Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fantastic Four #5

Writer:  Matt Fraction
Penciller:  Mark Bagley
Inker:  Mark Farmer

It did not take the Fraction/Bagley team long to settle in on this title.  Fraction started the series with the Four and Franklin and Valeria going exploring.  By taking them out of the Marvel Universe, it lets him focus on the family dynamics.  Fraction is doing a great job with the Reed-Sue relationship.  This issue had an interesting main story that centered about a trip through time to visit Rome during the final days of Julius Caesar.  Since this is the world of comics, it involves an alien explorer from the future and trying to prevent changes to the timeline.  It ends with a twist that appears to flow into the FF book.  Reading this reminds me, in spirit, of the John Byrne days of the Fantastic Four.  Byrne tried to make them more explorers and family oriented and less with the super-villains.  After Hickman’s epic run, I was afraid this title would not be as strong.  Fraction (with Bagley’s assistance) has kept the quality up without trying to imitate Hickman’s storytelling.  It is still a very good title.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Worlds Apart by Richard Cowper

Title:  Worlds Apart
Author:  Richard Cowper
First Publication:  1974

I am always torn over whether or not  to use a rating system.  Two sites I like, Stainless Steel Droppings and SF Review, both use ratings.  I tend to look at them for an idea of how the reviewer compares the story to other works.  The hard part for me is deciding whether a book is a six or a seven (for example) on a scale of one to ten.  Stick around for the end of this review and I will tie this into my thoughts on this book.

Richard Cowper is an author I always wanted to read.  “The Road to Corlay” and other novels came highly recommended in the magazines of the seventies.  I was looking at his entry in SF Gateway and discovered this book.  I had never heard of it before.  The summary reminded me of something that Philip K. Dick would have written so I  bought it on my Kindle Fire.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Buy Jupiter and Other Stories by Isaac Asimov

Title:  Buy Jupiter and Other Stories
Author:  Isaac Asimov
First Publication:  1975
Cover Artist:  John Harris

Anthologies can be hard to review.  The quality of stories tend to vary.  Sometimes one type of story might appeal to the reader but other types might not.  It becomes a battle between “greatest strength” and “greatest weakness”.  I have always enjoyed the variety of stories in good anthologies.  Early in my science fiction reading years, I was a big fan of Donald A. Wollheim’s “World’s Best SF” series (especially the ones from the late 60s).  From there I moved on to reading single author anthologies such as “The Wind’s Twelve Quarters” by Ursula K. Le Guin, “Songs of Stars and Shadows” by George R. R. Martin, “Four for Tomorrow” by Roger Zelazny, “I, Robot”  and “The Early Asimov” by Isaac Asimov, “Tales of Ten Worlds” by Arthur C. Clarke, and many others.  A couple of years ago, I decided to re-read my collection of Isaac Asimov and Roger Zelazny books.  This year I putting more of a focus on reading these old favorites.  And that brings me to this anthology.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The City Quiet As Death by Steven Utley & Michael Bishop

Title:  The City Quiet as Death
Authors:  Steven Utley & Michael Bishop
First Publication:  2009
Cover Artist:  Jon Foster

From Amazon:

Between the incessant music of the stars and the spectre of a giant squid caught inside a locket ball, it is difficult for Don Horacio to maintain a restful mind.

The synopsis does not sound exciting but that is not the reason for this short chapbook.  The authors combine to write a very poetic book.  The language seems to flow from paragraph to paragraph.

This is one of those stories that I will read again.  My best guess after the first reading is that this is a H. P. Lovecraft inspired allegory about madness.

Recommended.  When you combine two of my favorite short story writers it has to be good.