All posts by Shannon McMaster

Shelley by Vandermeulen and Casanave

u3bexy1o0eqz5rsx7pkskwzkvjinm2nx-couv-1200Perfect for the ravenous reader of graphic novels, Romanic poets, or people who are clever. The prose guides the reader along the high points of Shelley’s early adulthood with breezy language and mod characterizations. The art is a fun combination of the style popularized in ’80’s alt-comics (notably From Hell), and early 20th Century comic strips like Thimble Theatre. On the whole, pleasant, and I am looking forward to the next volume.

Ebook only.

Catwoman, Vol. 1: Copycats

Visually striking, but ultimately a little thin, this new presentation of Selina Kyle too easily treads well-worn paths. The characterization of Catwoman hints at comics continuity in ways which barely matter, while moving too quickly through harrowing emotional beats which could have grounded the story for real-world readers. Nearly unbearable emotional pain gets replaced with impossibly low-consequence physical suffering (a five story fall ends with two broken ribs, and maybe something else, and glossed with a single panel of a close-up grimace). This is a stylish collection, but very little seems to lie beneath the surface.

Relic: Alan Dean Foster at His Height

If the amount equal to enough Alan Dean Foster is ever reached, this novel could well float to the top of that worthy list. Relic moves smoothly from post-apocalypse, to technical exploration, to Adam and Eve, with the strains of galactic diplomacy and space opera through out. Relic is fun to read. It never settles into well-worn grooves, but knows firmly what story it is telling.

Ruslan’s experience as the Last Man in the World, the relic of the title, is nicely subverted by the spinning planets of galactic civilizations and the likelihood that, given enough people and enough human colony worlds, even events with long odds come to pass.

The writing is brisk, and the worlds well developed. Ruslan and the other characters drive the action by their motivations and choices. A very enjoyable and thought-provoking novel.

Antiracism: An Introduction by Alex Zamalin

This remarkable primer gives depth and breadth to a simple word with a complex meaning. People who mean well, but don’t really know what they mean will find context, grounding, and pointers for future action–and this is a book all about the importance of informed action. People with more robust knowledge will find a succinct overview, and a clear framework for engaging the racist structures of American society.

Chocolate Cities

An amazingly evocative way of understanding African American culture across time, and across the country. By drawing on biographical sketches, Hunter and Robinson evoke the network of places, the Chocolate Cities, that black people have created. The authors carefully balance the regional distinctions (many Souths in USA, a concept worth exploring on its own) against the cultural and historic similarities shared by these places.

The people we meet, from Afeni Shakur to W.E.B. Du Bois, from Ida B. Wells Keegan Michael Key, and from Marsha P. Johnson to James Baldwin, are–before all else–people. Every life happens somewhere, often several somewheres, and with other people, and it is these connections to place and lives which allow the authors to illuminate the importance of Chocolate Cities by demonstrating that their existence is the flip side and outgrowth of the human lives they contain.

But you should see this amazing cover.9780520292833