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Blog: Wot I Have Been Reading

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Sometimes when I'm at a loose end with no Urgent Tasks I think to myself "what would I most like to do right now?" and the answer is always "Sit and read a book or comic for a bit". It's a really basic thing that I always realise I WANT to do, but for some reason rarely actually DO do. When I used to ROCK around the country a lot one of the nicest things about it was all the time it gave me to sit and READ without worrying that I should be doing something else, despite the fact that I COULD do it a lot more instead of, for instance, glumly scrolling through social media and/or newspaper websites.

THUS of late I have tried to actually DO some reading when I have a spare moment and it has been GRATE. The process had been greatly helped by a) the huge pile of COMICS collections what I have bought recently and b) the release of the Arthur C Clarke Award Shortlist. This latter is something I have got well into over the past few years, as it is a GRATE way to find out about some Exciting New Science Fiction (and also some Rather Dull New Science Fiction) and so I have endeavoured to READ the whole shortlist each year.

This has always brought up some BRILLO new stuff, and this year the ESPECIALLY BRILLO book it has so far given me has been Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tish. This is a PROPER old-fashioned sci-fi story about SPACE MARINES but is also DEAD MOVING and EXCITING and full of ACTUAL CHARACTERS doing INTERESTING THINGS and I flipping loved it. Sadly the fact that is was so full of EXCITEMENT meant that the next book I read, In Ascension, was a huge disappointment as it spent about A MONTH plodding along while some quite dull people had unhappy lives that led to them finding A Big Hole In The Sea. I got about 25% of the way through and gave up - the nice thing about reading on Kindle is that a) it tells you how much you've read quite precisely and b) doesn't feel like such a big deal to just pack a book in when you're fed up with it. Usually the book I find most boring is the one that wins, so if any Prospective Tory Candidates are reading this I suggest you pop down to the bookies now!

After that I read The Ten Per Cent Thief by Lavanya Lakshminarayan, which was somewhere in between. It was RAMMED with a LOT of IDEAS and SATIRE and MORE IDEAS so that it felt very 2000AD-ish, but sadly without much of the actual HUMOUR or Interesting Characters you get in The Galaxy's Greatest Comic. It was like one of those hyper-detailed splash pages that some artists (I'm thinking Chris Burnham, although I know he's not really DONE much 2000AD) do, where there's lots to see but it doesn't really tell a story in itself. It was all right though! I'm now onto The Mountain In The Sea by Ray Nayler, which is ALSO about the sea but in this case moves along at quite a clip and features ROBOTS and also MONSTERS, and so I have high hopes.

MEANWHILE I have also been reading through the big pile of COMICS what I either bought in Brighton OR got with BIRTHDAY VOUCHERS. I've just read the latest collection of Ryan North's "Fantastic Four", which was ACE, and the similarly ACE second volume of "Black Hammer". Sadly I have ALSO finally read "Doomsday Clock", which is probably the worst comic EVER. I say this not because it's incompetently done - it isn't, with perfectly pleasant art and annoyingly Quite Exciting plotting sometimes - but because it is such a horrendous and vile misunderstanding and misappropriation of the original "Watchmen" which it claims to be based on.

There is not NECESSARILY anything wrong with continuations of existing works - I must confess that I have read more than one Jane Austen "continuation" where otherwise perfectly respectable authors have gone "Oh WOW what if the cast of Pride And Prejudice met all of her other characters like an Austen-VERSE but with MURDER" or "Same, but with ZOMBIES" and have very much enjoyed them all. However, these were all done with extremely out of copyright books, and NOT on a series by a living author who has been MASSIVELY RIPPED OFF for decades by the very people who are publishing this new version.

Also, at least PD James et al appear to have READ Jane Austen and GET it (I still contest that Matt Smith in "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" is the BEST Mr Collins EVER), whereas the people who made "Doomsday Clock" seem to have read it once and gone "Oh yeah, superheroes. How cool would it be if it had SUPERMAN in it too eh?" NOT COOL AT ALL is the answer. There's also loads of annoying crap where they start off TRYING to do the nine-panel grid and self-referential images but then get bored a few issues in and start doing massive splash pages instead. Also none of the previous characters act anything like they did in "Watchmen", there's a complete misunderstanding of how Dr Manhattan's understanding of time ACTUALLY WORKS, and... well, it's a load of old bollocks done by Seasoned Professionals who should know better.

Unfortunately it was also BOUGHT by a long-time comics reader who should ALSO have known better, but hey, I bought it in my post-ARMA AWARD HAZE so will try to be forgiving of myself. I've got the second volume of Al Ewings "Immortal Thor" to go next, I think that'll clear the old Comics Palate a bit!

posted 26/6/2024 by MJ Hibbett

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"Longlisted for the Booker Prize" is a CLEAR CLUE that a book is going to be a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT. That Rushdie bloke keeps getting his books nominated for Booker, yet I find his stuff to be UNREADABLY DULL every time I crack open a new spine to the smell of virgin print. We were WARNED.
posted 27/6/2024 by Winning a prize makes it WORTHY. Not ENJOYABLE.

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