Review: Eater

Eater by Gregory Benford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyable hard sci-fi read from the almost-always reliable Benford, I read this thinking that this was the kind of novel that would’ve made a better Interstellar, but then thought even fewer people would understand it.

The story was just on the edge of being Lem-quality fiction, as the Earth is met with an enemy in the form of an intelligent black hole, but unlike a Lem story, no real literary or psychological leaps are made; it is, however, a good and solid science fiction story that would make a helluva b-movie.

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Review: Iron Man Epic Collection: The Golden Avenger

Iron Man Epic Collection: The Golden Avenger
Iron Man Epic Collection: The Golden Avenger by Stan Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent reprint volume, the first in the Epic Collection for the Golden Avenger. This reprints the first thirty or so adventures of Iron Man from the pages of Tales of Suspense, featuring artwork by Don Heck, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko – Marvel’s Artistic Triumverate of the Early Sixties. The stories also introduce such villains as Blizzard (Jack Frost), the Unicorn, Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man, Mr. Doll, and of course the Mandarin.

Good solid comic book stories. What more do you need?

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Review: Star Trek Legion of Super-Heroes

Star Trek Legion of Super-Heroes
Star Trek Legion of Super-Heroes by Chris Roberson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This trade paperback reprinted an interesting, if somewhat stretched, teaming of the crew of the original Enterprise with several members of DC Comics’ oft-forgotten Legion of Super-Heroes. It works a bit better than Trek meeting with the X-Men along the same vein. The artwork is pretty good, and the story actually makes a bit of sense, considering the multitude of changes and cameos in the short series.

If you’re a LSH completist, you’ll want this. Trek fans that are comic fans I think will also enjoy the book.

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Review: The Lady is Blue: Book 1: Atrapako On Eden

The Lady is Blue: Book 1: Atrapako On Eden
The Lady is Blue: Book 1: Atrapako On Eden by Aurora Springer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an enjoyable read, but really more of a romance than a science fiction story, as the focus is on a relationship between a somewhat independent and headstrong female human scientist and a monstrous reptilian alien. The aliens are erstwhile colonists, looking for a new home and happen upon the planet Eden, which has already been colonized by people from Terra. Naturally, there are conflicts.

Their are two problems that I have with the book. The first is that the science of the climax just doesn’t work for me, as an avid sci-fi reader. I can’t go into it much without spoilers, so I’ll just say it doesn’t make sense to me. That fact doesn’t necessarily detract from the enjoyment of the story, as it’s fairly well written and edited. The second quirk is that the relationship between the two main characters is almost too quickly developed; even with many of the “bad” things that happen to them in the book, along with the strangeness of their relative cultures, there’s not a lot of emotional danger between Lucy and Sa Kamisan. I’m not sure if it’s just because I don’t read many romance novels, but that detracted from the story for me. I wanted a little more uncertainty, or to have the characters work a bit more for their relationship.

Other than that, it’s a pretty solid independent novel. I’d probably give this one 3.5 stars, but hey, I can’t do a half, so 4 it is!

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Review: Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok, Vol. 1

Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok, Vol. 1
Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok, Vol. 1 by Rich Buckler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is truly a work that’s ahead of its time by a decade. Deathlok’s original, unfettered series in Astonishing Tales was a highwater mark for Marvel in the seventies: It hit the ground running and there were so many thematic innovations. Cyberpunk, Robocop, The Matrix, and many other sci-fi franchises owe a debt to Deathlok, since a lot of the now-common place themes were done first in the stories reprinted in this volume. This is what Marvel should STILL be doing, instead of endless crossovers and events – creating and publishing good, solid stories.

Doug Moench manages to make what might be a convoluted tale interesting and understandable for the youngster I was when I read it for the first time. He also managed to make a reader feel for this death-dealing cyborg, which considering the body count of the series, was a near-miraculous feat itself. The artwork is pencilled by comic book legend Rich Buckler; if Jack Kirby was the King of Marvel Comics’ Sixties, Rich Buckler was the Crown Prince of the Seventies. The only artist who comes close to being as omnipresent (and as good) as him was the Royal Regent in the form of John Buscema.

This is a book any comic book of science fiction fan should have in their library. There is a cheaper color trade paperback of the same work out now (Deathlok the Demolisher The Complete Collection) as well, but if you can get this one for a reasonable price (I spent perhaps $10 more for this one than the trade on Amazon’s Marketplace), I think this is one to get, just for the durability.

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Review: Vulcan’s Glory

Vulcan's Glory
Vulcan’s Glory by D.C. Fontana
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was actually one of the better Star Trek novels I’ve read, covering the hitherto unexplored period of Mr. Spock joining the Enterprise crew (under Captain Christopher Pike). It’s well-written and there are a couple of interesting mysteries and some exploration of Spock’s off-duty life. All of this is great, particularly coming from Dorothy Fontana, one of the people responsible for so much in the original series.

The problem I have with the novel is that all of the interesting mysteries are solved or ended a bit too quickly – the ending of the book seems rushed and not planned out very well. A few more chapters, a few more pages, and maybe everything would’ve jelled together better.

Still, I’d recommend this one to any Trekker.

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Review: The Steve Ditko Omnibus, Vol. 1: Starring Shade, the Changing Man

The Steve Ditko Omnibus, Vol. 1: Starring Shade, the Changing Man
The Steve Ditko Omnibus, Vol. 1: Starring Shade, the Changing Man by Steve Ditko
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another excellent reprint collection from DC Comics, featuring the legendary Steve Ditko. I think that with the publication of these two omnibuses, and the Creeper book, that pretty much reprints all of Ditko’s DC work (or close to it).

This volume reprints two of his more esoteric series: the original Shade the Changing Man and Stalker. Shade was more science fiction than super-hero, and never got the chance to find a proper audience due to financial cutbacks at DC back in the mid-seventies. Stalker was part of the attempt by DC to cultivate a sword and sorcery/fantasy line to compete with Conan (I guess). The line was interesting, but only Warlord found a foothold with the buying public. Stalker’s interesting in that it’s the creation of Ditko and the late Wally Wood, making for some interesting and beautiful comic books.

The remainder of the book reprints Ditko’s stories for the anthology books, like Weird War Tales, Time Warp, and Ghosts. All great stories, too. It also reprints the appearance of the Odd Man from Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, a strip that was going to be the back-up for Shade, and eventually did show up in the pages of Detective Comics. This, however, is the black-and-white version from CCC.

This book is a great read for a comic fan and a pure delight for any fan of Steve Ditko’s work.

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