Jun. 4th, 2017

marlowe1: (PIGGY!!!!)
So I can't just assume that Dreamwidth will always just take my livejournal entries and post them here. I thought that was going to happen. Maybe I was being foolish. Of course, what makes things even more annoying is the fact that I can't import the new journal entries like I imported the old ones.

Maybe I should just stop blogging. Or maybe I should just use dreamwidth exclusively. Of course, the Russians don't care about me so why bother either way.
marlowe1: (Default)
Note - I will be posting Livejournal entries manually for a few days. Well when my regular work isn't too much.

45. Mystery Girl by Paul Tobin & Alberto J. Aburquerque - So Paul Tobin has his niche of writing fun female protagonist who are always three steps ahead of everyone else but are utterly charming. They are so capable that one is tempted to accuse them of being either Mary Sues or Manic Pixie Dream Girls. They are not Mary Sues because Mary Sue as a character does not have a personality, merely an author's fantasy of a perfect life (and the pushback Max Landis got for declaring Rey to be a Mary Sue was very deserved) and a MPDG is in relation to the sullen male protagonist. Of course, it's strange talking about these character tropes since they are relatively recent and hell, I am friends with Nathan Rabin on Facebook who still seems a little overwhelmed by the storm one character description of Elizabethtown produced (of course, Rabin is one of those great writers that has a little trouble understanding just how great he really is - and it doesn't help that AV Club didn't just hire him back as a head writer when they all know that without him, they wouldn't exist). But yeah, Paul Tobin's characters cannot be reduced to either Mary Sue or MPDG but they do have the aspects.

Trine Hampstead starts out the book with the advantage that she just knows everything. It's a strange character trait but basically she sits in front of a building and people come to her with mystery questions and she just already knows what they are going to ask and how to solve these cases. The main variation is the fact that they have to ask before she can tell them. Also she doesn't know how she got these powers.

So she has to fly to Siberia to find woolly mammoth corpses to make her life interesting. Also she's being pursued by an assassin and unlike Tobin's other heroine Bandette, there is the possibility that the assassin might do damage since this is more adult themed (not much. I mean there is some nudity and her friends are strippers) so there is a little more tension. But ultimately she knows what is going on and that keeps her ahead of everyone and it is satisfying even though there are points where the author is keeping things from the reader in order to ramp up the tension.

46. Bandette vol 3: The House of the Green Mask - So this is the last book in the adventures of Bandette the tight rope walking charming chocolate eating thief and her merry band of helpers. This one has kidnapping and a mystery that involves a locked room and something like that. Anyhow, again there seems to be less to say about this one, but the material about famous art and French history is always great. I think I need to read more Balzac.
marlowe1: (Maggie)
47.In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce - In the second book in the Alanna series, Tamora Pierce does something that surprises me just because I read so many Harry Potter books and other genre books that there is always a mystery that is revealed at the last minute. I figured that she wasn't going to say that the great powerful force that is attacking Prince Jonathan is Alanna's mentor in the hackiest of hack plot twists, but I was still surprised when Pierce led us to believe that Prince Jonathan's charming uncle was trying to kill him and then outright stated that yep, this is the guy. So much for that last chapter reveal where the suspected killer is actually the ally the entire time.

But it's actually quite ingenious that Uncle Roger (probably a different time when Roger wasn't such a loser name) is only suspected by Alanna and beloved by everyone else. I loved the subtext to the point that I was a little disappointed to learn that Roger was using magic to hide his motivations. It feels a little like the bit in Tristan and Isolde where a love potion makes them cheat on the king. But still I loved the way that this mirrors how every time something horrible happens like a Jerry Sandusky or an O.J. Simpson, there are always people who knew all the time and didn't speak up. But more importantly, there are people who were trying to warn everyone but they were ignored because he's SUCH A NICE GUY. Actually Bill Cosby is a better example.

Anyhow it's frustrating that Alanna knows exactly who Roger is but can't do anything about him. There's also a plot about his squire Alex trying to kill her that doesn't get resolved in this book. But it gets even more compelling at the end when Alanna finds Roger's magic and gets him into trial by combat when when Roger finds out that she's female gets angry as if she's the one in the wrong.

There's also a goddess and a magical cat.

48. The Flowers of Evil vol 7 by Shuzo Oshimi - I read the third volume in this story and it was the tribulations of a dopy guy with two impossibly gorgeous and interesting women wanting him. In this volume, the crazy chick talks him into a loud public suicide where they burn themselves up and then it's broken by first our hero jumping to the safe girl and the dangerous girl being stopped. Fast forward and he is in a new school and hanging out with a bunch of boys who are into ogling porn. Also there's a girl that he's interested in and this book does a good job of showing just how much peer pressure fucks us up since it seems like our mopy dopy protagonist is making a real connection with the girl - either friendship or romantic but mostly friendship - over their shared love of books. But all the douchebags that he is hanging out with see her as a prize to be won, or never grabbed because she has a boyfriend. So the book ends with him in her room looking at her books and her boyfriend comes along. Also her brother gets all creepy with that "oh hey my sister never took a boy up there" talk. So it's pretty frustrating. I kind of want to see the next chapter to see if the guy becomes like his douchebag friends or honestly knows that he's making an emotional connection.

49. Art Ops: Popism by Shaun Simon & Michael Allred - Oh fuck this thing. The central conceit that art can be alive is fine but it's such a smug bastard of a title with our hero impregnating the Mona Lisa and a group of 40something dads being the force for squares in the world (they laugh at Home Improvement) and some bullshit about contract negotiation. There's also a story about a child who draws death and his death goes wandering the world killing other kids and as an old man he forces it to catch up with him. It's an interesting one-off but mostly this book just sucks.
marlowe1: (Maggie)
50. The Amazing Spiderman: Worldwide by Dan Slott and Christos Gage - When a Marvel executive blamed their low sales on diversity there was an outcry from various factions. But one of the most painful outcries to endure was from the neckbeard contingent who decided to crow about how Marvel's diverse titles are just no damn good and Marvel should stop bowing to the SJWs who want stories about people who aren't white dudes. This is a bullshit claim for many reasons but the main reason is the fact that the diverse titles are the best titles that Marvel is putting out. Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl and Wolverine (the female version. The male version is still dead) are really expanding on what comic book writing can be about even in the mainstream.

No more is this obvious bullshit than when you read the titles that are what the fanboys supposedly want. These are the titles that are showing the same signs of wear that they were showing when I was in high school. When I was proudly declaring that I was sick of comic books, especially superhero comics, I was thinking of titles like this one. I thought that Dan Slott was the same shitty writer who was making Captain America the Hydra agent, but nope, he's just the guy who had Doctor Octopus take over Spiderman's body for a time in what had to have been one of the stupidest stories coming out from Marvel that year (Marvel is full of stupid stories). So Dan Slott works really hard. He writes a lot of books and that can be commended. He is living the dream.

But holy fuck, what a boring dream. Peter Parker is no longer a struggling college student like he has been for the run of the series, but now he's a high powered CEO. I suppose one of the parts about the Spiderman myth was that he was a genius who invented neat shit so why wouldn't he eventually make a fortune out of all those inventions. Of course, that begs the question of what the fuck he's still doing swinging around if he's got a major business to run? The rest of this story is about some guy who is bringing people back from the dead and how he wants to make a deal with Parker. But these are not clones. I think that's important to state in any Spiderman titles. These are NOT clones. Also Doctor Octopus shows up as a robot or the consciousness of a robot who goes a little crazy when the love of his life is not eager to get back with him.

51. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats up the Marvel Universe by Ryan North & Erica Henderson - This is obviously a take on Punisher kills the Marvel Universe but also Spiderman is on hand to remind everyone that clones are really stupid. But that doesn't stop Tony Stark from cloning Squirrel Girl and producing a clone who just wants to beat up everyone in the Marvel universe. But it takes a long time for the clone to start beating on everyone (this is a one shot) and the joke about how a black out causing chaos until a rider on a horse comes to the dump and impresses everyone by break a rifle in half made me laugh. Also the fact that the Hulk is beaten by an adorable squirrel getting in his eyesight and making him all gooey was awesome. There's not much to this book (sadly it's not worth the $25 Marvel is asking for it), but it's so worth reading.

52. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: I Kissed a Squirrel and I liked it by Ryan North and Erica Henderson - There are two standalone stories in this one. The first story is a choose-your-own adventure that somehow fits in comic format (assuming that everyone read Choose Your Own Adventure to get to all the possible stories) and the last one is Squirrel Girl vs. Nightmare who is trying to drive her crazy but she keeps using computer programming language to thwart his evil designs. The best part of course is where she teaches Count Nefaria to count binary. But the main story is about poor Mole Man and how he's a creepy stalker. This is the story that feels like Squirrel Girl got serious (kind of like how Ms. Marvel was trying to get everyone to vote a couple months back) and it does handle the stalker attitude to some warmth and empathy. It's very easy to think that someone is nice to you so they must REALLY be in love with you, especially for particularly emotional fragile people. But of course, that's wrong and creepy and Mole Man has always been the loser nerd of the Marvel Universe from his first introduction in Fantastic Four.

Adding a dimension of Nice Guy personality is definitely true to that kind of character. This is wrapped up a little too neatly as the dragon who hangs out with Mole Man (is it a dragon) is really in love with him, but most of the time this is sticky and while it is terrible that a man is going to sink buildings in order to get a woman to go out with him (all the while believe that she REALLY wants him), it can be so so much worse. Usually it doesn't get worse but there are enough men killing women that they think are in love with them outside the domestic violence sphere to make this story a little less fun than usual (it's still fun but brings up a lot of issue).
marlowe1: (Default)
Darkness I by Tanith Lee
Back when I started reviewing every book I read in a year, I tried to review the books that I hadn't read. After all, if I only reviewed the books that I could get through then that would be a biased sample and it would look like I loved everything. Of course, that thinking is flawed for several reasons. First, I read enough graphic novels that I hate to put in my crabby mean reviews, but also when I put a book down I don't want to deal with it. I want to forget it. And does anyone care if I just stopped reading or if I skipped over 50-100 pages hoping that things would pick up only to realize that nope, the thing is still boring?

The return to writing about a book that I didn't finish requires something special and that special occasion is when the book is written by one of my favorite writers, the writer that I push on other people, the fantasy writer's writer (like most of my writer friends love her and my non-writer friends have no clue). I actually thought that I was over being disappointed in the writers I loved in college. It's not like I'm ever going to re-read Tom Robbins or Starhawk. I pretty much figured that most of the writers that I still liked from college were still going to be great.

I still like Tanith Lee but the more I read her, the less patient I am with her meandering plots and her sociopath protagonists. Every Tanith Lee hero (with maybe a couple exceptions) is a cold-hearted fucker cut off from humanity with an inability to feel empathy. You know how Marion Zimmer Bradley got outed as a pedophile and many of her readers were not shocked because they had spent years being creeped out by her pedophilia (and we are still shocked that Piers Anthony isn't in jail)? Well, if anyone finds dead bodies on Tanith Lee's property, it won't be shocking.

But more than the lack of empathy with the characters, Darkness I, meanders all over the place. It's actually a surprise that she can write cold-hearted bastards who don't care about anyone with any interest. But this series is like the worst of the worst. I actually read the first two books in anticipation of this book because it was on my pre-determined book shelf, only I found that they were pretty bad. The first one was one that I loved in college but my enthusiasm for emotionally withdrawn incest vampire stories had faded. The second book in the Blood Opera series started out better as horror as the murdering incest vampire from the previous book was going into homes and then killing everyone. But she didn't kill the cats so it's all good. Then it falls apart when she gets roped into the family and a subplot about a father of one of the vampire groupies takes over and you just know that she's going to kill him.

So this book gives us the protagonist from the first book (the woman who gave birth to the incest vampire murderer) this time with a different daughter and a lover who is a transwoman who is the father/mother of the new vampire daughter (confused about how to talk about transgendered people who haven't made the physical transition. So is Tanith Lee). And for a few chapters it seems to be building a nice creepy atmosphere and then the whole fucking thing explodes. Lee keeps adding new characters and new situations. There are children who keep getting kidnapped and their parents are mocked for them missing. There is some bullshit about Egypt and the family going back to the Pharaohs but having Biblical names like Lilith and Cain.

It all just gets tedious, but more than tedious, it's confusing. Instead of expanding her incest vampire universe, Lee is just adding confusing to confusion with one set of boring characters to replace the set of boring characters. One character gets chained to a bed and addicted to heroin, but other ones just get written off as if even Lee knows that they are boring.

I am actually angry that I read 200 pages before skipping to the end. And then when I skipped to the end, all the children that were getting kidnapped because of some reincarnation bullshit get killed. And then Rachaela finds her lover and they live happily ever after.

I really hope this doesn't mean that I soured on Tanith Lee. I do get sick of her if I read too much. But this is the first time I hated one of her books.
marlowe1: (PIGGY!!!!)
53. The Walking Dead vol 21: All Out War pt 2 by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard - So I guess that's it for Negron. The Walking Dead does get into a lot of world weary circular plots where safety is always crushed by bigger threats, but the Negron story underlines a story that I didn't notice but Adam Troy-Castro pointed out on Facebook, namely that The Walking Dead is ultimately about rebuilding society after complete collapse. And at first there are going to be enclaves but then there will be cooperation by the various forces. Negron was the most prominent of the dictators and he was the most successful and it took a lot to get rid of him and once he is gone there are more communications between the various fiefdoms that have sprung up in the wake of the zombie apocalypse. The story of the end of Rome is full of warlords and political systems that can't hold together and when everything is rebuilt it's usually very strange. The Walking Dead doesn't give us the collapse (it happened fast) but it does make some interesting stabs at the rebuilding process. And now I know why the back covers were always about the freedom of society after everything collapses.

54.Superman vol. 1: Son of Superman by Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleason - Superman is dead again and there's an alternate universe Superman who is married to Lois and has a son in the middle of Kansas. Everything about this story is referencing the death of Superman story complete with a lot of material about that weird killer robot version of Superman with the sunglasses who turned out to be the guardian of his dead body. And this Superman in the story - this alternate and married Superman is the one who died in Death of Superman and came back with a stupid Dennis Miller haircut. I don't know why DC wants to throw all the mythology into a blender and feed it to us. It's like they no longer want to pick and choose what is canon and just made everything canon these days. Apparently the new Swamp Thing origin story is a convoluted combination of Len Weid and Alan Moore with neither story given much respect.

The only other part I liked here was the part where Superman invaded Batman's moon base. I suppose that's a nice way of meeting Batman's kill list. Superman totally smashes the Bat Moon Cave.

55. Spider Gwen: Most Wanted? by Jason Latour & Bobbi Rodriguez - Gwen Stacy was a boring character in the 60s and 70s. According to Marvel: The Untold Story the general consensus around the Marvel offices was that Gwen Stacy needed to die lest Stan Lee forced them to churn out Gwen Stacy stories indefinitely. Also, Stan Lee wrote Stacy to be the shiksa girlfriend that was his fantasy. So she was there to be an impossibly blond shiksa goddess and then the very first fridged girlfriend in comic book lore (unofficially fridged. The Green Lantern girlfriend literally went into the fridge in the 90s.) She got brought back as a clone and there was some dispute of the fridge designation since Mary Jane became much more mature after she died in order to replace Gwen in Peter's heart.

In this story, Gwen is in an alternate earth and Peter Parker tried to be the lizard and died. There's also an alternate Frank Castle (cop) and Matt Murdock (evil lawyer). Gwen is a fun character who keeps fighting with villains like Vulture but also trying to figure out her relationships with her band (Mary Jane is the lead singer, Gwen is the drummer. They keep breaking up). I find that I liked the sequel more since that one had more lizards. But this is a fine comic about an energetic heroine.
marlowe1: (Default)
56. Shadow Show: Stores in Celebration of Ray Bradbury by Various - Let's just take a moment to enjoy Rachel Bloom's very first big hit. Man, we shared this one a lot back in the day (and if you aren't watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend you are a terrible person).



And now let's get to the stories in this thing - they aren't really that good. Mostly they seem like the writers - and they were fine writers - including Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman and Alice Hoffman - are throwing out their early works, the works that they did when they were teenagers and trying to imitate Ray Bradbury. They got all the Ray Bradbury elements including the small town, the monsters at the edge of the sea, the childhood innocence and the master manipulators. It reads more like Ray Bradbury fan fiction than actual story telling. The one that I remember is "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury" which is Neil Gaiman being clever. Neil Gaiman has been writing clever stories for so long that I was actually surprised to see that Sandman still holds up. The other ones are just forgettable. Ray Bradbury turns himself into a robot. A mysterious teenager shows up in the woods and manipulates two girls. Some shit about a father and daughter on a cruise.

Ray Bradbury is one of those writers that binds many genre writers, many writers. But I think that one of the things about Ray Bradbury that makes sense is the fact that everyone starts out imitating Bradbury but they have to let him go.

57. The Golden Age Superman vol. 2 by Siegel and Shuster. - Volume 1 in this series were the superman stories that I kind of remember. Superman lifting the car. Superman stops America from going to the war in Europe. Superman takes revenge on Lois Lane for her rejection of poor Clark Kent. So now that the years have passed and Siegel and Shuster are still writing Superman, what's up for the caped crusader? A lot of chasing after cars and racing trains. The world hopping mystical era of Superman was a long way away. In these stories SUperman spent most of his time spying on corrupt businessmen who were often out to kill Lois.

Sadly, this book is way too long not to get boring. I was going to use an anecdote abotu Siegel working for Marvel in the 70s and not being able to write to the market at the time. I think it fits here but I guess there were other places it could have gone. After reading SPirit comics, it's really easy to see that Will Eisner was a genius and a writer of classics while these old Superman comics were just old comics that sucked.

58.The Extraordinary X-Men: Kingdoms Fall - Nightcrawler drops Apocalypse from a great height in order to technically meet the deal made with him to free Colossus from some kind of a Four Horseman deal. Also there are demons. Lots of demons. Someone else dies. There are people becoming those Immortals or Invulnerables or whatever the fuck they are called because Marvel wants to do a show - Inhumans? But of course, the cloud that makes the Inhumans? - into superpowered beings (Yay Ms. Marvel!) is killing Mutants. So a couple mutants got to get rescued.

I don't read X-Men anymore but it all seems so much the same. That's the problem with the illusion of change. Who cares about the stories if the reset button keeps getting hit.
marlowe1: (Spinning Tardis)
Youtube's automatic next video feature combined with the fact that I can play youtube on my television (whether or not it is on) means that I can play Youtube Telephone where I just let the site lead me through dozens of videos just to see where they lead. I will play a Lorde video and it will end up on a Korean pop group in 24 hours. I will play an episode of Boogiepop Phantom and end up at a douchebag judging the videos by how many upskirt illustrations are in them (it's not always a winner). So when I started with a Bad Writing Advice video (videos that mock crappy books with advice like "make sure that your dystopia has a love triangle") I ended up on other videos with serious writing advice. Like the person who made the videos went through a lot of thought to come up with a weekly "vlog" about writing and how to create compelling characters or ramp up tension. She was actually better in the early ones I saw where she talked about bad female characters, etc. The writing advice was either very basic or very specific to her writing style.

The only thing I learned about writing advice is that it's good for some things but you cannot take it as a gospel because writing advice can be contradictory for a major reason. Everyone writes differently. And often their writing advice reveals their weaknesses. Stephen King says to just write without an outline and you can see how this plays out in his books. On one hand the plot does feel like it comes organically from the characters instead of a need to pigeonhole them into a plot and yet he rarely ends a book in a satisfactory manner. The longer the book, the more likely there will be an explosion that kills off most of the secondary characters.

Also amateur writers are the ones more likely to give writing advice. It's like how people who can't stay with their boyfriends or girlfriends more than a month are just full of relationship advice. In the case of this youtube channel, the woman has a self-published book with mixed reviews. It's like she thought of the success of being asked about her process without fine tuning her process.

But then this leads to the youtube debate over whether youtubers should write books. There are two themes that I noticed in the youtube videos entitled "Should Youtubers write books?" (go on google it). First, there was some woman who got a publishing contract and then a ghost writer for her book. Second, the videos are fucking painful. Like the people who are doing them can't be bothered to write down a script or even rehearse. So they just go around the subject and never get to the fucking point. They also think of exceptions to their statements as soon as they make them. Probably when they are making them. Sometimes they mention John Green but then kind of say that he doesn't count because he was already writing books or something. Anyhow, they probably aspire to be John Green who writes pretty good YA books and has a well produced set of videos.

The part that fascinates me is the fact that it's obvious that almost every single one of these youtube "personalities" (I'm sure they have fans) would love to make money in the book writing business. After all, book writing actually pays better than patreons if the books are bestsellers (big if) but they are probably just as bad as writing books as they are at speaking clearly with purpose when the camera is on. Only they can't write one and they are jealous of those youtube "personalities" who do get book contracts, citing the anonymous youtube personality (why the fuck doesn't anyone name her) who got a ghost writer. So they try to say that writing a book when you have a youtube channel is unfair, like you are jumping in front of the line or you are taking focus away from legitimate book writers. Of course, there are plenty of celebrities who write books so the "it's unfair" debate is pretty moot.

THere are also youtube channels where teenagers review books. It's actually kind of weird to see them want to talk about a book but take forever to get to it. It's even worse in the 10 Most Hated Books when you find out that the first book is a Twilight book.
marlowe1: (Teddy Bear)
59. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce - This was the weakest book in the quadrology. It is still pretty good though and I was impressed. Alanna in the desert among the desert people could have turned into white savior, but thankfully everyone in the tribes were multi-layered and not just waiting around for Alanna. Alanna's entry into the tribes as the tribes is based on her skills that she worked on and the fortune to get rid of some ancient demons that tend to nibble at the edges of these books. I rather love how Pierce doesn't feel the need to explain everything that is going on in the world so there is just enough to tantalize without going into long narrative digressions.

The part that gets to me is the end of the book where she has learned and taught all that she needed to learn and teach with the tribes and gets to the point where she finds out that Roger is back. It's all a lot of cliffhanger plotting which can be forgiven since anyone who is reading the third book in a four book series can reasonably be expected to want to buy the fourth book.

60. Lioness Rampant - When I talked about how much I liked Protector of the Small, one of the reasons people cited for liking the Alanna series more was the fact that Alanna was a lot more energetic and sexual. They thought that the character of Protector of the Small was too good while Alanna had flaws. Alanna also had a string of boyfriends. With respect to the Alanna fans, I did not like the fact that Alanna was stuck into another love triangle. The Prince is now a king and there's a lot of idiot plotting going on in the capital, but first Alanna takes off with a ninja warrior to find a magic icon. Having giving away that Roger is back from book 2 and that George is fighting rival gang leaders so all the adventure into the war torn and then the magic mountain feels like a distraction, even as she is collecting the people required for the ending.

Anyhow the last part is kind of anticlimatic. Alanna comes back, finds out that Roger is back from the dead and then wonders why her brother Alan is looking sick. THere are plots but they are fairly straightforward. The part of the book that bothers me the most is the fact that Roger has to be brought back from the dead for tension but then no one kills him or throws him in jail because the old king was just too sad or something. So again Alanna has to take care of him while he springs his plan.

Both of these books were fun reads and they were tightly plotted but the flaws seem more apparent the more I remember them.
marlowe1: (Spinning Tardis)
61. Sex Criminals Vol 3: Three the Hard Way by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky - It's very strange to call a book sex criminals these days. Back in the 70s, you could be transgressive with the phrase because a sex criminal could be anyone from Oscar Wilde to Roman Polanski and since the 70s came out of a repressive 50s and challenging 60s, there was a great deal of confusion over what was accepted as a sex crime. This remained pretty much the same into the 80s where the flip side of the equation happened where all the sex crimes were terrible. AIDS paved the way for a lot of acceptance of gay people only after Reagan murdered them by not taking the AIDS crisis seriously. But the 70s was a time when NAMBLA could make an argument that they should be accepted into Pride Parades and outright predators like Jimmy Savile joked about all the teenage girls that he was raping in a wink wink nudge nudge manner.

So now even Rush Limbaugh gets that the difference between sexuality and sex crime is consent. Of course, he doesn't outright accept that belief.

I write about the title because I don't remember much of the book beyond the fact that these people can stop time by having sex. And then they commit crime, so they are sex criminals. The only memorable chapter is about an agent who is asexual and how lonely that felt growing up since everyone else was having a great time and she just couldn't be bothered.

62. Terrible Virtue by Ellen Feldman - I did not think that I would like this book as much as I did. Margaret Sanger is still a divisive figure even among people who love her overriding mission. There's that combination of ignorance and the certainty of her enemies that has tarnished but even though 90% of the "Margaret Sanger was a genocidal Nazi creep" talk is bullshit there was the kernel of truth in the fact that she did like eugenics and she did promote it. Not all eugenicists were the psychopaths that inhabit historical dramas these days who are busy sterilizing teenagers and denying health care to black people (can I mention right here that The Knick is a slog through a hellish cultural judgment where all the assholes win every time?). So even though she is being political when she asks for black leaders to help her distribute birth control and birth control information throughout the black community because she doesn't want to be accused of genocide and that got taken out of context (as in she really is in favor of genocide and just wants to cover her tracks) there are other things that can't be taken out of context.

This book doesn't necessarily give us both sides of the Sanger debate but it does change perspectives to the point that one perspective is Sanger telling her story and the other one is her family, friends and lovers grinding an axe at everything she's done wrong. Her lawyer mocks her for wearing black dresses like a nun even though he admires the strategy of hiding her free love tendencies. Her children are neglected and her husband is left by the wayside. And yet it really makes for a compelling narrative even as it circles around the plot.

63. Radioactive Spider Gwen: Greater Power by Jason Latour & Robby Rodriguez - This one plays more with the alternate universe Spidermans. Peter Parker is still dead in her world but Harry Osborne became Green Goblin in order to take revenge. Spiderwoman shows up and is pregnant (and really fun). Daredevil is an evil lawyer for Kingpin and Frank Castle is in the cops but he's still obsessive. There are also more lizards. The part that I really liked was how she actually has a heart-to-heart talk with Harry Osborne about how they are both guilty over Peter Parker. It's really pretty damn good and finally Gwen gets a personality.

64. Sandman Dream Country by Neil Gaiman - Sandman still holds up. I do have less affection for Gaiman these days because I read his short story collections and they were clever but not decent. But the Sandman comics are still amazing. This is the one with Calliope being held prisoner as the muse of a horror writer who experiences great literary success from raping a muse in his attic. There are some very pointed bits about how he always thought of himself as a feminist and the question "where do you get your ideas?" floating around. It's a writerly fantasy from a writer who was still a fun cult writer at the time. The beats of the story of the success almost overwhelm the horrific aspects, but then again that fantasy of writing anything you want including epic poetry and screenplays and being successful and richer at everything with everyone asking how you did it is a fantasy in every amateur writer's head. Anyhow there's also teh Midsummers Nights Dream story and the cat story. There's also the one where the character from Doom Patrol is very sad. And dies. I didn't like that one.

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Tim Lieder

September 2017

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