Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by captcalhoun, Dec 22, 2011.
Star Trek DS9 Unity by S.D.Perry
I decided to take a short break from Sandstorm, and started reading Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others written by Geoff Johns, with pencils by Ivan Reis, inks by Joe Prado, addition inks by Andy Lanning, Oclair Albert, Johnathan Glapion, Julio Ferriera and Ivan Reis, colors by Rod Reis, and letters by Nick J. Napolitano.
Just finished Thom Hartman's The Hidden History of the War on Voting. It brings up a few things I didn't know about, or had forgotten about, and has a few good ideas, but the author makes lots of very obvious factual errors, frequently goes too far back in history, or not far enough, and much of the book reads like a far-left screed (not as common as a far-right screed, but no more pleasant). Picked it up the same trip in which I picked up the Janeway "autobiography."
Also just finished the current issue of Westways on my lunch break today. And I've been plowing through a very thick pile of newsletters and other disposable reading material that's been accumulating because of the lack of train and trolley rides this year.
I am almost halfway through and someone died which I didn't expect. It's a real page turner
I finished Tiamat's Wrath.
I hope that the last Expanse book comes out early next year, what a great saga!
Now I am going to start with The Shadow Commission by David Mack.
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. A middle eastern fantasy about djinn and such.
Careless Whiskers by Miranda James
21 – MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS by Agatha Christie.Yeah, I’m familiar enough with the story to remember who did it, but not why or how it plays out, cos my set of the Suchet Poirots doesn’t go up to this one, and I’m planning to watch the Branagh version which is over Xmas, so…
It’s another classic Poirot plot, from 1934, and written most in the form of interview dialogues, with very little description, which actually works to its favour; it reads as if Christie was thinking of turning it into either a play or a radio drama. Poirot’s dialogue does more than enough to give him character - the other characters less so, none are particularly dimensional – and it’s definitely Suchet’s voice I hear, rather than Finney or Ustinov, in the books. If ever I read one that I think sounds like Malkovich, I’ll take that as a viable diagnosis of dementia…
Poirot in it does make up one thing out whole cloth rather tan from clues we’re presented with, which is unusual for Christie. Fortunately for him, it turns out to be true, and to be fair he does admit later to guessing at stuff based on the sort of household he expects an American one to be like. I still thank she was pushing it there though.
The ending is very sudden, and is open to different interpretations of Poirot’s attitude. In the Suchet version ISTR him being angry or annoyed at the decision, but I read the printed version as being perfectly OK with it…
Bruce and I put out a "special" Christmas Day episode of Positively Trek Book Club with a particularly festive topic: James Blish's Spock Must Die!... Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays, everyone!
Currently re-reading Federation by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. It's long been a favourite, enjoying looking back at it!
Started reading "Sacraments of Fire" (DS9)
I started reading Original Sin, and am pleasently surprised with it.
Currently reading the Space: 1999 Year One omnibus. It came out a year ago as a limited edition hardcover of only 200 copies. It was delayed about 8 - 10 years, so I had completely given up on ever seeing it. So, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the small press Space: 1999 publisher, after 4 years of inactivity, came back to life at the end of 2019 to publish this. Copies are probably still available, for anyone interested (and who has $200 to spend).
Simultaneously rewatching the Year One episodes, for the first time in a decade. The Blu-ray episodes look amazing. Pity about the scripts! (which is, essentially, what I thought about the show in 1975, when I was 15. 45 years on, and my take is still the same!)
I just finished reading To Boldly Go: Rare Photos from the TOS Soundstage: Season One (2016) by Gerald Gurian (checked out from the Tampa/Hillsborough public library).
A nice book of (mostly) rare photos taken from various sources (such as "film trims" of shot but unused footage that was later sold to fans by Gene Roddenberry's merchandising outfit, Lincoln Enterprises). A lot of official publicity photos (which have been seen elsewhere), as well. I particularly liked some of the behind the scenes pictures of the special effects guys filming the Enterprise and other spaceship models, as well as shots of the bridge where you can see the rafters above or the wooden slats below (the latter in an image demonstrating the "pie like" structure of the main bridge set which allowed sections to be removed to allow better access for cameras and lighting equipment).
I liked that the photos were arranged in chapters taking us chronologically through the first season in the order that the episodes were shot, and the inclusion of the shooting dates, budget (how much it cost to shoot that episode), and director and writer credits at the start of each chapter. (These books can be seen as a companion piece to Marc Cushman's These Are the Voyages: TOS three volume series, so a decent number of the pics here can also be seen in the first of first books, although those were all in black-and-white.)
The to thing that I found a bit bothersome was the quality of a lot of the colorized photos. Gurian usually does note these as having been "colorized from black and white" (but doesn't specify if that's the way he found them or if they were colorized specially for this book. Either way, the colorizing effect gives a lot of the pictures a very fake looking quality, and messes up the depth of focus (one character sticking out from the rest of the picture because of the overly bright color given to his or her clothing. I think I would have preferred less of these colorized pics in favor of the original black-and-white versions, if possible.
Still, it's an enjoyable book to page through. As its primarily a collection of pictures, there is very little actual reading necessary aside from a very long introduction by Gurian and then short captions accompanying each picture. (I gave this four out of five stars on GoodReads.)
I also last week finished reading the first eighteen months or so worth of the earliest Superman comic books and newspaper comic strips. Here is what I posted about that on my personal Facebook page on December 19:
You know all those bookshelves of DC and Marvel comics reprint collections that I’ve accumulated/collected over the years? I kept saying to myself that I wanted to start reading my way through them, but I’d be too busy reading other things, watching stuff, etc.
I finally started on the comics, starting with the early Superman stories. I have over the past month read the Superman stories from:
Action Comics #1-20 (June 1938 through January 1940 cover dates)
Superman daily newspaper strips stories from January 16, 1939, though January 6, 1940
New York World’s Fair Comics [#1] 1939 (April 1939)
Superman (comic book series) #1 ([July] 1939), #2 ([Fall] 1939), and #3 (Winter [January] 1940)
Superman Sunday newspaper strips stories from November 5, 1939, though December 31, 1939
These stories have been published in several different print book collections over the years. The ones I own and used to read these stories were:
Superman: The Action Comics Archives Volume 1 (1997) (which reprints the Superman stories in Action Comics #1, and #7-20*)
Superman Archives Volume 1 (1989) (which reprints Superman #1-4)
Superman: The World’s Finest Comics Archives Volume 1 (2004) (which reprints the Superman stories from New York World’s Fair Comics #1-2 (1939 and 1940), World’s Best Comics #1, and World’s Finest Comics #2-15)
Superman: The Dailies Volume 1: 1939-1940 (Kitchen Sink Press/DC Comics, 1999)
Superman: The Sunday Classics: 1939-1943 (Kitchen Sink Press/DC Comics, 1998)
I’m going to put details about the various reprint collections in the comments below so as not to overwhelm this post with all of that stuff. See links there if interested in maybe trying to find these books to buy online or to see if your local public library has then or can get them via interlibrary loan.
As for these stories themselves, the Superman seen in these earliest stories is quite a bit different from the version most of us are familiar with. He is a “champion of the oppressed”. He uses his great strength and near invulnerability to attack forces of injustice. He’s not afraid to physically threaten bad guys for information or to coerce them to confess. Nor does he hesitate to destroy property if needed (in one case destroying a whole neighborhood of poor slum housing in order to force the city to build new ones, in another wrecking a rival newspaper’s printing presses when they threaten to print a news story that will destroy an innocent man’s reputation).
This Superman appears for the very first time mid story (and mid leap) carrying a woman (the real killer) to the governor’s mansion to get the governor to pardon the innocent man that’s about to be executed for said murder. When the butler won’t let Superman in, he knocks the front door down. By a few stories into his first year, Superman is wanted by the police for destruction of property and other crimes (yet secretly many of the police actually applaud Superman for confronting evil men like corrupt business owners and government officials).
This Superman can not fly (not yet). Instead, he takes giant leaps (at times said to be as long as an eighth of a mile). The effect is similar to flying but he sometimes lands places he doesn’t intend to and also can’t hover or reverse his direction mid leap.
This Superman is invulnerable to bullets, knives, most accidents, and even small explosions, although occasionally can be knocked out if the explosion is large enough.
This Superman’s origin is very basic in his first appearance: baby sent to Earth in rocket ship from alien planet just as its exploding, found by passing motorist who turns him in at orphanage. Grows up to have superpowers. Decides to use them to protect the weak and oppressed. (Specific details like his Krypton parents, “Jor-L” and “Lora”, and his adopted Earth parents, the Kents, are missing entirely from the first story appearance. Much of the Jor-L and Lora background comes originally from the newspaper strips, not the comic books.
Where things are more familiar are with Superman’s other identity as meek newspaper man, Clark Kent. In the first story, Kent has just gotten a job at The Daily Star (which in one single early story in Action Comics becomes The Cleveland Evening News—Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were both from Cleveland—but then goes back to bring The Daily Star). The name of the newspaper wouldn’t change to more familiar The Daily Planet until the first Sunday newspaper strips story in January 1940 (thought to have been changed due to other real life newspapers named The Daily Star or something similar).
Clark Kent’s editor at The Daily Star during this first year isn’t named Perry White. Instead, his name is George Taylor. There is no Jimmy Olsen yet (just an occasional office copy boy).
However, there is one other familiar face: Lois Lane. Appearing right from the very first story in Action Comics #1, Lois is a frustrated reporter delegated to the “lovelorn” column rather than out chasing down real news stories. When Clark Kent arrives and starts getting all the front page stories, she immediately dislikes him and considers him to be a spineless weakling. However, she isn’t above using Clark to try to outwit him or trick him so that she can turn in a hot news story before he can. And, from the first time she is rescued by Superman on she is obsessed with finding out more about him (and is also wildly infatuated with him).
These are fun stories, if at times a bit crude looking and clearly a product of their time (the Great Depression of the late 1930s, just prior to the start of World War II). Many of the stories are morality plays showing the corrupt or socially oblivious wealthy/high class individuals or powerful businessmen on one side and the poor oppressed members of the lower class suffering on the other. Superman, of course, always steps in to defend the latter.
These stories are mostly self contained done-in-one tales and can be a bit repetitive and predictable (as with most continuing comic book and newspaper comic strips characters of the “golden age”). There is one interesting recurring villain that first appears in Action Comics #13 (June 1939) and then continues to pop up several times after that: the Ultra-Humanite. In his first stories, “Ultra” is a bald and crippled elderly man in a wheelchair, a super genius (similar to Lex Luthor, who comes along later on in Action Comics #23 (April 1940)). Then, after a few appearances, the Ultra-Humanite seemingly is killed, only to return a story or two later with his mind having been transferred into the body of a beautiful Hollywood starlet (who again is seemingly killed at the end of the story).
By the end of the first year, Superman is gradually starting to soften as a character and so is the overall tone of the stories, most likely due to the success of the character and, especially, his becoming a newspaper comic strip only a few months into this first year.
As successful as his comic books were (the monthly Action Comics soon joined by the quarterly Superman comic book series and also a regularly appearing Superman story in World’s Best/World’s Finest Comics starting in 1941), so many more readers both young and old were now reading his daily adventures in their local city newspapers.
As with other characters that suddenly became very popular, Superman would gradually change from the rough-and-tumble social champion of the people into the more conservative, law abiding superhero whose goal is still to rescue those in need and to stop and bring to justice evil doers, but in not so reckless a fashion as in these first stories.
All of these stories were credited entirely to Jerry Siegel (writer) and Joe Shuster (artist). Shuster, however, was already having problems with his eye sight even before starting on the Superman stories in Action Comics, and soon had other artists assisting him on backgrounds, inks, and even much of the figure work, all working for Siegel and Shuster as “ghost artists” (uncredited). Paul Cassidy did much of the newspaper comic strip art from this period, as well as all but the faces (which were still being drawn in ink by Shuster) in the comic books starting around Action Comics #11.
I highly recommend anyone to read some of these very early Superman comic book and newspaper comic strip stories. The best choice for someone starting fresh today would probably be with the Superman: The Golden Age trade paperback series.
(And from the comments I added at the bottom...)
I also checked out from the public library for comparison’s sake:
Superman Chronicles Volume 1 (which reprints, in original release order, the Superman stories in Action Comics #1-13, New York World’s Fair Comics #1 (1939), and Superman #1)
Superman: The Golden Age Volume 1 (which reprints, in original release order, the Superman stories in Action Comics #1-19, New York World’s Fair Comics #1 (1939), and Superman #1-3)
(Note: This is probably the best choice for most people who might like to buy these stories at this time as in it you get a nice thick paperback collection for a decent price, the stories all in the original release order.
The Chronicles do the same but are quite a bit shorter (so fewer stories per volume), and the last Superman Chronicles book DC released was volume ten in 2012.
The “Golden Age” trades have gone well past where the Chronicles left off.)
There are also the Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus series which are quite popular with many diehard vintage comics fans as they are oversized (taller/larger pages) hardcover collections that typically contain three times the amount of stories as an average DC Archive volume (around 500+ pages). However, they are much more expensive per volume, with cover prices usually of over $100 each.)
(* probably confusing but necessary notes about the Superman DC Archives volumes: the Superman stories in Action Comics #2-6 were also included in Superman #1 and #3, and DC, when publishing the Archives, decided not to reprint these stories twice, so, if you have the Archives and wish to read the stories in the original release order, you have to jump from Superman: The Action Comics Archives Volume 1 for Action Comics #1 to Superman Archives Volume 1 for Action Comics #2-6, and then back again to Action Comics Archives Volume 1 again for Action Comics #7-20.)
(In actuality, if you have Superman Archives Volume 1 (reprinting Superman #1-4), then you have the Superman stories from the first *six* issues of Action Comics, as Superman #1 also included an expanded version of the very first Superman story from Action Comics #1, too, including the first part of the story that was not published in Action Comics #1 for space reasons. The version of the Action Comics story in Superman: The Action Comics Archives Volume 1 is the partial version that actually ran in that first published appearance of Superman.)
Peter F Hamilton.
Makes Trek look utterly unambitious.
Finished "The Shadow Commission". Good novel, although I am not really a fan of the end battle.
Tonight I will start with "full dark no stars" by Stephen King
When Jesus Became God, by Richard Rubenstein, a history of the Arian Controversy in the 4th century CE. It was part of a Christmas sale for the Kindle, so why not.
I grew up Methodist, and I can't say I grew up with much of a grounding in Christian theology. Indeed, it wasn't until I read Karen Armstrong's A History of God in college, almost thirty years ago, that I had any idea of how Christian thought developed. One incident from Armstrong's book that intrigued me instantly was the conflict between Athanasius (eventually bishop of Alexandria) and Arius (an Alexandrian presbyter) over the relationship between God and Jesus. Clearly, it was momentous, since Armstrong wrote excitedly about it, but it was also all very theoretically and obscure and depended on Greek words that I didn't understand.
Rubenstein's book takes the few pages of Armstrong and expands that to about 250, giving more context to a religious dispute in the eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Palestine, Egypt) set against the political backdrop of the reigns of Constantine and his successors.
The basic issue -- what was Jesus? Was he created or eternal? Was he different from God or the same? A theological debate became a problem for the Roman Empire when Alexandria, the empire's largest city and an important port for the empire's granaries, kept breaking down into anarchy over the issue and rival bishops kept excommunicating each other. And so, over the next forty years, at councils in the eastern empire and the western empire, with the writing of rival creeds, with excommunications and pardons and anathemas and even a revival of Greek paganism, the Christians and the imperial throne tried to work it out.
A couple of takeaways:
Athanasius may be venerated as a saint, but as a person he was anything but.
The theological difference was trivial (which is why Gregory of Nyssa's eventual solution basically bridged the two by bringing in the Holy Spirit), and it only seemed so inflammatory because 4th century bishops were flexing their political power and the difference in opinion gave them a cudgel to use on their opponents.
Rubenstein's conclusion characterizes Arianism as a kind of proto-Pelagianism (without actually using the term -- essentially, Arianism and Pelagianism treat Jesus as an aspirational figure for people to strive to imitate), and, if true, it makes sense why the eastern Church, rooted in Greek language and philosophy, had no problems with Pelagius' theology, because it fit with their natural, philosophical inclinations, and dismissed Augustine's theology five decades later.
Rubenstein connects the historical veneration of Mary and the saints to the fading away of the Arian view of Christ in the west. Arius' Jesus could be an intercessor between man and God because he wasn't identical with God. The Nicene Jesus became as remote as God, and thus intercession of saints was needed between man and the Trinity.
I wish Rubenstein had taken another page or two to expand upon his brief reference to Islam, because in one or two sentences he sketches a line from Arian Christology through Chalcedonian Christology to Islamic Christology.
Overall, it was an interesting book. Surprisingly gripping.
Finished THE CITY OF BRASS. Onto book 2 of the trilogy: THE KINGDOM OF COPPER.
22 – TWELVE ANGELS WEEPING by David RuddenAn anthology of Dr Who stories ostensibly themed around Xmas, but actually most of the stories mention a festive season barely or not at all. As you might expect from an anthology there’s quite a range styles and also of quality. Some of the stories get the characters and monsters spot on, such as Twelve in the first story [though not the Angels who at one point move while watched], or Vastra and Strax, while others… don’t. [Hello Leela who speaks with normal contractions, and Four who just talks like a normal bloke, in the Sycorax/Ice Warrior story].
Most of the stories have a less than subtle, but well phrased theme, and a thoroughly predictable, usually downbeat, end twist. However, totally worth it for some of the POVs such as the Cyberman and Vastra, and some of the narrations, such as the tradtitional noir private eye, and the Sontaran eduation machine which is so totally written in Dan Starkey’s voice…
Nothing amazing, nothing awful, light and generally pleasant entertainment in easily digestible bursts.
Sadly didn’t quite make a full 24 as I’d hoped,though I did read more than 22 books overall, but the others were more work related and research, so don’t count in this recreational reading annual log. For example, 22 would have been A Christmas Carol, which I often read in December, until I remembered it was for work reference this time, and so Twelve Angels Weeping moved from 23 to 22. Oh well, it’s better than the 8 or so that I ended up with last year. The cancellations and lockdowns helped with that, but the sitting around raised my HBA1C number so I hope there’s a happy medium to be found somewhere in 2021..
@Lonemagpie what's an HBA1C number?
Separate names with a comma.