Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Numb3rs: "Blowback" - This one jumped around a bit too much for me, and didn't involve enough math to keep it interesting. There was no overwhelming menace, and no urgency. A mediocre episode.
  • Sarah Jane Adventures: "The Day of the Clown" - Um. Ok, Rani is a great new character. Her dad is a fun addition. And the bad guy was truly menacing. But... how did they defeat him? I mean, really? I know it's a kid show, but it should still make sense.
  • Iron Chef America: "Cora vs Smith" - One of my all-time favorite foods is the day's ingredient. It was a good one. I'd love to try most of those dishes.
  • Heroes: "Dying of the Light" - Another weak episode of this series.
  • Dinner: Impossible: "Hospital Hijinks" - That was a fun one. I've had good hospital food, but nothing like that stuff.
  • Smallville: "Prey" - You'd think Chloe would be smart enough to meet with "special" folks individually and escort them safely home afterward. I didn't buy Davis as a bad guy until seeing him looking strung-out in this episode. I still don't buy him as the character he's rumored to be.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Home Town Haunts" - That pool hall is cool, but it seems like a shame that two floors of the building aren't even being used. They didn't see anything there that wasn't easy to explain. The other place was very interesting, but again, didn't appear to have any spooks either.

Comics this week:
  • Green Lantern #35 - A retcon with some setup for Blackest Night. At least it appears to be over. For now.
  • Green Lantern Corps #29 - Almost nothing for me in this one.
  • Fallen Angel #30 - I think I would be more impressed with the cliffhanger if it wasn't on the cover. Just saying.
  • Phantom #25 - Everything gets tied up, and the status goes back to quo. I don't know whether I'm relieved, or disappointed.
  • Justice Society of America #19 - This really does look like a lead-up into Kingdom Come. I'm not sure where Johns and Ross are going with this, but I hope it's a new path because I really don't want to reread KC in JSA.
  • Doctor Who: The Forgotten #2 - Another great issue! I love this one. The art is fantastic, and the story is nicely strong. More like this, please!
  • Grant Morrison's Doctor Who #1 - Reprints of some of Grant Morrison's work on the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip. I had read the 7th Doctor story, but not the 6th Doctor one. As usual, great quality.
  • Captain Britain and MI13 #6 - This book is hitting its stride. And I'm even able to follow the action without knowing who all the players are! Worth checking out.
  • Super Friends #8 - Oooh, oooh, I just love this book! Aquaman is so cute in this one! And the Scarecrow is a perfect villain for Halloween.
It looks like I'll be doing my reviews based on when I get my comics from DCBS, and it appears that I'll be getting them up to a week after they ship. The perils of living in the middle of nowhere. Finally, Wednesday is no longer an important day in my life. How strange, after over 16 years of it being such a big part of my life.

This week's movie was Persepolis, via Netflix (because our library system is very weak on movies). I really enjoyed the book, but it's been quite awhile since I read it, so this was almost like a new story to me. This story reinforces the truth that people are simply people, all the world around. And most people would simply like to live in peace. The whole tale could be told by many women out in the world. Love, life, and in Marji's case, revolution, war, and homelessness as well. There is a great deal of history in this, enough to make you crazy at human stupidity. And the treatment for depression that she gets... wow, familiar and frightening. The comments on forgetting that they weren't free was also terrifying, as it's something we're facing here. The end, of self-imposed exile tinged with regretful acceptance, is painful. But it's still one of those movies that everyone ought to see.

My library book this week was Wondrous Beginnings edited by Steven H Silver and Martin H Greenberg. This is an anthology of stories by some of the best sci-fi writers around... but the catch is that it's their first story. Not their strongest work, but the work that was first published (or written). As a result, the quality is even more erratic than most anthologies. I won't go into detail about every story, I'll just mention some of my favorites and notables. "The Runaway Skyscraper" by Murray Leinster starts off the collection, and was such a strong story I had to wait several days before I wanted to read any other story because I was afraid they wouldn't live up to the fun. "Proof" by Hal Clement takes on the whole concept of the other in such a wonderful way... he always manages to twist your perceptions. The intro to "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card convinced me that I don't want to read any more books or stories by Card (it was the longest of the intros and made him sound like a bombastic self-absorbed moron). A pity, as the story itself is still good (better, I think, than the novel he made from it). I loved "Much Ado About Nothing" by Jerry Oltion, playing on what might result from an unfamiliar look at an alien world. "Dance in Blue" by Caterine Asaro was a lovely mystery, very nicely done. "Barter" by Lois McMaster Bujold was funny, and was the original reason I picked up this anthology. And lastly, "TeleAbsence" by Michael A Burstein was a heart-rending tale of what technology should be and could be, with dead-on truths of why it can't be. Overall, a solid anthology. Certainly not the best. Only one truly sour note in the whole thing, and that was an intro that you might as well skip. Worth checking out for the first story alone.

Just for the record, here are the stories included in Wondrous Beginnings: "The Runaway Skyscraper" by Murray Leinster, "The Isolinguals" by L Sprague de Camp, "Freedom of the Race" by Anne McCaffrey, "Proof" by Hal Clement, "Loophole" by Arthur C Clarke, "The Dead Man" by Gene Wolfe, "We're Coming Through the Window" by Barry N Malzberg, "The Hero" by George R R Martin, "Lunchbox" by Howard Waldrop, "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card, "The Emerson Effect" by Jack McDevitt, "Much Ado About Nothing" by Jerry Oltion, "Barter" by Lois McMaster Bujold, "The Xeelee Flower" by Stephen Baxter, "Dance in Blue" by Caterine Asaro, "TeleAbsence" by Michael A Burstein, and "First Contact Inc." by Julie E Czerneda.

I received an uncorrected proof of a recently published book from a friend (thanks Joe!), and decided to go ahead and review it. The book is Superpowers: A Novel by David J Schwartz. The book was published in June. The story concerns five college kids who unexpectedly wake up one morning with superpowers, and what they do with those abilities. The story goes about how you might expect, with the usual "let's be superheroes!" start that goes terribly wrong. The story is set in 2001, ranging from May until October. Yes, 2001. Think about it. But it doesn't happen quite like you expect, and the conclusions of the story are completely different than "with great power" and all that comes with that. I did enjoy the read, because it surprised me a little despite being overall predictable. It's worth checking out from the library.

Since I don't expect most people to read this far in my Sunday Reviews, here's a little "contest". If you want to read Superpowers, and don't mind an uncorrected proof, post a comment on this note saying you'd like my copy. First person to respond I'll e-mail for your address, and send on the book to you just as it was passed on to me.