So What Are you Reading?: Generations

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by captcalhoun, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Right up there with "In a hole in the ground lived a Hobbit," and "The Flinx was an ethical thief, in that he only stole from the crooked." Or "It's hard to be a larva."

    Chervania!
     
    Greg Cox likes this.
  2. youngtrek

    youngtrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 26, 2020
    Location:
    Brandon, Florida
    Last week I finished reading Fantastic Four: Antithesis Treasury Edition (2021). Reprinting Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1-4 (October 2020-January 2021). Writer, Mark Waid and penciler, Neal Adams (credited together as “Storytellers”). Inker, Mark Farmer. Color artists, Laura Martin with Andrew Crossley. Letterer, “VC’s Joe Carramanga”.

    I have to say that I ended up really enjoying this one. Aside from a few really oddly drawn depictions of Ben Grimm (the Thing)—I think Adams was trying to show Grimm’s emotions through exaggerated facial expressions, as is per Adams’ usual style, but Grimm’s rocky exterior makes that very difficult—this is a beautifully drawn book.

    Now, I should say that this is clearly “later Adams” (the style he had developed into and used on all of his projects from Batman: Odyssey (2010-2012) onwards. Hyper detailed. Hard lined figure outlines. Exaggerated facial expressions. Some long time Adams fans dislike this change (or development) of Adams’ style, so they might also not like it here.

    However, I felt it was perfect for a story of this scope (and especially in this larger “treasury” sized format. Adams page layouts are dynamic, much of the story taking place in outer space or in the “Negative Zone”, and the characters all benefit from the larger page size (especially “cosmic” alien characters like the heroic and noble Silver Surfer, creepy/scary Annihilus, gigantic Galactus, and the new villain character here, Antithesis).

    The story is a pretty standard but sufficient one to warrant the Neal Adams visual fireworks. Gateways begin to open between Earth and the Negative Zone, allowing Annihilus to attack at the start of the story. The Fantastic Four successfully repel his attack and send him back to the Negative Zone but then discover (from the Silver Surfer, who crash lands on Earth, injured) that a new threat, Antithesis, has seemingly destroyed the Surfer’s master, Galactus, and threatens the Earth next.

    (One thing I’m not too sure of is the actual timing of when this story is supposed to take place. The Silver Surfer is still (or again) serving as Galactus’s herald and guide during this story. Yet Reed and Sue’s daughter, Valeria, is very young, not yet speaking. I’m not familiar enough with Fantastic Four continuity to know if those two things line up, or if it doesn’t even matter if Waid and Adams maybe considered this story to be out of the established continuity all together?)

    As someone who has read all of Neal Adams’ material, I think, from Batman: Odyssey through this and Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul (Antithesis and Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul being the last two things he did prior to his death in April 2022), I can say that while I enjoyed much of Adams *art* in pretty much all of those stories (which also included The First X-Men (2012-2013), Superman: The Coming of the Supermen (2016), and Deadman (2018)), I think I enjoyed Antithesis more than any of the others (which is saying a lot coming from a big DC guy like me). And I attribute this to Mark Waid’s involvement in the writing of it.

    Yes, Neal Adams’ renditions of his classic DC characters like Batman, Superman, and Deadman will always *look* awesome. However, Adams’ plots (and especially his dialogue and characterizations) when he was both writing and drawing, as he was in all of these except for Antithesis and scripting assistance from Christos Gage on The First X-Men, were often quite, well, wacky at best, head-scratchingly bad at others. So much so that his final Batman stories are widely criticized as being nonsensical and difficult for longtime readers to get through.

    Waid is very familiar with the characters of the Fantastic Four as he wrote their regular monthly title from 2002 to 2005. Therefore his (presumably) plot and dialogue here keep this story a quintessential Fantastic Four adventure and the characters all their familiar selves. (For Adams, this is the first time he ever drew a full length Fantastic Four story or for anything more than a quick cameo. But his Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and Johnny Storm are all excellent here, as is his Ben Grimm except for the aforementioned odd facial expressions here and there.

    This “Treasury Edition” reprint collection (which, for those not familiar with treasury or tabloid sized comic books, measures at 8.75” x 13.3”) also includes two bonus stories from the Marvel archives, the first drawn by Neal Adams, a classic February 1970 X-Men issue (#65) written by Denny O’Neil and inked by Tom Palmer). And, second, the first issue of Mark Waid’s 2002-2005 Fantastic Four run (#60 [#489], October 2002), penciled by the late great Mike Wieringo and inked by Karl Kesel. Both good choices to bring back in the treasury sized format.

    Another trade paperback reprint collection of Fantastic Four: Antithesis is due out in January 2023. This will be in the more standard comic book size/format and will, presumably, only include the Antithesis mini-series (not the two bonus stories).

    Again, I really liked the Fantastic Four: Antithesis Treasury Edition. I gave it four out of five stars on GoodReads.

    — David Young
     
    Smiley likes this.
  3. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Finished Second Self. Loved it. Interesting structure, kind of V-shaped, across the 5 parts, moving downtime and then uptime. Much more to my taste than the unmitigated tragedy of the author's PIC prequel, Last Best Hope. If that was the Una McCormack opus I'm least likely to want to re-read, this is the one I'm most likely to.
     
  4. youngtrek

    youngtrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 26, 2020
    Location:
    Brandon, Florida
    Also recently finished reading: The Orville: Sympathy for the Devil (2022) by Seth McFarlane (creator, show runner, and star of The Orville television series) is a novella McFarlane wrote based on an unused script or story idea from the third (and possibly final) season of the television series.

    Plot spoilers… I had a hard time deciding how I felt about this novella and how to end up rating it. This is because it is very much like two separate yet interlinked stories, and while interesting both had something pulling it back from being really good.

    The first half of the novella takes place from 1914 to sometime in World War II (1939-1945) and follows a young German named Otto who is dropped off as an infant at a posh New York City hotel by a mysterious couple. The baby is given to a German couple staying in the hotel who then returns to Germany. Otto, as he grows up, becomes enamored with the rising Nazi party, much to the concern of his Jewish adopted father and mother, and eventually rises to a position of some authority himself, given command over one of the Jewish concentration camps. Over the course of his life, Otto chooses the Nazi ideology over all else, including his own parents.

    Which is a very compelling story, yet the entire time I kept wondering at what point this would become an Orville story?

    Well, that happens at the midway point, when two new figures enter the story, Ed Mercer and Kelly Grayson, supposedly representatives of the American Red Cross there to inspect the camp. Otto tries to make it look like the camp is a positive and nourishing environment for those Jews living there (covering up the atrocities actually taking place there). Things go wrong, however, and in the middle of a tense scene, Mercer ends the simulation.

    At which point, the reader discovers that, no, this isn’t a time travel story, this is a virtual simulator (in Star Trek, it would be a holodeck) story. The twist here is that Otto’s parents had been enjoying the simulator, in the 1914 New York City simulation, along with baby Otto when their facility was attacked by Krill soldiers. Giving themselves up, Otto’s parents turned Otto over to the characters in the simulation hoping that the Krill will look no further and just take the two of them, which they did. Otto then was raised from infancy to adulthood within the continuing to operate simulator which continued to simulate Germany of the early to mid twentieth century.

    At this point the novella becomes an Orville story, and focuses on Dr. Claire Finn trying to counsel the traumatized Otto to make him understand the truth, that his life up to this point (including his wife and child) aren’t real, and to try to get through Otto’s entrenched Nazi beliefs in regards to race, that those racist beliefs are wrong and anachronistic now in 2422, the year The Orville takes place in.

    Meanwhile, Captain Ed Mercer and his superiors have to decide what will ultimately become of Otto (a 20th Century Nazi officer living in normal, everyday 2422 society?), and if a man can be held accountable for evil actions he carried out while on a simulator (while not realizing that he is in one but instead believes everything he is doing is real).

    It is an interesting twist on the usual holodeck/simulator gone awry storyline. And as with a lot of The Orville stories does present a bit of a moral dilemma.

    However, my problems with this as a novella (making it “okay” rather than “really good” or “great”) is that once it becomes an Orville story it really doesn’t do a very good job in that transition. This is the very first Orville prose tie-in. McFarlane does try to give quick character background moments to all of the major characters, but there really isn’t much room for more than cursory descriptions. Suddenly the story is now about Dr. Finn, a character we are just “meeting” halfway through the novella, trying to help Otto. And, also, suddenly we are jumping from Otto to Claire to Ed Mercer, and back, when for the entire first half of the novella our focus was entirely on Otto.

    It just makes for a disjointed reading experience, and it also does not feature most of the Orville characters as much as one would hope (although there is a nice little moment at the very end where it jumps even further into the future).

    I think this would have made for a very interesting episode of the tv show, where sudden switches from one setting to another with little necessary transition can happen easier than in prose, and where it is not necessary to spend time introducing the usual cast of characters when they show up for the first time halfway through the episode.

    I know it sounds like I didn’t like this. I actually did. I think I was just hoping as I was reading the first half of Sympathy for the Devil that there was some big time travel reason for spending so much reading time on Otto in Germany, and that when I realized it was a simulator story instead then it made the rest of the story a bit predictable (while at the same time not the best showcase for the regular Orville characters aside from Dr. Finn).

    As an Orville fan, I still am glad that I bought this novella and read it. I ended up giving it three out of five stars on GoodReads, although I probably would have given it a three and a half if half-stars were allowed.

    — David Young
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I liked Sympathy for the Devil. It came up with a very clever twist on the holodeck story, one that wasn't about a cheesy technical malfunction but that was more of a Twilight Zone-style angle, a startling and unexpected ramification of the technology, creating an ethically and philosophically challening situation. MacFarlane's prose style was pretty good for a first-timer, too. I've never liked his comedy, so I've been surprised in watching The Orville to discover what a good dramatic writer he is, with a knack for clever and thoughtful phrasing.

    I did feel the ending was kind of weak; it didn't even really have a definite climax. But I'm not sure one would've been plausible in that situation.
     
    youngtrek likes this.
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Lancaster, PA
    Just picked up a novelization of THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE. Who knew such an item existed?
     
  7. indianatrekker26

    indianatrekker26 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2006
    i'm currently on Star Trek Picard: Second Self by Una McCormack. Really really good so far.
     
    Reanok and hbquikcomjamesl like this.
  8. John Clark

    John Clark Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Location:
    There
    Started on Echoes of Eternity by Aaron Dembski-Bowdon.
     
  9. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Just got through the introduction to the Signet Classics TPB edition of The War of the Worlds. Hmm. You mean, it wasn't Grovers Mill, NJ, in the original novel? :lol:
     
  10. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    A few chapters into WotW. Short chapters. And I now know why Orson Welles (or at least the TV-movie version of him) needed the sound of a jar lid being unscrewed inside a toilet bowl.
     
  11. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    It's so good, isn't it? Wells was on fire in the 1890s.
     
  12. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    This morning, I just learned that The Night that Panicked America, the 1975 TV movie about the Orson Welles radio play of WotW, is available on DVD. $20 + shipping from Amazon and BestBuy; $22.49 from B&N.

    That shouldn't have surprised me, given that some years ago, I was able to get another made-for-TV movie, the shoestring-budget A Christmas Without Snow, on DVD (Michael Learned, John Houseman, Ed Bogas, and a young James Cromwell, in a story in which the organist saves the day).
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Which has Trek connections, since Nicholas Meyer co-wrote it and Joseph Sargent ("The Corbomite Maneuver") directed it. Also, Cliff DeYoung (DS9: "Vortex") is in the cast.
     
    Greg Cox likes this.
  14. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I noticed Meyer and Sargent myself, when looking it up.

    So does the other TV-movie I cited, A Christmas Without Snow: a much younger James ("aged Zefram Cochrane") Cromwell as the rector of an Episcopal church, who is the father of a very messed-up teenager who commits an act of vandalism that is crucial to the plot.
    (The whole reason I remembered that one, and bothered to track down and buy the DVD, was that the one who saves the day, rather against stereotype, is the organist. A Jewish organist, whose appearance and personality break every "organist" stereotype, who plays for an Episcopal church. I really like characters who thumb their noses at stereotypes.)
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    There are "organist" stereotypes?
     
  16. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Who do you see in movies, playing the organ? Vampires. Mad scientists. Disfigured sociopathic hermits living in the bowels of opera houses. Or if not the "big bad" of the piece, then either an old man, an old woman (who's probably the sort of stock character upon which Maudie Prickett and Margaret Hamilton built their careers), or a bored housewife. Probably, other than Ed Bogas in A Christmas Without Snow, I'd say the the least-negative-stereotype organist I've seen in any movie was probably Bryan O'Byrne in Spaceballs. You don't usually see a 38-year-old Ed Bogas playing what I have at times described as a "Gregory Harrison type" as the organist. You never (at least to my knowledge) see Geena Davis as a church organist, even though she has actually been one in real life.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Well, there was Terry Jones's naked organist in season 3 of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
     
  18. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Oh, and I almost forgot how even Disney got into the act, with Forte, from the direct-to-video Christmas-themed sequel, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.

    Probably the only Disney film I've seen, that I wish I could un-see.

    But back to WotW, I've gotten through the two "heat ray" chapters. Remarkable how Wells managed to anticipate the carbon dioxide laser.

    ******
    Now I've passed the debut of the "black smoke."

    As Rev'd Johnson (from Blazing Saddles) would say, "Crops burned, stores looted, people stampeded." No word on whether any cattle were raped.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2022
  19. Smiley

    Smiley Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Location:
    Chandler, AZ
    I finished Star Trek: Revenant by Alex White. This was well worth the read, and it stands with The Lives of Dax and Trill: Unjoined for a book featuring the Trill.

    I'm celebrating the 60th anniversary of the James Bond films by reading some of the nonfiction about the character. The one I want to highlight here is The Many Lives of James Bond by Mark Edlitz. It's got interviews with people you would want to hear from like Martin Campbell and Roger Moore, but it also features people associated with the video games, continuation novels, comics, newspaper strips, and radio plays. I'm learning quite a bit that I have not seen in previous books, interviews, and bonus features, and I recommend the book to anyone who wants to read about the James Bond character and history.
     
  20. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    Maine
    This sounded intriguing, so I requested it from the library and spent today reading it. Good fun.

    Other recent reading has included THE ORACLE OF MARACOOR by Gregory Maguire and THE WOMEN COULD FLY by Megan Giddings.
     
    Greg Cox likes this.