Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 2: Time Travel, Different Dimensions, and Free Love

Tonight (running a bit late but if I don't go to sleep, I'm counting it as the same day) I wanted to pop by and mention what I've been reading.

Working out of Boston gives me a bit of train time for reading, and I've been focused on getting through Robert Heinlein's works. For those who are unfamiliar with Heinlein, he's a speculative fiction author who frequently pushes the bounds of understanding with his glib pseudo-science rooted in actual science. He passes off time travel and dimensional travel almost as if they were a common commodity to the characters that could otherwise be based in current times (well, current for Heinlein, anyway, who wrote the last entry in 1987). I've focused on his books featuring Lazarus Long, know as his "Future History" series:

I might have started calling my cat "Pixel"
Time Enough for Love: Technically I read this years ago, but it was my introduction to the series and was a solid introduction to Lazarus long and the peculiar future in which one man is the ancestor to most of the wayward human race across time and space.

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls: A fast paced book that doesn't care if you understand what's going on as the characters are pushed or pulled from one direction to another. It's been compared to The Hitchhiker's Guide but I think that's rubbish. Maybe if you made the Guide a touch more serious with hyper-intelligent characters, humorous wordplay, and an excessive amount of *ahem* free love, maybe I could see it. But it's not quirky so much as intense.

To Sail Beyond the Sunset: In which we learn about Lazarus' immoral mother and her extensive back-story (most of which is spent in a timeline slightly different than our own but set in a similar time frame that includes World War I and II. It's Heinlein's last published work but makes a very solid introduction to his writing -- it spends a lot more time explaining how all of the characters become so hyper-intelligent and accepting of things such as incest and open (loving) infidelity. Also, the writing is just a touch more polished than other entries in the series, which could be beneficial to someone trying to get a handle on Heinlein's writing style. Also references some short stories of Heinlein's that can be found in his book Expanded Universe, which was a nice touch.

The Number of the Beast: I tried reading this one some time ago but couldn't get past the absurd speed in which the characters approached things such as marriage or other things I'd never seen done so brazenly. Entire novels could be spent around the moral dilemmas Heinlein's characters analyze and overcome in seconds. Not to mention they're all able to get fabulously wealthy and have expansive back stories before we ever meet them. This book delves a bit more into the dimensional and time travel, however, and doesn't hold back in regards to the idea of "the world as myth." The characters may or may not visit Oz. Yeah. Yellow Brick Road and all.

Don't mind the ship's name...
There are a couple more I haven't gotten to, but I'll get to them eventually. For those interested in the series, start with Time Enough for Love. It introduces Lazarus the best and, once you've accepted him and his tales, everything is a bit easier to take. Just remember, if you're left in the dust with the facts and sciences being thrown at you, roll with the punches!

In comics, I have been focusing all of my intention on Fables, which I am not up the 9th trade paper back. That's a bit more than fifty single issues. Most series I've collected for this long tend to fluctuate in quality or general interest (ie, Star Wars: Legacy or Knights of the Old Republic). Fables has, if anything, gotten better with every set of stories. They've even leapt the hurdle of revealing the big bad known as the Adversary and STILL keeping the Homeland plot interesting. If this were a TV show, they'd have to kill him off or defeat him seriously in the first season. With Fables, appropriate time is being taken to really appreciate the villains of this story, while still building individual lives for the Fable-folk set in modern day New York City.
Loving this series more and more.

The series also has my favorite romance in a comic series. I've never wanted two characters to come together quite as badly as I've wanted to see Bigby and Snow White hit it off. And Fables does it while still spanning years in mere issues.

I'm very pleased with the series and look forward to someday catching up.

Only other comic news to report, then, is that Saga still proves to be awesome, it's just coming out too damn slow for my preference.

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