Stephen King’s The Stand: book 1 Captain Trips/ Aguirre-Sacasa, Perkins & Martin

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This isn’t “horror fiction” per we. Not like the written work. Good primer and intro to Stephen King’s seminal work though. I’ve not read the book, though I understand this graphic novel adaption takes the reader through how the plague started, introducing the main characters who are somehow immune to it, as well as the mysterious Walk’in Dude.

This work collects issues 1 to 5. Made me want to read book 2.

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The past and the punishments

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ISBN: 9780824818173

Eight stories translated from Chinese/ Mandarin.

P.267 “what unites these restlessly innovative, willfully provocative stories is Yu Hua’s almost obsessive preoccupation with the twin spectres of Chinese history (“the past”) and the human capacity for cruelty and violence (“the punishments”).”

Classical Love – a ghost story/ love story, Chinese style: Scholar meets maiden; falls in love; hunger and cannibalism; maiden is killed;scholar meets maiden again and wondering if she’s a ghost.

Blood and plum blossoms – another swordfighting genre-based story; Plum Blossom Sword.

The death of a landlord – Japanese invasion of China; young man forced to lead them to a town.

Some were rather surreal (“The past and the punishments”) and bloody (“1986”; p133 lists the various ways of execution by torture through the eras of Chinese rule).

The translator’s postscript section gives more context (and sense) to the stories, some of which were pretty macabre.

Futurama: The time bender trilogy/ created by Matt Groening; story by Ian Boothby

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Futurama: The Time Bender Trilogy
ISBN: 9780061118074

If you enjoyed the TV series, then this is more of the funny stuff from Matt Groening.

Four chapters of the same fantastic, parodies and satirical dialogues and situations. I thought the gags are just as funny and goofy.

Bender, Leela, Fry and Cubert (the clone-son of professor Farnsworth) end up getting into trouble after trying to enrol Cubert in a school off-world.

Then they return to Earth and find it totally abandoned. Next they have to save Earth from being claimed by aliens. Then they have to rescue the population of earth, who have been sent back in time by an accident. Leela, Bender and Fry are sucked back into different parts of time, in more crazy unbelievable situations: Leela in mythological Greece; Bender in puritanical North America, and Fry in an alternate battlefield Earth. Of course, all’s well that ends well.

Looking for Jake: Stories/ China Miéville

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Looking for Jake: Stories
ISBN: 0345476077

These short stories attest to Mieville’s talent in expanding the ordinary little occurrences in life, into amazing — and at times, dark and brooding — stories.

I think Mieville has a talent for transforming perspectives. Like the short story, “Details”, about an old woman who is convinced she is pursued by monsters. We may have seen those monsters too: when we look at clouds, patterns on tiles or edges of lines; faces or body shapes peering out, conjured by our mind’s eye. (note: there’s a term for it – pareidolla).

Another thing that struck me was that China Mieville brings a certain level of sophistication to Fantasy. That was my conclusion by his third short story, “The Ballroom” (creepy tale of a haunted playroom).

Mieville does what great storyteller do: he teases stuff from your imagination. Without you realising it. He takes seemingly simple (even absurd) ideas and transforms them into tales that appear like they have been there forever.

Also, he is able to take an idea and weave a story (you try writing a story of feral streets!)

Speaking of Wild streets (“Reports of certain events in London”): I wondered if Mieville walked past an old street one day, and asked what if streets could walk away?

“You watch the man who comes and speaks to buildings” (P25. “Foundations”).

P53. Reports of certain events in London. What if some streets were alive and goes feral? Or that they are as untamed and unknowable as wild animals?

Beautiful, concise prose: “It parsed the grammar of brick and neglected industry” (p89).

P197. The ending to “‘Tis the season” shows Mieville’s brand of humour (a tale of a citizen’s uprising of a franchised Christmas; the scale of commercialisation at which was blatant and yet makes me wonder “why didn’t I think of that?”).

The story “Jack” is based on one of his Steampunk idea: the “Remade”; people who have been sent to Punishment Factories and parts of their body replaced and regrafted with animal or steam-driven machinery, or both. Ends with a twist (concerning the narrator).

“On the way to the front” is done in graphic novel style. I didn’t get the story though.

“The Tain” (fantastic piece; longest story in this collection) is about the idea of our reflections being creatures from another world. Who decide to rebel and take over the human one. But I have articulated it so inelegantly. You have to read the story.

Mieville is a genius in this collection.

Stories in this collection:

  • Looking for Jake (disappearance of a friend; hints of some catastrophic and mysterious event in London)
  • Foundation (a dark tale of a man who can communicate with buildings; feeds them too)
  • The ball room (creepy haunted play room)
  • Reports of certain events in London (discovery of wild streets)
  • Familiar (magic; of a animated thing achieving consciousness and taking over its master)
  • Entry taken from a medical encyclopedia (a spoken word that can cause insanity)
  • Details (old lady; pursued by patterns in walls)
  • Go between (a man who’s roped in as a courier, but by people unknown to him and unclear of thwarted mission. He wonders if certain acts were caused by his actions/ inaction)
  • Different skies (a retiree who installed an antique window that leads to a different era; tormented by kids from that era)
  • An end to hunger (a hacker who hacks the End To Hunger website, and pays the price)
  • ‘Tis the season (Christmas franchised to the extreme; and a plot to take it back)
  • Jack (a Remade story)
  • On the way to the front
  • The Tain (imagos, vampires, human anarchy. Apparently Mieville was inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’s “Fauna of Mirrors”, from The Book of Imaginary Beings, and Schwarz and Fjeld’s “Illusions Induced by the Self-reflected Image”).

Hellboy: Darkness calls/ Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo & Dave Stewart

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Hellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness Calls
ISBN: 9781593078966

Made into a movie, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”.

The plot, as I remember it: a bunch of witches want to make Hellboy their King. He tells them to ‘Screw it’. They opt to elect another. Hellboy is somehow abducted to another realm (part of a deal to prevent him from stopping the witches’ plan). Hellboy is pursued by his nemesis, Baba Yaga, who sends her henchman (who cannot die unless his hidden soul is destroyed). Hellboy makes it back but the story is only beginning, it seems. For ‘she’ has been released. Just who this Queen of witches is, the mystery just adds to the suspense.

Introduction by Jane Yolen sums up the uniqueness of this particular storyline; there’s a weave of “historical reality” (i.e. the Salem Witch trials), folklore, theology, “Celtic miasma”, Ragnarok, Russian demonology (Baba Yaga? Rasputin, Koshchei The Deathless, Vasilisa, russian house spirit) and “the cosmic End of the World scenarios from many cultures”.

And Jane Yolen being Jane Yolen, she sums up beautifully: “It is a deeply human story for all its monsters”.

Art by Duncan Fegredo, who has his own style but overall still sticks to the familiar and signature Mignola’s line and shadow work.

Abe Sapien: The Drowning/ Mike Mignola & Jason Shawn Alexander

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Abe Sapien: The Drowning
ISBN: 9781595821850

The story centres on Hellboy’s sidekick, Abraham Sapien — half man and half fish.

He is sent as part of a team, to investigate an underwater wreck. They unwittingly awaken a warlock (whose minions look like little asian wizards and have interesting individual powers) who, in the process of being re-animated, absorb the lifeforce of the village. Obviously, he’s an evil that Abe Sapien has to stop.

The human-ness of Abe shows through, in his self-doubt and also eventual conquering of his fears.

The goon: Rough stuff/ Eric Powell

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cover
ISBN: 1593070861
NLB Call No.: 741.5973 GOO [ART]

An ‘origin’ story, of how the Goon became what he is.

Government agents are after the Goon. The goon reveals how he ended up working for the mobster Labrazio.

There’s a secret between Labrazio and the Goon, ‘cos no one’s seen Labrazio. I’ve posted the “secret” here, for my own reference.

But you read the book to find out 🙂

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