The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Moderators: Jason, Toothy, Tonyblack

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:34 am

BOOK 11

Puella Magi Madoka Magica, volume 3 by Magica Quartet, illustrated by Hanokage


Having managed to read and review the second volume of the manga of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I read the third and final volume. I was expecting a pretty big payoff. But would there be a happy ending, a dark ending, or even a remotely satisfying one?

The dark truth about the nature of Magical Girls has come out: when Magical Girls succumb to despair, they transform into Witches. In the process of discovering this truth, Sayaka becomes a Witch, and both she and Kyouko die in the ensuing battle. Kyubey coldheartedly reveals why he grants girls wishes in exchange for transforming them into Magical Girls: in order to stave off the end of all creation using hope and despair. And Madoka will provide his biggest harvest, even if it means she dies, or worse, turns into the most powerful Witch of all. And the truth about Homura also comes out, how she has violated the laws of time to try and save Madoka from her grim fate, only to fail, over and over again. But can she succeed this time around? Can anyone stop the ultimate Witch, Walpurgis Nacht? And will Madoka be forced to make a wish, or will she find a way to stop this vicious cycle?

Unlike the previous volume, this one isn’t quite as satisfying. Not by that much, only by a relative degree. Indeed, there is much in this volume that is good, including an explanation by Kyubey about the true nature of the Magical Girls and Witches, and how it fits into staving off entropy, as well as a slightly baffling but ultimately excellent ending. Not to mention a chapter showing how Homura fits into this whole saga. But I was left dissatisfied, as if this was the abridged version of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica story.

Madoka is still quite a flat character, but that ultimately works to her benefit, especially in the denouement. Indeed, she is less the main character than she is a plot device, especially after Kyubey explains why. Kyubey himself (or itself?) also shows how truly cold and callous he is, and not just manipulative. Of the other characters, it is Homura who gets the biggest development, when we see how she became as cold and callous as she became, only to have perhaps her finest hour.

Overall, the third and final volume was a satisfactory, if not actually great, ending to Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I enjoyed it enough, and the ending itself was perhaps the best it could be for such a dark story…

***½

FIRST WORDS: Dammit

LAST WORDS: (Not recorded due to spoilers)
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:24 am

BOOK 12

Doctor Who: Plague of the Cybermen by Justin Richards


Once more, I come to a Doctor Who novel released to tie in with the new series. This is one of the more recent ones, one of three released last year. But would Plague of the Cybermen tickle my fancy?

In the village of Klimtenburg in the 19th century, the residents suffer from a plague, a wasting illness. Talismans of an apparently lucky metal don’t seem to work, corpses are being snatched from their graves, and the mysterious Watchman employed by Lord Ernhardt works tirelessly to help the lord’s sickly son. And through it all are rumours of the Plague Warriors. The Doctor arrives in the middle of it, as usual, and he soon finds that the metal talismans are radioactive, signs of a spaceship crash long ago. Even as he works to help cure the sickness of the villagers, he soon finds signs of an old adversary. For the Plague Warriors are Cybermen, working to try and restore themselves so that they may conquer the world…

The story, in the end, is a very by-the-numbers one. I have to confess to disappointment, as everything seems rather flat. There’s some good twists and surprises, true, and it’s not a bad story, just a fairly standard one, and with not quite enough exposition to make sense of the little details.

This isn’t helped much by the characters. The Doctor is written fine enough, though not stellarly. Olga and the Ernhardt family are perhaps the most interesting of the characters, and even they aren’t great.

Overall, Plague of the Cybermen was something of a disappointment. Not a bad story, but I expected much better. As it is, it feels phoned-in…

***

FIRST WORDS: In a landscape bled of all colour, Stefan was digging his own grave.

LAST WORDS: (Not recorded due to spoilers)
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:07 am

BOOK 13

Fullmetal Alchemist, volume 20 by Hiromu Arakawa


In my opening remarks so far, I’ve pretty much said all I can about Fullmetal Alchemist. So, in the absence of any pithy remarks, on with the motley…

Al, Scar, Marcoh, Winry and May have laid a trap to catch Envy, and barely succeed. Sending the weakened homunculus off with May for her to show to her emperor, they make their way to Liore, where Al reunites with his father, who tells him the truth. Meanwhile, Greed, possessing Lin’s body, makes a terrible decision that leads him to intercept Al. And all around Amestris, friend and foe begin making their plans to counter each other…

There was less satisfying in this volume than there were in previous ones. Sure, Envy got a much-needed comeuppance, and we got both a reunion of Al and Von Hohenheim, as well as Greed and Ed meeting again. But all the same, it feels more like a transition, a lull in the actual story progression, albeit with the promise of more to come in later volumes.

There’s not that much character development here. Al and Von Hoheinheim get some, but most of what does get developed is Greed and Lin. There’s an incident later on in this volume that leads to significant development, especially on Greed’s part.

Overall, a relatively average volume of Fullmetal Alchemist. A shame, but I know from this volume that the best is yet to come…

***½
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Thu Jun 26, 2014 2:14 am

Okay, I may be breaking the 'no pairs of graphic novels' rule. I recently received my order of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duellist volume 1 from the bookshop, and volume one of Durarara! (or Drrr!, as it is also dubbed) from the library. Can't wait to read them, either...
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:51 am

BOOK 14

DRRR!! (Durarara!!), volume 1 by Ryohgo Narita, Suzuhito Yasuda, and Akiyo Satorigi


One Japanese franchise that I had heard a lot about is Durarara!!, a bizarre urban fantasy. Recently, the manga version of the Durarara!! franchise got released at my local library, so I decided to give it a go. But would I enjoy it? Well, there’s the rub…

Mikado Ryuugamine has moved to the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo, to start a new life while attending high school there. Meeting with old friend Misaomi Kida, Mikado soon learns that there are many strange and bizarre characters in Ikebukuro, many of whom he would do well to avoid, like the bizarrely humanistic nihilist and informant Izaya Orihara, or the now infamous Dollars gang. Stalkers, scientists, and criminals of various stripes all roam these streets, but none compare to the mysterious Black Rider, a mysterious motorbike rider who seems to have no head under their helmet…

I have to confess to being confused as to what the story is about. Then again, it’s early days, and even if I can’t quite figure out what’s going on so far, I can see the beginnings of story arcs being laid down. Certainly the revelations of the final chapter of this volume do throw things into a new light, and I am certainly intrigued enough to continue with the series, but it still seems like a lot of style but little substance so far.

Certainly the characters have something to do with it. There’s a few interesting characters, like the Black Rider, aka Celty Sterluson, who seems to be the mascot of the series, and her would-be paramour, the briefly seen but very distinctive Shinra. Another very interesting character is the perversely humanistic nihilist Izaya Orihara, who would be called villainous if it weren’t for the fact that it’s more like he’s completely amoral, but not actually evil or good. But most of the others, while having some elements of intrigue, don’t quite grab me yet.

Even so, I am willing to give the next volume of Durarara!! a go. Not a great start, but intriguing enough for me to try the next volume.


***
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:47 am

BOOK 15

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist, volume 1: Duelist Kingdom by Kazuki Takahashi


Yu-Gi-Oh! became known to Western audiences in the form of an anime about a card game, but the first seven volumes of the original manga was about games in general. After all, the title means King of Games in Japanese. The card game known as Duel Monsters did play a role in the earlier volumes of the manga, but generally, it had the hallmarks of a ‘game of the week’ story, with only a few, short story arcs. But now, with the eighth volume, dubbed the first volume of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist in English, we come to the overarching stories that would become part of the better known anime series. Cheesy though it was, it wasn’t too bad, and the manga is more darker than the anime. Whether it’s any good, though, remains to be seen…

As Duel Monsters rises in popularity, Yugi and his friends witness the end of a tournament, and the announcement of a new one by Duel Monster’s creator, Maximillion J Pegasus. But Pegasus wants a reluctant Yugi to come to his Duelist Kingdom tournament, and sets up a Shadow Game that ends with Yugi’s defeat, and his grandfather’s soul trapped in a videotape. His friend, Jonouchi, also decides to head to Duelist Kingdom, to win money for his sister’s upcoming operation. But the two friends, joined by Anzu, Honda, and Bakura, have a hard time on their hands winning the tournament. Pegasus has a Millennium Item, the Millennium Eye, allowing him to predict his opponent’s moves. And Yugi and Jonouchi are up against some of the most skilled card duelists of all time, from the champion Insector Haga, to the seductive Mai Kujaku…

One of the faults I had found with the series to date, before I started this one, was that it was very much a ‘game of the week’ (like a monster of the week in, say, series like Doctor Who), which is very much a double-edged sword. Here, it has transmuted to opponent of the week, so to speak, which again is a double-edged sword. The story hasn’t quite grabbed me as much as I had hoped, but nonetheless, there are some intriguing differences in the story between this manga and its adaptation that retain my interest, and it’s still entertaining. Even the translated dialogue here lacks some of the cheesier aspects of 4Kids’ dub, much to its improvement.

The mains are pretty much the same as usual, though Jonouchi (aka Joey Wheeler from the English version of the anime) gets some development with the discussion about his sister. However, the differences in character for the newcomers are interesting. Certainly Insector Haga (aka Weevil Underwood) is far less overtly malevolent at first, making his change in demeanour all the more shocking, and Pegasus, far from being a monolithic, if somewhat camp villain, has a bit more humour and humanity, even as he plays ruthlessly against Yugi in their first duel, thus being more interesting in the process.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist is not for everyone, but to fans of the series, it might prove interesting, if only to see the differences from the anime. And it’s certainly enjoyable and enthralling enough to be a suitable timekiller, if you’re into this sort of manga.


***½
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:07 am

BOOK 16

Dr Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory by Greg Broadmore


Although it had existed for some time, Weta Workshop has leapt to fame when doing work for Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. However, Weta does more than work on the movies. They also create collectors’ items, including the Dr Grordbort line of mock-up rayguns, beautifully detailed, and an homage to old-fashioned science fiction, as well as having a satirical edge. They published a catalogue of these fictional rayguns in a small book, and it ought to be entertaining, at least…

Tired of not feeling like a real man? Need some edge while fighting the Moon Men? Need to pack for a hunting expedition to Venus? Then Dr Grordbort is your man. From the latest aether oscillators to the very best in protective wear, from automated servants to the ultimate conveyances, the Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory will have what you need…

I have to confess that this is quite a funny book. Written very tongue-in-cheek, the pseudo-scientific details are sure to baffle and amuse, and the attention to detail, as ridiculous and pseudo-scientific as it is, is amazing. And the satire, for the most part, works. There’s significant criticism of jingoism, particularly of the British Empire kind, of the White Man’s Burden stereotype and colonialism, and for the most part, it works well.

There are times, though, when the humour is too mean spirited, particularly during the Lord Cockswain story at the end, for all its excellent satire of Boy’s Own-style adventures. And for all the information packed into it, I actually found this book too short, especially considering the amount of money I spent on it. I was hoping, if not for something the size of a telephone directory, then something maybe twice as long as what I had. As it was, I was left wanting more, if only for a few faux-order forms, and maybe a discourse on how more of these weapons are supposed to work.

Even so, Dr Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory was entertaining and amusing enough, although its title is bloody hard to spell (or say, for that matter). A lovely bit of satire and humour disguised as a mock-catalogue of rayguns.


***½
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:33 am

BOOK 17

DRRR!! (Durarara!!), volume 2 by Ryohgo Narita, Suzuhito Yasuda, and Akiyo Satorigi


After the mildly disappointing but still intriguing first instalment of Durarara!!, I still wanted to give the series another try. After all, there was enough that ensured that it was interesting. It was just the lack of the story threads tying together that hampered my enjoyment. But now, I have read the second instalment. I could only hope that I found it better…

As modern day dullahan Celty Sturluson ponders her quest to find her missing head, a surviving member of a gang attacked by Celty is interrogated by members of the Dollars Gang, who are trying to find out who is behind the recent kidnappings. But it is Yagiri Pharmaceuticals who is behind them, and its Chief Namie Yagiri and her brother Seiji hide dark secrets of their own. While trying to defend classmate Anri Sonohara, Mikado Ryugamine gets enmeshed in a brutal brawl between informant Izaya Orihara and hot-tempered Shizuo Heiwajima. But his worries aren’t over even if he escapes that, for Mikado’s path is destined to cross with Celty’s once more, in a frightening way…

This instalment of Durarara!! is more plot intensive, and frankly, a lot less confusing than the previous volume. More exposition is given, and finally, we have some degree of understanding of what the hell is going on. Of course, a lot is still left up in the air, and more than one subplot is highly disturbing, and more than one sequence will have you either making disgusted noises, or else glad you don’t let anything near your eyes. But it was certainly better than the previous volume, I have to say.

Part of the appeal of Durarara!! are the colourful characters, who run the gamut from the amusing to the highly disturbing. Certainly, the latter would include Namie Yagiri and her brother Seiji, who both have disturbing, albeit divergent, romantic ideals. Celty falls into the former category, despite being a dullahan and missing her head, as she is rather endearing. Unfortunately, I can’t say much about the other characters here, although there’s a good fight between Izaya and Shizuo, the latter of whom makes his proper debut after being alluded to.

I have to confess, I am enjoying Durarara!! With its second volume, it’s now beginning to show more promise than it did before…


****
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:44 am

BOOK 18

Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui, translated by Andrew Driver


On occasion, it’s my experiences with other media that bring me to books. In this case, an anime movie that had intrigued me, Satoshi Kon’s Paprika, brought me to the book that it was adapted from. While quite different in many respects to the film, I nonetheless wanted to give the book a go…

The cool and collected Doctor Atsuko Chiba and her childish but brilliant colleague Doctor Kosaku Tokita have developed machines that allow psychotherapists to examine the dreamscapes of their patients, and treat them accordingly. Although designed for schizophrenics, in the past, they had been used for illicit but effective psychotherapy in general, with Chiba adopting the persona of Paprika, a young dream detective and psychoanalyst. However, there are those who oppose this technology. Doctor Inui and his protégé and lover Doctor Osanai are both jealous of Chiba and Tokita, as well as wary of the new technology, and begin to use it to discredit the two scientists. But the new technology of the DC Mini has its own dangers, and as a war breaks out between those for and against it, with dreams as their battlefield and weapons, it may yet have a frightening and unexpected impact on reality…

Okay, so, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. I dunno whether it’s the personal prejudices of the author or something that is unfortunate and unintentional, but this book has quite a strong homophobic slant. In addition, there are some parts that, while possibly a product of Japanese culture, nonetheless seem repugnant to a Western reader. Finally, I have to confess to having some sympathy with the arguments of Inui and Osanai, even if their characters are also quite repulsive, unfortunately being the source of the homophobic slant of the book.

But that should not detract greatly from what is quite an interesting and intelligent book. The characters are varied and interesting, the dream sequences are suitably surreal, and the book raises a number of interesting and pertinent questions about emergent technology and dreams. I couldn’t help but enjoy the book, despite the bad parts.

Overall, despite some rather repugnant elements, Paprika nonetheless was an intelligent bit of entertainment. I certainly enjoyed it, and maybe, if you give it a shot, you may too…

****
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:36 am

BOOK 19

DRRR!! (Durarara!!), volume 3 by Ryohgo Narita, Suzuhito Yasuda, and Akiyo Satorigi


Well, well, well. My well of pithy comments has dried up. So, without further ado, let’s get straight onto a review of the third volume of Durarara!!...

Mikado Ryugamine moved to Ikebukuro to see the extraordinary, but even he didn’t expect to be pursued by dullahan Celty Sturluson, who believes that the girl he is protecting has had Celty’s head grafted onto a new body. However, the mysterious girl has a link to the deranged Namie Yagiri, whose incestuous obsession with her brother means that she will go to any lengths to keep him under her control. But after an encounter with both Celty and amoral informant Izaya Orihara, and then a near-kidnapping experience from Namie’s hired goons, it’s time for Mikado to reveal something. For in a town full of secrets, he perhaps hides one of the biggest of them all…

I think after the revelations in the previous volume, the story has settled down somewhat, albeit with some interesting revelations. It’s not quite at the same level of the previous volume, though there are plenty of mysteries and meditations. However, it’s the final revelation of the volume that really throws a massive punch, and there’s even some nice humour too.

Said revelation involves supposed protagonist Mikado, who, finally, is revealed to have a major secret of his own, putting things into a whole new light. The depths of Namie’s insanity are also revealed, making her brother’s own problems pale by comparison. And Celty gets some intriguing insights herself.

Overall, while not quite at the level of the previous volume, I’m still enjoying Durarara!! And the final volume, of this storyline at least, isn’t far away…


***½
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:02 am

I've omitted the First and Last Words on the last few reviews, so forgive me for resuming them, or forgetting them. Whatever...


BOOK 20

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie


As stated before, I’m not fond of mysteries. However, I do try to branch out, and it’s about time that I try another Christie, and indeed, another Hercule Poirot novel. So I had to consider which one to try, having already looked at Poirot’s final case. Which was his most famous, then? Why, none other than Murder on the Orient Express

Required to return to England after a case abroad, Hercule Poirot is approached in Istanbul by Ratchett, an American businessman whom Poirot doesn’t like the look of. Poirot refuses Ratchett’s request for protection against an unknown foe, as they both travel on the Orient Express. But then, Ratchett is murdered. And his true identity is none other than Cassetti, a kidnapper whose most infamous deed, the death of Daisy Armstrong, forced him to flee America. Soon, Poirot learns that more than one person has a connection to the Armstrong kidnapping, but virtually everyone has an alibi. Poirot has his work cut out for him, assuming the murderer doesn’t strike again…

While my style of reading is not very conducive to mysteries, I did manage to catch many of the clues. Admittedly, I did also know the quite excellent ending, which helped. I have to confess, this was a somewhat more enjoyable experience than Curtain, though on the other hand, it does lack a certain amount of Curtain’s novelty in its premise, and is also far more old-fashioned, with even some national stereotypes that don’t exactly hold water nowadays. So it does balance out.

I find Poirot distinctly more likeable here than in Curtain. However, I can’t say that many of the characters interest me. They all seem like archetypes and stereotypes, some mildly interesting, the others quite easily forgettable.

Even so, I did enjoy Murder on the Orient Express. Not greatly, but even so, it was a pleasure to read one of the best mystery novels of all time…


***½

FIRST WORDS: It was five o’clock on a winter’s morning in Syria.

LAST WORDS: (Not recorded due to spoilers)
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:53 am

BOOK 21

DRRR!! (Durarara!!), volume 4 by Ryohgo Narita, Suzuhito Yasuda, and Akiyo Satorigi


Well, now I have finally come to the final volume, of this story arc at least, of the Durarara!! manga. But would I be satisfied? Or would it crash and burn?

Mikado’s secret is out. By a series of events and circumstances, he is the unwitting founder of the Dollars gang, and its leader, and he is using them to help him get away from the insane Namie. But latter-day dullahan Celty isn’t standing by and waiting for things to pan out. Her fight with the Yagiri Pharmaceuticals goons and a new encounter with the girl who seems to have her head leads her to a confrontation with someone she thought she knew. The truth will out, but in the end, who will love and be loved? What is truth, and what are lies? And who are the puppets, and who are really pulling the strings?

Overall, despite the sheer number of revelations here, I am left a little dissatisfied. Sure, more answers than questions are left at the end of this volume, and there’s some happy endings and good story. But I am left wanting too much, and I feel like things wrapped up just a touch too soon. Sure, there’s some promise for the future, but I won’t be able to get that soon.

The characters are fine, with Mikado getting some development, given the revelation that he is behind the Dollars, albeit by planting an urban legend. Celty and Shinra also get some development, with the penultimate chapter being devoted to them. However, of the remaining characters, the only one that really interests me is Izaya Orihara, who actually reveals more of his motives, presumably setting things up for later volumes.

Overall, the fourth volume of Durarara!! was a good, but not excellent ending to the series, or at least to this particular story arc. I just wish it was a touch better…


***½

FIRST WORDS: Why are all these people staring at me!?

LAST WORDS: (Not recorded due to spoilers)
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Sun Jul 06, 2014 6:22 am

BOOK 22

Doctor Who: The Sands of Time by Justin Richards


Last year, BBC Books re-released a bunch of Doctor Who novels, one from each Doctor, to coincide with the 50th anniversary. This year, they re-released stories that had a relation to one of the classic monsters. The Sands of Time was one of them, with the Osirans and their robot mummies being the theme monsters, given that it was a sequel to the wonderful story Pyramids of Mars. But would it be a good choice to read? After all, I didn’t think much of the previous Justin Richards-penned story I read, Plague of the Cybermen

Landing in Victorian times in the British Museum, the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa soon find themselves embroiled in one of their darkest adventures. Nyssa is kidnapped, and the Doctor and Tegan find themselves invited to a mummy-unwrapping party at the house of Lord Kenilworth, a man who seems to have met them before. There, a millennia-old mummy is revealed to be none other than a comatose Nyssa, sending the Doctor, Tegan, and Kenilworth’s butler Atkins on a journey across the world, and across time. From Ancient Egypt, all the way to modern day London, the Doctor races against time to stop the mysterious Sadan Rassul. For Rassul is intent on reviving Nepthys, a renegade Osiran who was even more powerful than her genocidal brother and co-conspirator, Sutekh, and no force in the universe might be able to stop her from destroying all life…

In terms of storyline, The Sands of Time kicks things up a notch from Pyramids of Mars. Sure, it doesn’t quite reach the potential prose offers it, a sequel wasn’t exactly necessary, the villain’s plots took time to make sense, and the time travel antics will doubtless be confusing to many. But the time travel elements actually work well, slotting together nicely, and this feels more like a mummy horror movie than Pyramids of Mars did.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of a complex, time-travel based story with multiple time settings is that not all characters get development. Sure, the Doctor and Tegan get quite a bit, as does Lord Kenilworth and his butler Atkins. But I wish more of the sympathetic side of Sadan Rassul was further developed, and the characters in the modern day sequence really get it in the shorts. And one of the big draws of Pyramids of Mars was the characterisation of its villain, Sutekh. Nepthys, by comparison, gets very little, and is something of a more generic threat by comparison.

Even so, these are relatively minor quibbles with an excellent Doctor Who novel. Not perfect, but an excellent read that you will enjoy.

****½

FIRST WORDS: The woman was still alive as unnatural thunder cracked across the sky.

LAST WORDS: (Not recorded due to spoilers)
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Sun Jul 06, 2014 7:54 am

BOOK 23

The Invisibles, volume 1: Say You Want a Revolution by Grant Morrison et al


I’ve already had one encounter with the brain-burning comic-book writing of Grant Morrison. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth was intelligently written, but bad for the brain. But, being a masochistic sort of guy, I decided to give one of his original series a go. The Invisibles is sometimes cited as being an inspiration for The Matrix, but it is ultimately a very different tale…

Meet Dane McGowan, a Liverpudlian teen with an anti-authoritarian streak a mile wide. After burning down his school, he is sent to Harmony House, a facility designed to force conformity into its inmates. But there, he discovers that there’s more to Harmony House than mere discipline. Rescued from agents of an eldritch power by bizarre assassin King Mob, the leader of the local cell of the Invisibles, Dane finds himself being recruited and trained to fight a bizarre war between the Invisibles, and mysterious beings who have helped humanity imprison itself. The battlegrounds are across time and space, reality and dreams, the mind and the body, with the stakes being as high as the fate of humanity itself…

Grant Morrison writes intelligently. Let no doubt be raised about that. The Invisibles is an extremely intelligent and intriguing and engrossing work, if a somewhat enigmatic one. This in itself would be fine, if it weren’t for the relentless grotesqueries on display, which are more than a little off-putting. And the story reads like a bad acid trip, albeit one that is followable. It’s still an interesting story, I just wish that it wasn’t so morbid and gruesome, as that’s considerably off-putting.

I found it hard to like Dane McGowan, aka Jack Frost, at first, though he gets better as the series progresses, being the closest to a relatively sane character. Of the main Invisibles, I have to say that transsexual Lord Fanny and Boy are most intriguing, with King Mob seeming more like Spider Jerusalem as a freedom fighter than a rogue journalist. But Morrison does fill out a lot of interesting, and often grotesque characters.

Overall, I thought The Invisibles was an extremely intelligent work marred mostly by Morrison’s morbid predisposition with the grotesque and the gruesome. Maybe it might improve, but I’m not sure whether I want to continue…

***

FIRST WORDS: And so we return and begin again.

LAST WORDS: (Not recorded due to spoilers)
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: The Quatermass Book Reading Blog TP1: Regenerated...

Postby Quatermass » Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:22 am

BOOK 24

Doctor Who: Shroud of Sorrow by Tommy Donbavand


Like Plague of the Cybermen, this Doctor Who book, Shroud of Sorrow, was released last year, presumably to coincide with the 50th anniversary. Appropriately, although it has no standard monster, it nonetheless takes place mostly on the 23rd of November, 1963. But would it work? Well, here goes…

23rd of November, 1963, and the world is in mourning after the assassination of John F Kennedy. People across Dallas, and across the world, are seeing the faces of loved ones, berating them and feeding off their sorrow. The Doctor and Clara, soon after helping an archaeological expedition on Venofax, feel the effects, and come to Earth. Along with FBI agent Warren Skeet and reporter Mae Callon, the Doctor and Clara soon finds that the Earth has become the target of the Shroud, an alien threat that feeds off sorrow. Soon, the Doctor and his allies find themselves dealing with a threat that has already fed off one world, and may not be stopped from consuming Earth…

As stories go, this is an average, albeit interesting one. The story is a fairly average romp, although the Shroud as well as the effects it left behind is a good concept (if not exactly original: the Scourge from Paul Cornell’s audio drama The Shadow of the Scourge had a not dissimilar nature). It’s also quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, I found the ending somewhat confusing and rushed, and I’m not sure exactly how they stopped the Shroud.

The Doctor and Clara get some good characterisation, especially the former as he uses his memories to fight off the Shroud. Warren Skeet and Mae Callon are also good, as is Captain Keating and the Clowns of Semtis. One real bum note is the rabid General West, though, who seems like a ridiculous stereotype out of some bad thriller, and the Shroud, for being a good concept, nonetheless doesn’t do it for me as a character.

Overall, Shroud of Sorrow was a fairly average Doctor Who story. I just wish it was a touch better…

***½

FIRST WORDS: PC Reg Cranfield turned the corner into Totter’s Lane, the beam of his torch slicing through the fog.

LAST WORDS: ‘Mum?’
All you need to understand
Is everything you know is wrong!


-Weird Al Yankovic
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5684
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

PreviousNext

Return to Non-Discworld books

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest