Spies, Trains, and um, a Third Thing

I have some ideas to finally spruce this place up with some art. If I can find the time to actually do it, keep an eye out for that. I’m hoping to do it without destroying the site. Anyway…

Thought I’d share a few things I’m reading (or just read):

Iron Council, by China Mieville Iron CouncilJens raved about Mieville not too long ago, and I’m forced to agree. This is a fantasy steampunk with absolutely stunning prose. Apparently it’s book three in a series about this setting (which is not our earth), but I didn’t even realize that until it was pointed out to me, as the books aren’t really connected. There are all sorts of remarkable facets of the book and its take on fantasy – I may try to organize my thoughts for a few separate blog posts. But let me highly recommend this novel. It will change the way you think of fantasy. I’ve just started in on Perdido Street Station, which is the first book of the series.

The Nightly News, art and words by Jonathan HickmanThe Nightly News, by Jonathan Hickman – I mentioned Hickman’s Pax Romana in this space a while back, an effort that I thought was laudable but ultimately a failure (simply because there wasn’t enough of it). This doesn’t suffer from that so much – in fact, I’d say this story about a home-grown cult of anti-media terrorists fits the comic book medium perfectly. It packs quite a bit of punch, and Hickman’s annotations at the end of the book are as interesting as the story. As an artist, Hickman’s style isn’t easy to describe. He’s a lot more of a graphic artist than a traditional penciler, and for better or worse he leaves behind the old style layouts of most comics.

Queen and Country, Definitive Edition volume 1, by Greg Rucka and various artists – Who doesn’t like a good spy story? And this one is great. It’s not super spy business, so don’t look for battles between skiers down the side of a mountain or invisible cars. It’s gritty, realistic spy drama and action. It makes me want to write my own spy stories. I like the Steve Rolston art on the early material best, at least in this collection.Queen and Country Issue 1, by Greg Rucka and Steve Rolston

Update! On a somewhat related note that not-so-coincidentally comes roughly 3 hours after this post, I finally saw Inglourious Basterds and it rocked. It was a lot more of a spy movie that I thought, and a great one.

That is all.


4 thoughts on “Spies, Trains, and um, a Third Thing”

  1. Glad you enjoyed “Iron Council”. I meant to blog at length about it, but it’s one of those works that is so monumental, so towering in its accomplishment that I didn’t want to begin to profane it with my half-assed descriptions. What a book. I can’t wait to read more of his stuff. I came by a couple good interviews with him:
    I’m thrilled that a guy with his education and talent writes genre fic – as he says often, he acknowledges the allegorical potential of the genre, but he also likes that in fantasy, the fantastic can be there for its own sake. Or, “I’m in it for the fucking monsters.” God! What a writer. He writes like Cormac McCarthy if McCarthy cared about human beings.

  2. The only aspect I feel like I could talk about with any intelligence was how he doesn’t go halfway with his magic – it drenches everything, even the technology, and shapes the world. So often in fantasy we have a situation where the setting is basically exactly like medieval Europe and oh by the way people can teleport and sometimes have to fight a dragon. The magic doesn’t really affect the day-to-day life of the common peasant, which really isn’t very realistic (insofar as anything can be realistic in these sorts of stories, heh).

  3. I agree. I like the creativity of it, too – magic distorts reality and manifests along planes other than the purely physical, or material, I guess. Like the sound-demons, or the bounty hunter that rides a horse or “a horse-shaped bruise in reality”.
    Wow! And the elementals! How insane was that? When Mieville includes fantastic stuff, it seems REALLY fantastic. You get a sense of how awesome and interesting it would be to actually see these things, not like in some other fantasy works where it’s “Ho-hum, there’s a dragon.”

  4. I loved The Nightly News – some of the freshest, most innovative comics work, style-wise, at least, in my lifetime.

    Queen & Country is pretty great, too – and it gets better as the series goes on. Hope you keep reading.

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