Review: Crossover, Breakaway, Killswitch

December 11th, 2009

Crossover, Breakaway, and Killswitch by Joel Shepherd - 6/10

A trilogy of far-future science fiction novels which focus on Cassandra Kresnov, a cutting-edge gynoid, built for combat, who has decided that although she's really, really good at it, combat's not really what she wants to do. So she 'retires' to a high-tech, hacker-oriented planet and - surprise! - finds herself allied to the SWAT-team analogue and in combat all the time.

I read all three of these books, but just barely. At no point was I highly enthused to see what happened next. The characters were not cardboard but they were pretty shallow, having obvious motivations but nothing deeper. And the plot - goodness, the plot. It was the classic "drunkard's walk" where stuff happened and then other stuff happened and suddenly some other stuff is happening and none of it seems anticipated, much less foreshadowed. The characters would be investigating something and then it would be combat time and then they'd go chasing off after somebody else for no reason that a reader could readily ascertain.

Shepherd writes pretty good combat sequences, and his prose flows well, but the books lacked the structural elements of literature that really make a book worth reading.

Do Black Women Read Comic Books?

December 10th, 2009

You may already know the answer to this question. If you're a Sequential Tart, you almost certainly do know the answer. But I didn't and it's something I was wondering recently.

Black men definitely read comic books; I would not be at all surprised if the percentage of comic book aficionados who are black was greater than the percentage of the general population who are. A majority of the clientele at my local comic book store in College Park MD were African-American. Comic books have spoken to black kids as well as white since at least the 1970s (if not even earlier).

But women into comic books are uncommon - certainly less as a percentage than their proportion in the general population - and although in my two decades of Con-going comic book geekdom I have spoken with Asian, Hispanic, SE Asian, and all sorts of Caucasian women who are into comic books, my personal experience has not had me talking comics with any black female comic book fans. So I wondered.

Anyhow, the answer is yes. Felicia D. Henderson began writing Teen Titans this summer, and has the following to say:

I am a long time comic book fan. I was a sickly child, which meant lots of time on the Asthma inhaler and lots of time in the house while my brothers and sisters played outside. So I created my own alternate universe and comic books helped me do that. My sisters were reading Archies and I was reading “Batman” and coming up with ways the villains could take out my younger brother. Yes, I was dark even at ten years old.

So it appears to be a hole in my experience, rather than a lack of interest in the medium on their part (at least, no greater than the lack of interest on the part of the female gender as a whole.) So that's good. I like it when people read comics and I like it when comics speak to as many people as possible. Clearly I just need to get out more, go to some conventions outside of San Diego and the SF Bay Area.


December 9th, 2009

When you have a chainsaw, all sorts of problems suddenly look like they can be solved with a chainsaw.


December 8th, 2009

One of the side benefits of listening to Rammstein is that it improves my admittedly feeble German vocabulary.

New from 'Leibe is für alle da':
Haifisch = Shark
Einschalten = Energize/Switch On

I have to say, though I love English and can extol her virtues ad nauseum, German really is a perfect language for serious rocking out.

Let it Snow

December 7th, 2009

I was out and about today and was startled to see just how low the snowline was from last night's (12/6/09) precipitation; not only was Mount Diablo white almost to the base, but the Concord Hills were snow-covered and even the low peaks in Briones park to our west had a sprinkling of the white stuff.

On the news they said that snow had not fallen this low in this amount since 1978, and from what I can see, I believe it. Here, see for yourself (click for double size):

That's Diablo seen from Concord/Pleasant Hill at noon today; note the Concord (Clayton?) hills to the left. Sorry about the resolution, that's from my cell phone. A new camera is on my Christmas list (hint, hint).