Saturday, April 22, 2017

Injustice Book Review: Spinal Tap Edition

Cower not, fierce reader! Today I'm going to approach our text a little differently than normal. For those perhaps unaware, or just wanting to refresh their knowledge of what this review will entail, I present this scene of cinematic history:

You might ask yourself, "What on Earth did our host read to prompt such reviews?" The answer is simple. I took one for the cause of Injustice, for I knew I must give a fair try to one of the most SocJus authors there is: John Scalzi and his book, The Collapsing Empire. First, the fun reviews, then something a  bit more serious.

The Collapsing Empire: The Collapsing Career

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi is a morass of retarded sexual obsession and sycophantic virtue signalling, matched only by the lack of anything resembling a compelling story.

The Collapsing Empire: As a substitute for firewood, it is functional but overpriced. I recommend continuing the use of L. Ron Hubbard novels until such time as the price has imploded.

It's good to know that Wil Wheaton is the reader for this. The pairing makes a perfect addition to the Guantanamo Bay prisoners' soundtrack.

Tor has a copyeditor. Who knew? Not Sanderson readers.

Now, more seriously.

If this book were half as good as the SocJus forces state, I would not have needed most of a week to get through 300 some pages. From the Scooby Doo opening to the lazy finish, this book is dissatisfying, and quite often painful. The ships are given creepy song based names. The major nobility of this space opera are merely virtue signalling to Brianna Wu and N K Jemisin, with large amounts of sexual obsession. The "cathedral" in this thing claiming to be a book has no loft for musicians, as though it were designed by someone who had never stepped into a church with an organ loft, and the accompanying balcony for musicians. This author also denies the existence of truth, and the draw of religion being repentance.(He claims people want to be coddled spiritually rather than called to repent. See mainline Protestantism for refutation.)

There's a narrator infodump; by that I mean the narrator actively inserts itself to provide the information. Never have I beheld such poorly written and ham-handed delivery of complex information supposedly crucial to the plot.Unfortunately, I can count  the times this book made me laugh: 1.  While Tor proved quite definitively that they have a working copyeditor(I didn't find any misspellings or homophone errors), John Scalzi has yet to prove to me he can write out of a paper bag.  For the laugh, I generously grant this book 2 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

More branding.

Dawn Witzke has allowed us the pleasure of another design, using the end tagline. I'm only putting this in villain colors, since they're going to paint you as the bad guy anyway.

Two quick notes: 1. Wash these inside out, the white will wear quickly in the wash. 2. Per tall sizes, I looked and couldn't find a POD shirt company with tall sizes reliably available. That said, if cryptofashion decides they want these, I'll gladly partner with them(doubtful, but I can hope). Tall sizes are an add on there, and they special order those, as they aren't regular stock.

Oh yeah, here's the shirt:

Yep. Pretty cool. More soon, also.

You know what? Just read the shirts. They got it covered.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pulp Comics: The Rocketeer

Fierce readers, when you want pulp characters in comics, the biggest names came straight out of the pulp era: The Shadow, Doc Savage, Tarzan, Conan, and more. The Rocketeer fits right in there with them, despite coming into existence far later. I am not talking about the Rocketeer movie by Disney, though that is a fine take on the character that is a pretty good adaptation, though some changes were made to enlarge the audience and appeal of the story.

For the curious, I'm strictly concerning myself with the original works by the creator, Dave Stevens. There are quite a few more recent works published by IDW and other artists and writers; what I've read was pretty good, but it's not Dave Stevens work.

This is going to be SPOILER HEAVY!

Our hero has lady troubles. He's a pilot in a flying circus scraping by, and his girlfriend Betty is an "actress" getting attention from a Hollywood photographer. The photographer, Marco of Hollywood, is a real piece of scum. Can't really blame anyone for looking, though. She's, um .... let me find my words...


Anyway, some Nazis try to steal his plane, and have left the prototype pack in it. He of course, starts finding trouble right after using to save a friend. Like I said, the movie adaptation is pretty good.

So yeah, we've got Nazis, government spies, the most storied recluse millionaire there is, and little Cliff Secord trying to save the day so he can get the dough to feel like he can keep his girl.

Mr. Stevens only finished two short story arcs, though, and the second ties this far more to the world of the pulps. Betty is on a plane to catch a boat to Europe with Marco, and Cliff is trying to catch up to her to get her back.

Once he gets to New York, he gets a job offer from an old buddy who helps him find Betty. Then, of course Cliff confronts her, his jealousy foremost in his mind right now. After a brawl interrupted by a very obvious tribute to the Shadow, that skirts the edge very closely, but there's never any use of hypnosis, black outfit, the laugh, etc.

Cliff's broke, so he takes a job for our "Jonas" that involves some carnival workers that Cliff used to work with being killed. Yeah, we've got a nice little Shadow short filled with danger, death, and revenge. Cliff heads back, but before he gets home:


Now, since then, there's been a myriad of crossovers and a good amount of other stories. He's worked with Captain America, Batman, The Spirit, and more. The costume is popular as crazy for some cosplayers, though it's not as Cliff, but as Betty wearing the outfit.(not in Steven's work, by the way).

In other news, try to keep an eye out for a special anniversary Injustice Book Review later this week.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Injustice Quick Reviews 2.5

Cower not, fierce reader! After delays of pain, I am pleased to bring to you another collection of fine works to trigger the forces of SocJus.  Let us proceed to these works, and the charges affiliated therewith! (All titles are Amazon links.)

Fade by Daniel Humphreys-  Mr. Humphreys takes a swing into the Urban Fantasy milieu, and we largely succeeds. We have good, evil, and mysticism in full force. Also, secret organizations that pretend to government alliance.Major crime: We've got self sacrifice, we've got a hero that isn't arrogant, we've got vulnerable characters. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

Schrodinger's Gat by Robert Kroese-  If you're expecting another comic sff story from the guy that might just be the funniest man in sff, forget it. This book is dead serious, and delves into physics, philosophy, and metaphysics, all with a touch of what might be noir. Major crime: The idea that there are things we shouldn't know. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

Wizard of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs- This last tale of Carson of Venus was published posthumously, and is still under copyright, and thus not available in ebook as of this writing. There's a companion story, Pirate Blood, that I'll read and review later.  This short work is honestly better than the previous entry in the series, and is very satisfying to boot. Major crime: A hero that limits himself to only doing good with his extraordinary abilities, and knows what good is. 9 of 10 fell deeds.

'Til Death: The Man Who Balked by Jason Anspach- We've got a protection gig for our hero at the beginning of the integration of baseball, taking place in the rough and tumble minor leagues. There's action aside from the baseball for those of us less into that, but the history this is tied to makes for a great read. Major crime: The race relations are one aspect(a real thing at the time of this story), and the commie manipulation of such another. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

The Coconut Swindle by Matt Abraham-  Like I was going to not read this after the magnificent opening. This book is a prequel, rather than a sequel, and I'm ok with this. The Mike Hammer books jumped around a lot too, so it's playing a bit to type. This is Dane Curse's first solo case, and he's in over his head for awhile. When everything clears, he's got his motivation to be a force for justice, if not law and order. Major crime: The hero loses a lot to gain a little. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Regarding the early pages of Alt-Hero

Earlier today, Vox Day showed us two early pages of  what looks to be Castalia House's first entry into comics, depending on the timeframe of the Quantum Mortis adaptation. Now, I know that Vox isn't into the medium himself, and a lot of the VP commenters are cheerleading this(especially ones that don't read comics), so I felt it appropriate to write up some thoughts.

1. It might be self limiting. One of my concerns with a hero book of this type(most of them, really), is that there's only so many stories one can tell with them. I'm not saying this is bad. If this goes for a 12 issue equivalent, is done well and improves along the way, and doesn't go on pointlessly, then GREAT. Complete stories are better in many ways. It could also provide a stepping stone to a comics universe.

Really, my point is, I don't want to see the same story 38 times(# chosen randomly). I don't care if they have a new villain each time. Tell the story, and leave. At least for a bit. Come back when there's a good new story. 

2. The art is ok. That's about it. It's not my favorite by any means, and most of the books I've seen with a similar style are targeting a YA non-hero audience. Again, not a negative, just an observation. The layouts are PLAIN as all get out, and that, again is not necessarily a negative, but it is an indicator of  a need for input from people that know the medium.

I do know I would like the art style better in a cartoon than in comics. Why?  When I'm reading, I can take time to really look at the art. Cartoons work at the pace of playback.  And I'm far more willing to forgive a plain background panel if there's say, Hal Foster level detail elsewhere(see Prince Valiant). That's not present here, and I don't know how fast this was churned out.

3. Vox likely should acquaint himself with some of the aspects of comic book theory. I'm not talking art here, at least wholly, but scripting things that allows comic readers to fill in holes effectively, among other things. I would recommend to him and his artist Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, and possibly Making Comics as well. Yes, McCloud is a liberal; he also is pretty much unparalleled in his understanding of the structure of comics, how they accomplish things, and how they work differently than text or film.

I'd also recommend some Will Eisner and Jim Steranko for the artist. Eisner drew people amazingly, and Steranko's Nick Fury books had more creativity sometimes in one page than most modern books in totality.

4. It's a start. To an extent, I understand Vox's desire to succeed at this himself first. But, there's plenty of writers he could be reaching out to: Chuck Dixon, Doug TenNapel, and yes, even Jon Del Arroz come to mind for a start. This is without touching adaptations of existing CH books(Moth and Cobweb and the Ames Archives, please!), and are good creatively with some record of success already in the medium.

Honestly, I'm more interested in the long-term prospects(new Earthworm Jim?) than Vox's initial push. Oh, I'll buy it, don't get me wrong, but I think it's also a weaker opening than he could make. Of course, if he can succeed in a field Tor failed(and screwed the creators), that's another aspect of this.

5. Format. I know the biggest reason for digital is that all of CH stuff is digital first. My opinion is that comics on reader programs aren't nearly as good as a physical copy, for a few reasons. If you need to zoom in to read a panel, the flow is gone(and some of the medium's trick disappear, though new ones can show up). The amount of space comics take up is HUGE comparatively.  As to the physical versions, it's sounding like he's thinking of the equivalent of softcover being a trade collection, and the hardcovers being what DC calls the Deluxe edition(2-3 trad volumes).

Again, I am looking forward to this project. But it's the long term implications that I'm excited about.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Music Blog: Glisten

Well,  I've had some tiring days at work, after the days of fun controversy. Have some Rock:

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dune: Misunderstandings, and Rebutting the Father

So, Rick Stump has come out and commented on my response to his son Alex's review of Dune on the Castalia House blog. I'll get to that in a moment, but first I NEED to clear something up, for the benefit of anyone new here:

The last line of my post, "When you play Social Justice, the world loses." was not directed at Alex or his opinions. It's a TAGLINE, you know, branding. It's at the end of my posts with the only exceptions being a music blog here and there. It feels out of place there, but also feels weird leaving it off. Go ahead, check my book reviews, check my comics posts. Pick a post. It's there. It's at the end of this post, because it's branding. My book reviews also open with "Cower not, fierce reader!", since I came up with the phrase.

I don't blame anyone for not being familiar with my phrases. I'm a minor blogger, though my audience is growing, and Ive gained both the friendship and respect of a few authors. I'm also not part of the OSR community, though I have read a couple of posts of Rick's prior to this.

Now, also:

I didn't know Alex was a minor. Doesn't make me change my post. It does make me want to congratulate him for writing something that demanded response. I am up for friendly arguments, my post was not made in enmity, though I get the impression that Rick's was. I am willing to argue with an understanding of friendship, though, and will try to do so here.

He called my post objectively bad, and his first bit of evidence is that I stated Alex's review displayed antipathy. Allow me to quote his son: "SCREW THIS BOOK!!!" .  Am I objectively wrong in declaring that to be a statement of antipathy? His son's review concentrates far more on what he perceives to be bad than any of what he considers good.

In fact, I'm guessing that Alex talked to his father far more than he wrote about what he liked of the book, if indeed he is neutral to it. I'm not projecting, I'm looking at the fact that over 2/3rds of the review is spent bashing the book, even gleefully. Rick, your son nowhere stated in his review that Dune "sucked him in". In fact he stated, "The first three chapters were good, uhh…yeah that’s all I like about DUNE, everything else sucks.". Reads like antipathy to me.

As to my possibly incorrect recollection on the effects of melange, I can only blame the years. That said, Navigators don't see the future, they see across space, and gain the ability to fold space, and calculate the folding safely.

If your son did not intend his comments on the "man vs machine" trope or the Bene Geserrit to be negative, then why are they clearly in the section of his review titled the bad and the cheesy? Like with your son, I come to believe we are reading different texts entirely.

He then goes into personal attacks on me for warning his son off Somewhither if Dune was painfully long, attacking my manhood, instead of merely saying my argument was invalid. Then goes on to say that Chick Tracts are "painfully long". No sir, they are painfully bad theology.

Rick then complains that I missed a point about Suk conditioning and the loyalty it confers to employers. Does Mr. Stump deny that being a father is a job? I submit that being a husband is a more important position for Dr. Yueh.

Rick then goes after the fact that I substituted the word Arabs for his son's use of Palestinians, based on the political realities of the 60's. Then, of course, he goes on to completely ignore my positing that the Fremen are instead the Jews, specifically the zealots of the time of Christ, hiding from the occupying empire and searching for the Messiah. If you're going to call my essay bad, address my counterpoints as well, please. Or are you afraid I might be right?

As to the not understanding stoicism, the stoics would demand a limited mourning, as does the Fremen life. It possesses a harsh code, and tears would waste water. Though I freely admit it has been many years since my reading.

Mr. Stump even goes so far as to insult me with the label trufan. Sir, those things inhabit File770, a place I deign to dip into only to get material to tear apart. If I had meant enmity with your son, whom I had no way of knowing was a minor, I would have truly torn into him. Check on my response to the Publisher's Weekly review of Beyond the Mist. THAT is objectively bad. And why are YOU the one responding? Your son entered the arena at Castalia House, and he should be responding in kind, not you.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.