Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Hugos: A Crap Lousy Tie: Dune VS And Call Me Conrad

Perhaps it is only the simple, lazy, joys of my warm summer beard. Perhaps it is the lower back pain, and badly digesting Cheetos. But 1966's Hugo winners can both go to hell right now as far as I'm concerned.

Frank Herbert also had a warm summer beard. He knew stuff about politics, religion, and ecology.

Roger Zelazny was less bearded, but more smokey. And he knew stuff about gods, myths, and martial arts.

'Dune' was a staggering work of genius which I gave 5 stars out of 5!

'...And Call Me Conrad' also got a Hugo in 1966.

Why? I imagine that back in 1966, every possible voter was as high on "the spice melange" as a satyr with radiation poisoning.

What I'm saying is: I liked 'Dune' the way a Fremen likes Shai'hulud. I worshipped that damn behemoth of a book, moaning and writhing its weary, giant path across the sands of history and into my local library. It had immense scope, wild imagination, and bizarre creatures, cultures, and settings.

I think '...And Call Me Conrad' had an alien in it. He might have been touring the dismal grey crapyard that is future Earth with some tedious, long-winded, fuckwad called Conrad.

'Dune's been made into a kick-ass (if not girl-friendly) movie, a 'spensive effects 'stravagana for TV, and Herbert's kid is STILL writing fine sequels by the Space Guild Carrier-Full.

'...And Call Me Conrad' has an ellipsis RIGHT IN THE TITLE!!!

But, Mike, I hear you saying, I LIKE Roger Zelazny. I LIKE his soul-numbing, airy-fairy flights of fantasy. I LIKE how he talks down to me and has nothing uplifting to offer about humanity! Good on you, dear reader. Perhaps you can recommend something RZ wrote that did NOT win a Hugo for best novel that I might like. (PS: not 'Lords of Light')

Actually, I gave '...A.C.M. Conrad' 2 stars out of five, so I apparently thought it was actually O.K., but I'm in a spiteful mood right now, like the Baron Harkonnen spitting in the face of my Vegan betters. After all, I don't have a Hugo award. I don't even have a disfigured mutant face, a drug addiction, or immortality, which might have helped me out in 1966. I'm just trying to say I'd rather ride the Giant Party Worm to holy war with Paul than smoke fags on a yacht with that jaded douche-bag Conrad.

I'm not sure where sci-fi gives the impression that it's not girl-friendly.

Also on the downside for 'Dune', it gave sci-fi and fantasy writers EVER AFTER the erroneous idea that MORE is always BETTER. "Tolkien and Herbert did it! I can too! I'll witter on aimlessly for 800 pages, throw in a dragon and I'll sell a billion! Wheeeee!"

So, there you have it. Cranky, ill-considered, jibber-jabber from a guy who thinks this freaky cat-as-burrito picture is worth more than the time I lost reading '...And Call Me Conrad'.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Hugos: The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber

From the drunk genius who brought the world Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (and many other amazing works) came the winner of the 1965 Hugo and my heart, 'The Wanderer'.

The Wanderer of the title is a mobile planet that suddenly appears in the orbit of Earth and begins siphoning the sea, wrecking the tides, kicking ass and generally NOT taking names.

Picture it, hanging there in the sky: a whole damn planet, yellow and purple and much, much too close.

It's a rollicking disaster movie of a book, as we leap omnipotently from group of struggling, shocked humans to group of struggling, terrfied humans, all trying to divine the purpose of the Wanderer in shattering their lives and cities.

And what sucks the most is finding out why.

It's the second novel by Fritz Leiber to win the Hugo, and I gave it 4 stars out of 5 on I really want somebody to try to make it as a modern movie, but they'd probably find a way to ruin what I imagined.
Like the folks behind this cinematic series of turds undoubtedly did.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Comic Review: The Ten Doctors by Richard Morris

Seriously, you guys! You guys. Seriously.

There is no way to review this comic without gushing like the world's nerdiest nerd.

Yesterday while browsing for Doctor Who images I found these charming pages coloured by eclecticmuse. Following her links, I learned that they comprised the first six pages of a 247 page epic romp from the pencil of Canadian storyboard artist and probably my new favorite human Rich Morris.

Between 2007 and 2009 he posted 'The Ten Doctors', an unofficial and astonishing comic. Not endorsed by, but featuring, elements from 40 years worth of BBC's Doctor Who series. Crafted by a writer-artist of the highest caliber.

1983's anniversary special 'The Five Doctors' brought together (try and keep up) 4 (sort of) versions of the time-travelling alien called The Doctor on a convoluted adventure wherein he and his companions battle foes from twenty years of his TV history. This adventure comic revisits the concept but with the limitless boundaries of an unfettered comic instead of a budget TV special.

I exaggerate not even slightly when I tell you this is the finest Doctor Who comic I've ever had the pleasure to read. By turns I was laughing out loud, thrilling to what the next bizarre plot twist might be, or wondering where the next left-field cameo was coming from. I marvelled at the characterization of all 10 Doctors bickering with and befriending one another, and of 20 plus companions getting into and out of jams with varying degrees of skill and pluck. Oh, the villainy! Oh, the hijinx! Of all things- the touching farewells.

There is nothing like this anywhere- published.

Will the BBC buy the rights and make a book-length graphic novel? Only time will tell. This was clearly a labour of love, but I'd still like to give this guy my money for a coloured, bound hardcopy of this impossibly good story.

Maybe I can colour it myself...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Good Reads

Apart from new tasks at work and new bandages at my arm, this week brought me a new web site to devote all my time to...

And it has very little nudity! (I know, I know, then who cares, right?)

At the behest of the inestimable DoctorTeeth I joined There you can keep track of all the books you've read, compare them with friends (assuming you can find any friends apart from books), and rate them out of five stars. (Your books, not your friends. Your friends do not want to be rated out of five stars.)

The rating system is very cool- point the cursor at the number of stars and from 1-5 you get an emotional vslue: didn't like it, it was o.k., liked it, really liked it, and it was amazing. That makes rating books easy and fast! Also, (though I haven't done this yet) you can write reviews. Reviews are cool! And I've read a lotta stuff! (MOSTLY COMICS)

Learn new things today- such as that DRTEETH doesn't like Ferris Beuller! I didn't even know that Ferris HAD a book! I give that notion 3 stars... and DRTEETH 5 stars. He's AMAZING!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


It's been a crummy Wednesday morning. Actually pretty crappy.

My day began with an eerie portent from my Alphabits: 5:25 AM, slurping down the last of my milk and there it is. Four soggy letters perched atop three, all right side up. 'BWAr ASP'.

Beware Asp? I thought- Where am I gonna run into a poisonous serpent in darkest Canada?

I forgot about it at the dentist. I'm a new patient there, but he seems like a great guy, and I don't blame him a bit. These things happen. However, it was, (in the words of the great Jabba the Hutt) 'a new definition of pain and suffering'. A simple cavity filling, even after FOUR shots was the most wretched I've ever felt in a dentist chair.

Pulses shooting down my entire body. Fleeting, but still awful, wracking pain. I thought- I've been SO freakin' lucky up to now!
Then I thought- go to a happy place. (It worked for Happy Gilmore.)

I hid in my imagination- dwelling on every detail of a nude drawing I made last month. (see deviantart)
I cowered in an episode of Deep Space Nine I haven't seen in ages.
And in the midst of worst of it, I found myself back on my honeymoon in Florida. (no pictures, kids)
As usual, me wife saves me life.

And, when it was over, on my way back to work, I got dizzy/momentarily passed-out(?) and crashed my bike.
Scraped the hell out of my elbow, wrenched my whole arm.
Dutch or German-sounding passers-by saved my bike from the car just behind me in the road and inquired after my status. I hobbled back to the dentist and caught a ride home with my wife.
See? Me wife saves me life.

Now, where, in all that, was the asp?

Ah, what the hell. I LIVE!