Just bringing this discussion over to ning...

What books are you reading right now that don't have a narrative driven by images as well as words?

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doc photo said:

I picked up one of the later books in the Lensman series at a used book store. I gave up on it after a couple of chapters so I will be interested in reading your take on this one.

Doc, I finished up the First Lensman a couple of weeks ago, and considering it took me almost 2 months should tell you something. I thought it was okay. The problem is that the story never sucked me in, and propelled me to keep reading. Also, at no point did any of the heroes seem to be in any danger that was I real concerned about.

Thanks Trav, Your reading experience was similar to mine. When reading a book becomes a chore I throw in the towel and move on to something else.

I think the Lensman concept sounds a lot more intriguing than the actual stories. Like a lot of golden age science fiction, the material doesn't hold up well.

Doc, I do think there were some good ideas in the book, its just the overall product was lacking.

Some ideas that I did like:

Their warships did not have gravity fields, because they needed more space for shields and weapons.

Traits that were rare in humans, were easily found in alien species. Yet, others found commonplace in humans, were rare in those same species. So, it was always hard to find a Lensman, no matter the species.

Just because it amused me, diesel powered spaceships.

Some of the alien species were just so crazy I loved them. Like the solar powered one.



doc photo said:

Thanks Trav, Your reading experience was similar to mine. When reading a book becomes a chore I throw in the towel and move on to something else.

I think the Lensman concept sounds a lot more intriguing than the actual stories. Like a lot of golden age science fiction, the material doesn't hold up well.

"Everybody else has their Gods. Who are ours?" - Jack Kirby

AMERICAN GODS: This is the book for which I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane as a lead-in. (In retrospect, I guess I should have re-read Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology.) It took me a while to get through this one because I took a days-long break between parts and two, then another between parts two and three. Plus I've started reading comic books again, and for some reason I have trouble reading comics and novels at the same time. I bought a first edition of American Gods when it was new, but I was never in the mood to read it until now. I didn't realize I had purchased a signed first edition, one of 5000, but mine has two signature pages, so there's probably someone out there who thought he was buying a signed edition and didn't get one. 

This book wasn't exactly what I expected. I expected an answer to the question posed above by Jack Kirby regarding his own New Gods series. I didn't find the answer there, and it wasn't really here, either (except a single paragraph split between pages 107 and 108, then again on page 419). It's more about the Old Gods (or, more specifically, the Old Gods and their relationship to the New Gods than it is about new, American Gods. American Gods is the kind of book you have to read the whole thing before making up your mind whether or not you like it. I like it well enough, it's just not what I expected it to be. 

-Bought a signed copy, first edition, way back when

-Read it.

-Wandered by a yard sale that had a book about The House on the Rock.

-Decided this was clearly a sign that we needed to see it on our next road trip, and we did

-Was only lukewarm on the series, but it had many strong episodes and performances.

Currently reading: Atlas Alone, by Emma Newman. It's the second book in her "read in any order" Planetfall series that I've read, and I plan to read the other two. The start is slow, but it becomes interesting a few chapters in. I preferred Before Mars, however. Despite her insistence the series need not be read in any particular order, I feel as though I'm missing some things for having started with the third and fourth books.

LIVE NUDE ALIENS: Sorry it's taken me so long to get to this, JD. I've had it since March but you caught me between the Bible (which I didn't finish) and Swamp Thing. For those of you who may not know, Live Nude Aliens is a collection of 11 short stories written by our friend JD DeLuzio. I once heard a story about Harlan Ellison, who had a smarmy answer in reserve for fans who asked him, "Where do you get your ideas?" I don't think that's a stupid question because I don't think it's meant to be taken literally. I think it's really a short-hand version of, "That's an interesting idea I never would have thought of on my own. What made you think of it?" That's a question I would have found myself asking in regard to nearly every story, except JD provides a little blurb before each one, which readers are free to read before the story, after, or ignore completely. I liked that.

The stories are diverse, but he saved the best one (or my favorite, anyway) for last. It is also the longest in the collection, set against the backdrop of an alternate reality in which aliens from outer space visited Earth in 1953, stayed for a couple of months, then returned 18 years later in 1971. It was interesting to observe the subtle changes the aliens made to Earth culture in comparison to our reality, as well as the changes attributed to the aliens that we know would have happened anyway. As with any short story collection (whether by the same or different authors), the reader is inevitably going to like some more than others, but the fun is in discovering which are which.

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: Whenever the subject of Sports Illustrated comes up (which is almost never), I always describe myself as a "regular reader"; sometimes I even clarify that I buy one issue per year, regularly: the swimsuit issue. SI has been publishing a swimsuit issue every since 1964, and I have been buying them every year (until recently) since 1980. A couple of years ago, I was in a Half Price Books store and saw that had the first three issues of Sports Illustrated Weekly on the shelf that someone had sold. What I didn't know at the time was that Sports Illustrated started out as a weekly magazine, and these were the first three issues. The next time I was in that store, the first two had sold but the third (featuring a woman in a bathing suit) was still there after many weeks. I negotiated a lower price, and it was only after I got it home I realized it was the third issue overall. It's not officially a "swimsuit" issue, but it's a collector's item AFAIAC.

A couple of years ago, SI switched their sell date for the annual swimsuit issue from February to May. When 2020 came along, I looked like crazy for it, but decided they skipped that year because of COVID-19. I didn't see one in 2021, either, but I didn't look as hard. Tracy's never been wild about me buying these, but the completist in my wanted to maintain that unbroken run. Now that I've missed two years the urge isn't as great, but his year I did catch a spot on TV which pointed out SI's first every pregnant swimsuit model. The next week I found one at Kroger. (They stocked two of the four covers.)

It was when I got it home I realized that issues were published in 2020 & 2021 and I had missed them. Oh, well. I also realized how much the swimsuit issue has changed, not only since the '80s but since 2019! There is a picture of a model breastfeeding, one displaying her cesarean section, one who is 74 years old. There are heavy models, models with skin conditions, you name it. I don't know how SI's truly "regular" readers fell about this (as I recall, they were none too happy about the swimsuit issue traditionally), but it's now very diverse. I may even show it to Tracy.

BLOGS: I don't recall ever reading about blogs here, but "besides comics" would tend to include that, so I'll just mention I've been reading "Super-Heroes Every Day," "Attack of the 50 Year Old Comics" and the "Chuck Lorre Vanity card archives" every day. When Tracy and I were first married, we used to watch Two and a Half Men. After that we watched The Big Bang Theory and after that Young Sheldon. I always wanted to pause on the vanity cards, but she was in control of the remote and vetoed me. Recently, though, I discovered the online archive and have been enjoying reading a few a day. Currently I'm up to #200. 

Thanks, Jeff! I just returned from the public library where the local SF group was discussing Live Nude Aliens and Other Stories. As for being between the Bible and Swamp Thing, that ends up sounding like a great compliment! I'm glad you enjoyed "Flying Whistle Stop." That was the overall favourite among the people I spoke with today, perhaps more so because the city where most of the story takes place is recognizably the alt-timeline version of our own.

Recently:

The Beasts of Tarzan - Last year I read my first James Bond novel. This year I took a crack at my first Tarzan. I've never been much of fan honestly, but I enjoyed this more than I expected to. It begins with Lord Greystoke and Jane back in England enjoying the good life, when the villain Rokoff kidnaps their son. Tarzan is tricked onto a boat and taken prisoner. Unbeknownst to him, Jane is also a prisoner on the ship. Tarzan in dropped off at an unknown location in Africa, and told his son will be given to cannibals. He stripped bare, and told "good luck".

He soon leads a pack of apes and a panther. Then begins to search for where he is and how to save his son. Lot's of stuff happens. I did enjoy the fast pace, but for some reason it was hard for me to really get into this and it took me about 2 months to finish, and its only 150 pages. There were a few times I felt like a false ending, though. One last thing on this, my paperback sports a cover by Neal Adams, which was pretty great.

Also, The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza by Lawrence Block. I think this is the first Lawrence Block novel I've read too (I'm pretty sure I've read some short stories). Bernie Rhodenbarr is a "retired" thief who now runs a used bookstore. He and his partner get tipped off to an apartment that will be vacated, and they plan to break in and steal the valuables.
When they get there, they find out they are beaten to the punch. Yet, the first set of thieves couldn't get into the safe. Bernie does and the biggest discovery is a super rare coin. Now, people start dying. And since some on the police force think Bernie is the murderer he is going to have to do some investigating of his own.
I really liked this a lot, and I loved how the end had the old-school, bring all of the suspects together to name the murderer. Plus, since this takes place around 1980, no cell phones. So, it was an actual plot point of people not being able to get a hold of each other by phone. 

Currently, I'm reading Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way by Bruce Campbell. As opposed to his first book, this is a novel. What makes it unusual (I don't recall seeing this before, but it probably has), is that Bruce Campbell writes it and Bruce Campbell is the protagonist of story. I'm less than 50 pages in, but Bruce Campbell has just gotten a role in a Mike Nichols film playing a wise doorman in a building where the star of the movie, Richard Gere, lives. It going to be a rom-com starring Gere and Renee Zellweger. So far, so good. pretty damn funny.

Murder on Route 66, an anthology published in the 90s and edited by Carolyn Wheat, features, of course, mysteries that unfold along Route 66 at various stops in different eras. The best stories in here are excellent-- those are few and far between. Others are good, if you're looking for a quick mystery. Quite a few, however, are subpar. The better stories made this a smooth summer read, though you may be frustrated by the detours and potholes.

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Also, The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza by Lawrence Block. I think this is the first Lawrence Block novel I've read too (I'm pretty sure I've read some short stories). Bernie Rhodenbarr is a "retired" thief who now runs a used bookstore. He and his partner get tipped off to an apartment that will be vacated, and they plan to break in and steal the valuables.
When they get there, they find out they are beaten to the punch. Yet, the first set of thieves couldn't get into the safe. Bernie does and the biggest discovery is a super rare coin. Now, people start dying. And since some on the police force think Bernie is the murderer he is going to have to do some investigating of his own.
I really liked this a lot, and I loved how the end had the old-school, bring all of the suspects together to name the murderer. Plus, since this takes place around 1980, no cell phones. So, it was an actual plot point of people not being able to get a hold of each other by phone. 

A long time ago, I read Burglars Can't Be Choosers, the first book in that series by Lawrence Block. Your description of The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza tells me that the formula remains intact: to wit, bookstore owner Bernie does his burgling on the side and finds a dead body, and has to prove he's not the one who made it dead. It's just like Law & Order, with the details changing from one episode to the next.

A while back, there was a movie made from The Burglar in the Closet, titled simply Burglar, starring Whoopi Goldberg in her early slob comedy phase of her career. How does a Black woman replace a character who was always described in the books as a Jewish man? Well, this was one of those movies that was in development hell for a while, and she got it after Bruce Willis passed on it. I've never seen it, save for the TV ads when it was out, but by all accounts it was quite terrible.

I remember Burglar, CK, but had no idea it was based on a book at all. I never saw the movie either, it just had the stench of bad from the ads.

IMDB tells me Jeph Loeb adapted the screenplay for Burglar, and Hugh Wilson, creator of WKRP in Cincinnati, was the director.

One thing that didn't help was including the perpetually unfunny Bob Goldthwait as the best friend. 

Roger Ebert's review sums things up nicely: If you're going to have Whoopi Goldberg in a movie, play to her strengths. If you're not going to play to her strengths, why even have her in the movie? 

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