Space Opera + Graphic Novel = wonderful

Saga Volume Four by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

As I have previously mentioned, I love Saga. It’s an amazing series which I’m getting depressingly close to being caught up on.

The general pitch for the series is two planets have been at war for generations when a soldier from each side fall in love, marry and have a child which should be impossible. Governments across the galaxy are frantic to get their hands on the baby. The series followed the family as they struggle their way through parenting, marriage and being on the run, but also the people who are hunting them.

If you haven’t read it and are going to, stop here with this recommendation: It’s amazing.

After this point there might be spoilers for the last three books.

Volume Four starts with Prince IV’s son being born, while he is off world wasting time on Sextillion (the sex planet), Alana struggling with her newly established acting career, Marko fumbling his way through being the stay at home parent and The Will’s sister The Brand looking for a way to wake him from his coma.

In addition to the beautiful graphics in this book, the complicated characters and intriguing plot there is also a very basic, human story too. What it means to in a relationship, how easy it for every day stresses to come between people who love each other. What being part of a family means, the good and the bad that love can drive you to. What it means to be a parent and have to put someone else’s needs before your own all the time.

Just a heads up – there’s a lot of mature and graphic content of all varieties – violence, sex, drugs  it’s all in there.

The series is amazing though. I really recommend it.

Last movie I watched:

Part of Deadpool. I love it.

Last TV episode I watched:

Smallville. It’s got a lot of evolution as a show. I think it’s a good thing.

 

A brief adventure in adult historical fiction

Three Sisters, Three Queens by Phillipa Gregory

Despite Gregory being a rather prolific writer, and my generally enjoyment of historical fiction, it’s maybe a bit surprising that I haven’t read anything else by Phillipa Gregory, not even the Other Boleyn Girl. But I was in an airport and it was on sale, so there you have it.

I actually really enjoyed it. Many people I talked to said her more recent stuff isn’t as good as the older ones, and who can blame her? She must be running out of Tudor women to give a twist to and write about. But without anything to compare it to, I really liked Three Sisters, Three Queens.

It’s the story of Henry VIII’s older sister Margret, who was married to the King of Scotland as a young teen and acted as regent for her son by him when her husband was killed. The center of the story is the dynamic of Catherine of Aragon, Margret and her younger sister Mary, three Tudor princesses who all marry kings but ultimately lead tragic lives.

What I liked most about the story was Margret’s rather annoying, petty, bratty personality. She saw her whole life as a competition against her sisters. When she is succeeding and they are not, she is smug and filled with false generosity and when they are outdoing her she resents the same behaviour. It sounds like a weird thing to really enjoy about a main character but I really liked the fact that she was filled with personality, even if it was an often dis-likable personality, and not a Mary Sue kind of princess. Also, I was ablw to read her as a very sympathetic character despite this because it seemed to me that someone so young, naive and out of touch with reality should be pitied. She was raised without any real understanding of the world – she was a symbol of Tudor power, but never a person so it’s not surprising that she mishandles every challenge she ever faces. How would she know better?

The most interesting thing about historical fiction of course is never about the history but what interests us know and what that says about who we are. I’m glad I had a bit of a reminder of that.

Last movie I watched:

Valentine’s Day. Not as good as Love Actually.

Last TV episode I watched:

The Musketeers. Such a wonderful, swashbuckling show

7 Evil Ex Boyfriends

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley

This is another one that I read months ago. I really liked it and understood how it became such a classic. It probably won’t  be my classic, but that’s okay. I support other people’s classics too.

Also, I feel really sorry for Knives the whole time.

Last movie I watched:

Die Hard 2. Not genius but fun!

Last TV show I watched:

The first episode of the Crown. Love it.

A very long hiatus

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

My life has been really busy and I haven’t blogged in ages. You may have noticed. Anyway, this blog post is just in here so I don’t forget I read this book and enjoyed it.

One reason Chamber of Secrets is not my favourite Harry Potter:

The lack of wonderful, supportive and fun adults and other mentor figures and the feeling of inter generational overlap. In this one there’s no grown up person to help Harry and co, even passively. I really enjoy mentor characters and they were all missing from this book.

One reason Chamber of Secrets could be my favourite Harry Potter:

The kids really do solve this one on their own and that’s pretty epic. Most of the other ones they have someone on their side but not for Chamber. These plucky kids do it all their own and that’s unique in the series.

Last movie I watched: Noel. Weird Christmas movie. I don’t feel like I get it.

Last TV episode I watched: Supernatual. Castiel! What’s happened to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rerun

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

These books will always be ones I come back to again and again and again and even if there was anything I could do about it, I wouldn’t.

Instead of a lengthy post though I will just list a few thoughts and go about my day.

  1. Technically I listened to the Sorcerer’s Stone, but I kind of reject that title on principle. I found the number of Americanism in it very jarring.
  2. The world building is amazing. I’d forgotten how much of the story takes place before the plot really picks up and it’s all world building and setting out a few clues for later.
  3. The movies are good, the books are better.

Last movie I watched:

Victor Frankenstien. Skip it.

Last TV show I watched:

Touched. AMAZING. I didn’t expect the season finale to be so small. It’s a good thing, season 2 flowed into it very easily.

So a philosphoy textbook and a sci fi novel meet in a bar, hook up and then, 9 months later… Dune!

Dune: Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

So, as I may have mentioned, I love the TV movie miniseries Children of Dune more than any sane, reasonable person should admit publicly, thus proving any theories you might have been developing about me being a sane, reasonable person completely wrong.

Naturally, given my unhealthy obsession with that particular story, it was just a matter of time before I read the book. I had actually planned on reading the Dune books in order but I accidentally skipped Messiah.

Dune is complicated. I don’t just mean the world building, which is crazy complicated (like Tolkien level of crazy complicated) but like, from a narrative point of view and a readers point view and the authors point of view. It’s just complicated. The story itself is pretty amazing, and so intricately linked to the pages and pages of what is essentially philosophy that even though that much reflection and criticism and ideological banter should make the book miserably slow and cumbersome somehow doesn’t. I can’t really explain why political theory presented through the characters doesn’t bore me, but it doesn’t. Usually didactic texts make me crazy but for whatever reason, I really love it. I’m confused and conflicted by a book that I know shouldn’t be that good but just is.

I’d be interested to know what other people think about this book, if anyone wanted to read and share their thoughts.

Therefore, to flesh out this post a little more, I am going to talk about Irulan because she is one of my favourites in the miniseries. Which is why I was disappointed because in the book she’s pretty much Alia’s parrot almost until the end. Which is annoying and silly. In the movies she made it clear, that despite her rather miserable life, her husband’s children were her only concern and that she would die for them. She was strong, in a different way than Chani or Alia or Ghanima, because she lacked the ability to act, but she devoted all her time and resources to the children anyway, and that kind of sacrifice made her amazing to me. I was sad to learn that Herbert hadn’t treated her the same way.

This is leads me ask a bigger question about who stories belong to. Frank Herbert’s character wasn’t as wonderful as she could be, and in some ways there are traces of a male dominated understanding of the female characters throughout the whole story. She is such a unique and brave character in the books but never quite fulfilled her potential. I’m glad someone made her that way, even if it wasn’t the original author. I will always have my preferred Irulan now, because someone else gave her to me, and now she’s kind of mine too, because I’ve made a choice about how I will see her.

There’s a lot about what it means to be human, what it means to have power and what it means to believe in something greater than yourself in this book. So it’s lacking in what it means to be a woman, but it’s still a pretty powerful text.

Last movie I watched:

About Time. I think I need a support group for that movie. If anyone knows of you, let me know.

Last TV episode I watched:

Once Upon a Time. Which is so epic guys, just so epic.

The terrible things we do: religion, politics and love

Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

I did an independent novel study on this book in high school. At the time I really loved its kick ass feministness and complex characters, its intricate story line and the way it blended so many myths together so seamlessly. Now I can’t believe how much sex I missed. And not like even straight people sex either. Same sex sex and threesome sex and oral sex, like all kinds of sex. How did 17 year old me miss all this?

This is a retelling of the King Arthur myth told through the perspective of the female characters who are traditionally under developed and dull and/or evil. It’s Marion Zimmer Bradley’s really great work, and although it’s very, very long, it’s really wonderful. I love King Arthur stories so much, I’ve read a million of them and I’m always looking for more.

I think the most interesting thing about myths is that we can retell them over and over and over again, across generations because every generation, every retelling and every version brings something new to the story, brings something unique to it, some way to connect it to the teller’s lives and time and reality.

This time I read a lot into the religion of the book, more specifically the horrifying extremes religion can drive good people to. Possibly because that’s something that I, as the reader (And readers become part of the retelling) think is effecting my world and my life and my time in a huge, huge way.

Allow me to summarize the situation in Britain in this King Arthur story. It is divided into two – the old religion is a Goddess worshiping faith with a strong focus on death and rebirth. The Lady of the Lake, the Priestess of Avalon is the Goddess’s face on earth, and under her supervision rituals celebrating the cycles of the world take place. The other religion is Christianity, with its rigid insistence that nature, and naturally occurring acts are evil and that all gods but their God are abominations. And into this giant conflict Morgaine and her baby brother Arthur are thrust, and ultimately end up being on opposite sides of.

Morgaine loves her little brother dearly, and thinks that he’s the only person who ever really loved her. But when she’s a young girl she’s sent away to be fostered by her aunt in Avalon, where she becomes a priestess. Her little brother, obviously goes on to become king of England. Both end up being manipulated by Vivian and Avalon, to conceive the prefect king but still maintain a happy relationship for most of their lives until Morgaine betrays him, in the name of her Goddess.

And that thread trails through the whole book, for so many characters. A few people, like Morgause, use people they love for political gain, and a few people, like Gwenyfar do terrible things for love, but for Morgaine it was always the Goddess. She was ruthlessly used by her foster-mother Vivian, and in the end ruthlessly used her own foster-daughter, resulting in the girl’s death. In the name of her Goddess she murders people who are in her way, sends her lover to his, orders the execution of her former lover and acts against her king and her brother. Her life is spent lonely and empty because of the actions she commits against the people she loves in the name of her Goddess.

To make it more bitter sweet, in the end she comes to understand that it was all for nothing, because her Goddess will always be with mankind, even if it’s in a different form, like that of the Virgin Mary that the Christians worship. While this brings Morgaine peace, to me it is heartbreaking.

Every day, across the world people are dying because we seem to be unable to see our own Gods in other people’s. Or maybe we fail to see our own humanity in other people.

Either way, the people in this book all feel like they are doing the right thing, no matter if it is luring their lover to punishment and death, plotting to overthrow a beloved sibling or engineering an incestuous relationship, everyone believes they are doing it for the right reason. Sometimes it’s easy to look at violence and horrendous acts and think that the people who commit them must be evil. But what if they’re not? What if they really, truly believe that what they’re doing is right?

I think that’s scarier then just pure evil.

This book will always be a re-read for me, because I don’t doubt that every time I read it I will get something new out of it. Now, if you don’t love King Arthur myths that’s okay, but I really think you should find a book to re-read that never tells itself the same way twice. I think that’s important.

Last movie I watched:

I really don’t remember. I’ve been very busy lately. I hope it was good though.

Last TV episode I watched:

Last episode of Charmed season 7. That was a really good ending. If it weren’t for my love for the last episode of season 8, I’d say they should have stopped there.