Sunday, December 31, 2006
Title: THE NIGHTLY NEWS #1 (of 6)
Author: JONATHAN HICKMAN
The first issue of Jonathan Hickman's 6 part comic serial is online at newsrama - http://www.newsarama.com/ImageComics/NightlyNews/01/TNN01_full.html. A particularly striking new piece of work, and well worth reading!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Author: Tricia Sullivan
It is 1984 and Cookie works for a secret agency. She is psychic, like her mother, she has helped the police and is now helping on an alien planet. At least that’s what she believes. The Grid is a morphing mutating structure, which fights a constant battle against the human troops who land there. It takes the bodies of the dead, reanimates them zombie style, and throws them back at the humans. Because of the male tendency to kill too easily, the troops are now all women, and once the next wave is in place, the troops will be all machines. Gossamer is a flyer, an alien creature, part of the grid, which has been reengineered to allow Cookie to fly it and gather information for the troops. Between shifts Cookie reads fantasy novels and practices martial arts with dedication - determined to lose weight in the process.
Things keeping getting worse for the soldiers in the war against the Grid. The whole thing has started affecting Cookie, she has stopped eating, fears that she might be going mad. And all her bosses are interested is the product lists the soldiers talked about.
Tricia Sullivan's novel Double Vision switches back and forth between its double narratives, though quite where it is going in the process isn't something I felt particularly clear on. For me Double Vision feels muddy and not very engaging. I just couldn't get into the characters or the setting. Having been pointed towards the hispter erotica website about the time I was reading Double Vision, I couldn't help but see parallels - the constant cultural references felt like they reached saturation. There is a pop culture here, which might mean something to an American of a certain age, but meant nothing to me - the music, the books, the food - all kind of alien.
Double Vision is the fourth novel by Sullivan that I have read - following on from Maul, Dreaming In Smoke and Someone to Watch Over Me. All of which I enjoyed a lot. So I was pretty disappointed to find that I just didn't get into Double Vision. Fortunately I still have the earlier novel Lethe in my "to read" pile, and I hope that it will do more for me.
Author: Orhan Pamuk
Publisher: faber and faber
Ka has had enough poems published in his native Turkey that some people at least have heard of him. However that also brought him to the attention of some that he would rather than not have been acknowledged by. He got the blame for something he didn't do, and the politics of Turkey at the time were such that he felt that it made more sense to leave the country than protest his innocence. This started 12 years living as an exile in Frankfurt.
Returning to his home country for the first time in all those years he finds it changed, it is not the romantic vision he retains in his head. However when a journalist friend offers him a chance to go to a remote town he thinks that he might find what he is looking for there. The fact that the beautiful Ipek that he recalls from university lives there and is now divorced also gives him the idea that he might be able to find love at last.
However it isn't as simple as turning up in the town of Kars to have everything fall into place. Especially when the reason he is being sent there is because of a number of suicides by school girls who refused to remove their headscarves, and the resulting assassination of the town's mayor. It is snowing when Ka arrives in Kars, and the roads are quickly blocked - Ka is stuck in town on the run up to a politically charged election. Within no time at all the education minister has also been assassinated, in front of his very eyes. As though that wasn't bad enough a group of actors and military intelligence officers take advantage of the town's isolation to stage a coup.
Somehow Ka finds himself caught up in all sides. Confident to the leaders of the coup, go between for Muslim terrorists and politicians alike. Yet it also looks like there might be a future with Ipek, and he has actually started to write poetry again for the first time in four years. Unfortunately Ka doesn't believe that happiness can be attained without suffering, so he is convinced things can only end badly for all concerned.
Snow is a curious novel, narrated by the author Orhan Pamuk who talks about his friend Ka. So that at times Pamuk goes off on tangents about his feelings for Ka, about his experiences in trying to piece together Ka's time in Kars. The novel is written some years after events, and Pamuk makes a few comments about things that happened in that time which seem like they could be spoilers to a degree. Overall this gives the novel a tangential feel, the sense of being not entirely focused, which I found off-putting.
Ka is a conflicted character. Desperate for happiness he finds himself saying anything to make it through. So that as the novel develops things get increasingly out of hand for him as well as the town. The novel is full of politics - that of religion and the state's reaction to it, the issues of terrorism, of the rights of people to worship as they see fit. Through all that even the atheist Ka examines his position, has he found god in this snow bound town? Or is he just trying to fit in with those that he meets? Regardless of all the town's turmoil and the hectic events, Ka's real concern is his fatalistic pursuit of happiness.
There are moments of wonder in Snow. Moments where the sentiment, the character, the events stops the reader, forces a savouring of the words like the poetry that Ka is so excited to be writing. Though this is balanced out by the tangential nature of the narration, so that in the end Snow is something of a mixed bag, and one that I found that I took longer to complete than I really should.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Author: Rob Saro
A preview of Rob Saro's Burying Sandwiches, a graphic novel I picked up recently at random and thoroughly enjoyed.