Recently Read: Dungeon Quest: Book One, by Joe Daly

Dungeon Quest - by Joe Daly

Dungeon Quest - by Joe Daly

I’m a big RPG nerd (surprise!)  I’ve always loved RPGs in any form:  Tabletop D&D (nerd wife actually has a D&D tattoo, lol – ok, it’s supposed to be my initials PD, but it looks kinda like DD), console RPGs (Japanese, western, strategy), MMORPG (I’ve played most of them).  There’s something about the questing and leveling up I just dig.  So, when I saw there was an original graphic novel (OGN) coming out spoofing the adventure RPG I knew I had to read it.  It was so much greater than I hoped for.  That book:  Dungeon Quest: Book One, by South African cartoonist Joe Daly.

Story in brief – Millenium Boy – a freakish little character with a head hinting at Megalencephaly – decides he needs an adventure because homework sucks and he’s sick of watching Dr. Phil.  So he collects his starting level gear (bandana, pocket knife, hobo stick with food) and heads off into Glendale to start his adventure.  He collects a few other characters Steve (starting weapon: Baseball bat, class: developing rogue), Lash Penis (dumbells, warrior/tank), and Nerdgirl (Archer, practitioner of Kyudo-Japanese Archery).  Together they begin their quest, at first starting fighting just local bullies, but later on after levelling up their equipment more dangerous foe.

Anyway, its a great sendup of the RPG genre in general, complete with level up screens each time a fight ends or equipment is updated.  WARNING: This is definitely not for kids.  It contains harsh language and multiple references and views on penis.  (Including an explanation of why Lash Penis is named Lash Penis.)  All in all though, if you like the RPGs, or even know what they are all about, you’ll really enjoy this.  I highly recommend it, and will be looking forward to Book Two sometime soon.

Recently Read: “Marked!” by Bob Bristow, or Rape and the Virgin Male

“He’d made one mistake – a big one – and it involved a woman  . . .”

Marked! - by Bob Bristow

Marked! - by Bob Bristow

So reads the teaser text on “Marked!”, a 1961 Dell First Edition by Bob Bristow.  I read this on my recent business trip while the plane was taxiing and landing and I couldn’t use my Kindle (which is something that drives me crazy, since the Kindle is about as inert as a digital watch when its receiver is turned off).  Published originally in 1961, I was expecting some misogyny, some political incorrectness and straightforward pulp goodness.  However, I got a bit more than I was expecting with this one … and it led to a really interesting reading experience.

The back cover text reads in part: “He had been a lover for ten minutes and a rapist for thirty seconds. For the rest of his life he would carry the stigma. The oversexed, brazen girl turned out to be a frightened virgin and had branded him forever as a sex criminal …”  So I knew this was going to be a bit on the questionable side, but this is pulp from the 60’s, you expect a bit of controversial content to a modern sensibility.  But, as much as I go in with an open mind to these books, this one even made me cringe a little.  Spoilers follow, but I think that’s ok since I don’t think you’re going to be finding this at your local library.  Nevertheless, if you plan on searching it out, you may want to avoid this review.   Continue reading

Recently Read: Shadow of the Wind

Shadow of the Wind - by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Shadow of the Wind - by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is probably my favorite novel of all time.  I mean this without a hint of hyperbole.  It’s been so long since I’ve contemplated a statement like this that I am nervous about expressing it, but I believe it is true. Don’t even read this review just go out and get this book.  Don’t wait for it at the library, go buy it.  You’ll want to read it again.

The plot of Shadow of the Wind is difficult to describe in a sentence or two.  It is the story of a young man (Daniel Sempere) who comes into possession of a rare book in a mysterious secret library called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.  After falling in love with the novel, he seeks to learn more about the author (Julian Carax).  From there the mystery begins as no one seems to know much of the author and Daniel discovers that someone has been seeking out and destroying all copies of Carax’s works. Continue reading

Recently Read: Pleasure Model

Pleasure Model - by Christopher Rowley

Wow.  Haven’t finished a book in awhile where I felt so conflicted afterwards.  Pleasure Model by Christopher Rowley is the first book to be published by Tor in their Heavy Metal Pulp line.  For those unfamiliar, the line is based off of the Heavy Metal graphic magazine that was the influence for a number of animated movies over the past few decades, and remains a popular adult graphic adventure magazine.  The idea is to take story lines similar to what you would find in the magazine, write them up as prose novels in the style of old pulp adventures, and then have an illustrator add illustrations to almost every page.

The result was, if nothing else, a lot of fun.   I’ll start my review literally from the cover.  The book contains a beautiful painted pulp-style cover by Gregory Manchess.  This is what originally sold me on the book.  As I’ve admitted previously this type of cover will get me to buy a book just so I have the art. Continue reading

Recently Read: Expiration Date

Expiration Date - by Duane Swierczynski

I love Duane Swierczynski.  Not the man, I’ve never met him (although I hope to at a con sometime in the future).  No, I love his writing.  I’ve read just about every piece of fiction he’s written, from his crime novels to his comics.  And I think things just keep getting better.

His newest is Expiration Date.  Like all of his previous crime novels, I just hated reaching the end because it is just pure fun.  It’s a crime story where he’s taken the time jumping elements of his run on the Cable comic and blended them perfectly.  From what he’s written about the history of Expiration Date I’m sure the ideas from the novel informed his Cable run and not vice versa, but since Cable was published first I’m sure many will see it as working the other way.

Anyway, the plot in brief revolves around a recently unemployed journalist (Swierczynski is a former journalist himself) who after losing his job finds himself living in his grandfathers apartment.  He takes some old aspirin he finds in his grandfather’s cabinet and wakes up in the year he was born.  He soon finds himself investigating what led to his father’s murder when he was a child.  The whole thing has a beautiful Twilight Zone feel to it.  And Swierczynski proves once again that he knows how to write a fast paced, fun crime story with a twist.  If you read quick, you can knock this puppy out in one night.  Of course, that would mean that you’ll be regretting that you have reached the end that much sooner.

Recent Reads: Deadhouse Gates

Deadhouse Gates

Erikson - Deadhouse Gates

Earlier this year, I decided I was going to re-read the first 2 books of the brilliant Steven Erikson series Malazan Book of the Fallen before attempting to read all 9 published volumes in a row prior to the publication of the 10th and final volume at the end of the year.  My quest is now 2/10 of the way done with the completion of Book 2 – Deadhouse Gates.

For those that haven’t read, Erikson’s Malazan series is fantasy, but this is not your standard Forgotten Realms/R.A. Salvatore light reading fantasy.  No, Erikson’s world is much darker, much more complex, and much less well explained. This is not a bad thing though, but it does make the series difficult to get into for many people.  It’s like being thrown into a country where people speak your language, but all of the local dialect, customs and rules are foreign to you.  You need to work to understand what’s going on, but when you get it … what a rush.

I compare this favorably with my two favorite fantasy authors – George R.R. Martin and Scott Bakker.  In fact, I think with the exception of Tolkein and Martin, I don’t think you can find such a richly developed fantasy world.  This being my second reading, and the first time I read it back to back with the first volume, Gardens of the Moon, I can definitely say I got more out of it.  Not that you need to read them back to back since most of the characters are new, but it definitely helps to fully grasp what’s going on.

While I’m tempted to take a break before the even longer 3rd volume, I plan to start it tonight.  I’ll leave lighter reading for breaks at work.  My quest must continue.