in-media and a passive consumer at least ought to be, to some degree, critical engagement with said art. I can love Wagner, or T.S. Eliot, or Frank Miller†, or James Bond movies, or Chronicles of Narnia, despite the anti-Semitism, or Islamophobia, or misogyny, or blatant support for British imperialism inherent in the authors and/or work while still criticizing the politics they represent. If you feel a need to mindlessly defend an artist because you like their work, you are officially too dumb to play in geekdom.

Finally, to address the last defence I'm seeing, which is that anything he wrote is actually good. I'm going to piss a bunch of people off and say that, unless you're a bullied adolescent, Ender's Game is actually a bit crap, and if you're over the age of 16, you ought to see OSC for the naked emperor that he is. He's kind of a crap writer. Even if he was the greatest guy, I still wouldn't buy his books or comics because they're not that good. That's not a boycott or anything—it's just taste. If Ender's Game came out now you'd probably roll your eyes. Admit it.

I actually kind of feel sorry for OSC as a person, because I think his bigotry goes beyond simple bigotry well into the realm of mental illness. But that doesn't mean that anyone ought to indulge his delusions. He's got issues, but unfortunately those issues resonate with many theoretically sane, fascist-minded people hell-bent on oppressing anyone who's not like them, and he's got money and more of a platform to be heard than most spluttering lunatics do. For this reason, you should actually torrent Ender's Game rather than pay money to see it, if you feel the need to torture yourself by watching it, and you should totally boycott his run on Superman if it goes ahead. There are enough bigots in the world without you funding their bigotry.

* Probably a bad choice of words.

** See Empire. Or don't. It's awful; I got about 50 pages in before deciding it was too bad to even parody.

† Well, before he went to actual shit.
sabotabby: (jetpack)
We're not going to have Rob Liefeld to kick around anymore.

Photobucket

The comics world mourns the loss of baroque anatomy, porn traces, floating or otherwise invisible feet, and seriously, what was in all those pouches?

I can't help but imagine various DC heroines untwisting their spines and sighing in relief as their internal organs re-settle into their proper places and their tiny little feet are finally able to touch the ground.

Also, who tweets during a movie? That's just rude.

(Via [livejournal.com profile] fengi.)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (watchmen orly)
So [livejournal.com profile] bcholmes and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises.

Paul Johansson, take note: This is how you make a really good movie with really reprehensible politics.

spoilers! )

ETA: Two more interesting reviews.

The Dark Knight Rises: Class War in the Dystopian Present:

Our first thought on leaving the theatre- what kind of society could produce a big-budget movie with such a completely hopeless message about the future of humanity and the inability of ‘the people’ to govern themselves?


'The Dark Knight' is No Capitalist:

So this is a class struggle all right, but it’s not between Bane’s pseudo-proles and Gotham’s elite with their cop army. That’s a sideshow. The struggle is within the ruling class itself, between the capitalist Daggett and the aristocratic Wayne. Wayne is far more feudalism than finance: heir to a manor complete with fawning manservant, unconcerned with business or money-making, bound by duty and honor even if it makes him a recluse.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (zizek)
Zizek on the Avengers, Occupy, and oh really, do you need an excuse to listen to Zizek rant about things? It's Zizek being himself. Also, he's not dating Lady Gaga. If you were wondering.

I accidentally a whole anti-protest guide to anarchists. Is this bad?

In his court motion warning that Karn is an “anarchist,” Richmond’s Deputy Assistant Attorney Brian Telfair doesn’t allege the possibility of any violence or property destruction. Instead, he cites a blog post by Karn about acquiring government information through legal requests. The title? “FOIA Rocks!”
sabotabby: (jetpack)
Wait, J. Michael Straczynski is writing some of the Watchmen prequels? What? Okay, nerd pride be damned, I am going to read the shit out of those.

exciting! )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (watchmen orly)
If so, you will like this badass sign made by the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] neko_zoi:



I am also a terrible [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby for not blogging on the protests in Russia at all and not making the solidarity demo here last week (when the revolution comes, I really hope it's not on a school night). Anyone have any good analyses they'd care to share?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (hellraiser kitty)
R.I.P. Bil Keane. You gave me so much pleasure for all the wrong reasons.



Incidentally, my favourite Family Circus of all time had Billy eating a hot dog wiener and the caption "I ran out of bun!" It was not a 'shop and there was no irony or intentional double entendre at all.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (watchmen orly)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon left me with just enough power of speech to insist that you guys read it if you haven't already, and a determination to finish reading everything Chabon has ever written and will write, even the one about baseball. He seriously does write these books that make me glomp on and speed through, wanting to absorb more, until the last few pages wherein I realize that the book is going to end and there will not be a sequel, at which point my reading slows to a snail's crawl to absorb every last word.

This one takes the cake, though. Well. It's about comic books. And other things, like the gap between one's public and private identities, and secular Judaism, and the immigrant experience in America, and dysfunctional families, and being queer, and saving the world through fiction, but mainly it's a case for the intrinsic merit of escapist pop culture and comics as an art form.

Currently reading: Footnotes From Gaza by Joe Sacco, speaking of comics. I've also downloaded Light Ahead for the Negro by E.A. Johnson (1904), for future reading.
sabotabby: (books!)
As promised, some words about the most horrific book I have ever read.

It's called Voices from Chernobyl: the oral history of a nuclear disaster, written by Svetlana Alexievich and translated by Keith Gessen. Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the Chernobyl meltdown, including liquidators sent in to clean up the disaster, firefighters, scientists, soldiers, family members of victims, and, most chillingly, young children. I'm not sure whether it's their stories, her editing and transcription, or Gessen's phenomenal translation, but there's a haunting lyricism to the monologues that places the reader at Ground Zero of the humanitarian catastrophe of these stories.

I'm afraid of the rain. That's what Chernobyl is. I'm afraid of snow, of the forest. This isn't an abstraction, a mind game, but an actual human feeling. Chernobyl is my home. It's in the most precious thing: my son, who was born in the spring of 1986. Now he's sick. Animals, even cockroaches, they know how much and when they should give birth. But people don't know how to do that. God didn't give us the power of foresight. A while ago in the papers it said that in Belarus alone, in 1993 there were 200,000 abortions. Because of Chernobyl. We all live with that fear now. Nature has sort of rolled up, waiting. Zarathustra would have said: "Oh, my sorrow! Where has the time gone?"


I think I was startled by just how compelling and awful I found this, given that I've read plenty of books on the Holocaust and Hiroshima and Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine and the Congo and Bhopal. Maybe it's because the Chernobyl meltdown happened when I was seven, and is one of those events that stuck in my mind and gave me nightmares, or because, while there are no shortage of disasters and wars and horrible things that can happen, Chernobyl was unpredictable and, as we saw in Japan, can easily happen again. Could have happened here. But it's also the luminous quality of the writing that makes the suffering and death depicted in these pages feel incredibly concrete and present.


On a more cheerful note, I went to Word on the Street today and picked up an incredible haul:

The Female of the Species, Sarah McCully. Sarah and I were friends in high school, but from the description of the book, I'd still be completely eager to read it even if I didn't know her. She's also an incredible musician and I bought her CD as well.

The Panic Button, Koom Kankesan. I know Koom as well, through teacherly things. Anyway, Alan Moore recommended it, which is good enough for me. I can't believe that someone I know (albeit not someone I know well, but still) is in communication with Moore. I seriously envision him living this Salingeresque life of hermitude that he emerges from only to write the occasional comic and make disparaging remarks about cinematic adaptations of his work.

Book of Disorders, Luciano Iacobelli.

Teaching Rebellion: stories from the grassroots mobilization in Oaxaca, Diana Denham and the C.A.S.A. Collective. I'd never heard of this book but I think it's obvious why I'd have picked it up.

Zot, Scott McCloud. I feel it is probably essential to read this.

Barnum: In Secret Service to the USA, Howard Chaykin. Never heard of it, but I liked the cover and it's by Howard Chaykin.

The Authority: Human on the Inside, John Ridley. I didn't read very far past Ellis' run on The Authority, and that clearly needed to be remedied.

I also picked up some cool t-shirts, one from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and another from Spacing Magazine, and three issues of Shameless for my class.

I am very pleased about this, as I ran out of books that I own, haven't read, and am excited to read. I've got some holds at the library but I'm going through a new book every few days. One of my holds is Das Kapital, which should keep me out of trouble for awhile, but in the meantime I need some good commuting reading.

In other news, I have a migraine. Still. The pills aren't helping.
sabotabby: (jetpack)
So here are some things that have crossed my radar lately. There's a bit of a genre theme here, if you haven't guessed.

Embassytown, China Miéville

Congratulations! You have made first contact a new alien civilization! The aliens look like something out of Lovecraft's nightmares, but they're scientifically advanced, relatively peaceful, and willing to let you set up a city on their otherwise inhospitable planet.

The catch? Communication is, shall we say, a bit of an issue. The aliens, which have two mouths and no distinction between thought and language, are unable to understand any language other than their own—or even recognize the noises that other sentient beings make as language.

Miéville's latest novel is clever as anything, philosophically and psychologically complex, and a return to dense, linguistically inventive prose. Highly recommended.

Miracleman, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, et. al.

I'd recommend that you read this one too, except unless you have a friend like [livejournal.com profile] bcholmes, who was kind and gracious enough to trust me with her now out-of-print collection, you can't.

Miracleman is a reboot/revisioning of the 1954-1963 Marvelman, which was apparently a bog-standard comic about people who turned into superheroes with a magic word. Miracleman picks up in the same campy place and then, true to Moore's form, turns into a deconstruction. Miracleman, a.k.a. reporter Mike Moran, is now middle-aged, married, suffering from migraines and dreams of flying, and unable to remember being a superhero or the magic word that transformed him. He finally does—accidentally, and in a rather unpleasant way—and the results are dark, to say the least.

It's an interesting counterpoint to Watchmen, which Moore was working on at the same time, dealing with many of the same themes—a superpowered human drifting farther from reality, comic characters with recognizably human neuroses, the disintegration and reconstruction of the social fabric as secret identities are revealed. Unlike Watchmen, however, it doesn't end with the overturning of the old world (or, you know, a giant squid)—it keeps going, and the result is fascinating.

You can also tell that, despite the rather dark turns the comic takes, especially towards the end, everyone involved is having a blast, with occasional segues and mini-issues done in the style of the Silver Age originals.

It's interesting to see what happens when Alan Moore ends his run and Neil Gaiman picks it up—I prefer Moore's writing, but Gaiman is left with the literary puzzle of having to write a comic set in what is, in most ways, a utopia. He shifts the focus from Miracleman and his family to the poor bastards who have to live in the new world, and it's quite successful.

Okay, on to the stuff that my friends made. I am biased here but I do have talented friends, so I'm going to pimp their work.

Heroine Addiction, Jennifer Matarese
(a.k.a., the one with the plus-sized, bisexual rockabilly superheroine)

Vera Noble, the daughter in a famous family of superheroes, gives up the family business to run a coffee and pie shop in a small town. She has a tense relationship with her powerful mother, and a somewhat warmer relationship with her father, who has secretly moved in with his former arch-enemy. Said arch-enemy shows up in Vera's café with a request for help—Vera's father has disappeared, and, to say the least, hasn't been himself. Hilarity ensues. Also bodyswapping, zombies, secret lairs, and practically every superhero trope in the book.

This book has a lot of what I wish others in the genre would manage: richly drawn characters, actual emotional investment, and intelligent writing. You can buy it on Lulu, and you should.

Starve Better, Nick Mamatas

Hands-down my favourite book on how to survive as a writer, and trust me, I've read a lot of these, especially back when I had delusions of making it in the publishing industry. Its focus is on short stories and short non-fiction, but Nick's advice—blunt, useful, and funny as all hell (my favourite is the essay on writing term papers)—is good advice for anyone looking to make a career out of words and have enough money to buy raman noodles.

And on to the telly:

The Borgias

[livejournal.com profile] chickenfeet2003 is right as usual—this got much better after the first episode (which I thought was pretty but not great). I mainlined the first season after school this week. It's a great deal of fun. Still needs more Machiavelli, though Giulia Farnese is nearly as awesome.

So, would you like some more music? In honour of all the genre fiction I've been inhaling lately, I've made a sci-fi-themed playlist. A caveat: I tried to exclude the obvious because it's no fun to make a playlist that's all Bowie or filks. Enjoy!

look up spaceman

track listing under the cut )

Bat Vespa

May. 13th, 2011 06:18 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (watchmen orly)
I saw the absolute best ride in the city today. There was a fellow stopped at a stoplight on my way home driving a purple and gold Vespa, trimmed with lace frills, and decked out with Batman decals. He had a matching helmet I complimented him on the fabulousness of his Vespa, whereupon he replied that it was really the cape that made it.

Yep. He was also wearing a matching cape.

My day: Made. Thank you for being awesome, whoever you are, Bat Vespa Guy.

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