“Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood's End(Author: Arthur C. Clarke) + (Year: 1953) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I finished this book around a month ago, but I just didn’t know what to put in a review of it, so I kind of left it waiting… and it’s been a month now.

 

Despite my many attempts, Childhood’s End just didn’t work very well for me. It was definitely not without merit, but there were also certain things that were supposed to be important for the positive experience of the reader, but were not, for me.

For one, I don’t like the general atmosphere of old sci-fi novels. The idea of sci-fi has evolved a lot since the first books on the topic started getting published, and whether it is due to habit, or taste, I have never really been a fan of the concept of an alien invasion the way it is in Childhood’s End. There is this overreaching attempt to come up with a truly unique being which to be the prototype of the alien, and it usually ends up a lot more frightening than aliens in media nowadays.

Also, there was one crucial point that really disturbed me and which doesn’t seem to bother many other readers, from what I have seen since I finished the book. Namely, the Overmind. While the Overlords are strange in their own way, the Overmind is terrifying to me, in the fact that the Overmind is essentially an invader, while everyone in the book seems to think of it as a greater intelligence. The Overmind is a being with bigger resources and a hunger for minds which to feed into its own self. Therefore, what is so different between the Overmind and all of the humans who, thanks to bigger knowledge and more refined weapons, have conquered and all but destroyed valuable cultures? Just because the colonists had a different set of diseases to bring with them to the new countries they visited and the population of which they destroyed en masse, it doesn’t mean that they were actually superior in their worth. Just developed differently. So in the same way, I was deeply chilled by the general euphoria of the characters in the book when faced with the idea of joining the Overmind.

Nevertheless, there were moments when I enjoyed the book, especially in its musings on the creativity and productivity of people. This is not the first book which I have read that puts a focus on the fact that without a driving force and a certain level of humanity, people can’t produce works of art and science with the same quality. Even nowadays, art has become something rather grotesque and perverted and despite that, people are not really allowed to say so, as it would be seen as an assault to the right of certain “artists” to create. So we just go along with the notion that we are still creating, but in reality, and facing the facts of history and the great works of old art, what we create today is trash, masked as art. In a time when a big part of the population of the planet has enough means to survive and even thrive, we are already losing our ability to advance in art with value. At the same time, as we have not reached the point where everyone can have equal amounts of everything they need as everybody else, science is developing and yet hiding its biggest finds. For example, there have been many scientists who are said to have developed cures for different plagues of our century, such as cancer and HIV, but those people often die or disappear, because the useless medicine for the same diseases is expensive and therefore makes all the right people rich.

Having said all of that, I would conclude that I have a rather negative attitude toward the ultimate outcome of the book, but also, that I liked that it made me focus and think about some realities of our time that one often forgets exactly because they live in the same time.

Advertisements

“Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More” by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Captain Marvel, Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More(Author: Kelly Sue DeConnick) + (Year: 2014) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I guess Kelly Sue DeConnick and I are just not meant to be. I hoped that Captain Marvel would change my mind, but it did not.

This book’s basically a poor man’s Saga meeting a poor man’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Having read Ms Marvel before this, I thought that this will be the magnified experience and that I will love it even more than Ms Marvel. The sad reality of the situation was that Captain Marvel is too much space and too little heart.

The story took a rather unexpected turn from my expectations with Captain Marvel deciding to venture into space and be an outpost avenger. The explanation for that, her being restless and needing to find her place in the world, was just a bit too juvenile for my tastes. Her mission in space, reporting to the Avengers and saving a girl in a coma, didn’t really elicit any response in me. I kept expecting a more exciting story to appear out of nowhere. In vain.

So, we joined Captain Marvel on a short journey of her meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy and deciding to make a team of outcasts on her own. Her opponents, just as her friends, were rather weak and not really threatening, and the stakes were very low for a superhero. Captain Marvel’s speeches, though… They were so needlessly dramatic and over the top that I couldn’t help cringing. This is something that I remember noticing in DeConnick’s writing earlier, too. Nothing much is happening, but the characters are making it seem like a poor man’s Shakespearean tragedy.

What I disliked even more than this soulless execution was Captain Marvel’s head gear.

captain-marvel

Nice mohawk. Not.

I get it that suits are made to look formidable and badass, but this is not what I would call badass at all. What’s the purpose of that head gear? How does it make her a better fighter to have her hair pulled up in the middle of her head? What the heck?

And I’m not even going to start with this strange, useless little skirt-thing that she has.

Other than that, I generally liked the art and the big, colorful landscapes. That was probably the best part of this volume.

Considering how much people seem to like Captain Marvel’s series, I will give it another shot with the second volume, but I’m afraid that they lost me with this space theme, so if the next one is also like that, I will remain unimpressed.

“Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal” by G. Willow Wilson

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal(Author: G. Willow Wilson) + (Year: 2014) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Awesome!

I had started developing a small phobia of superhero comic books after a couple of unsuccessful attempts to read them (namely, and to my partner-in-crime’s huge disappointment, Hawkeye). The thing is, I love the Marvel movies, I also like a lot of the DC movies. But the comic books just don’t live up to it a lot of the time.

Ms. Marvel definitely did, though. This comic book was so cool and unconventional, that I couldn’t help but really like it. It’s just so original and a lot more heartfelt than some of the other superheroes’ origin stories. Part of this might come from the fact that I have been over-saturated by movies about Batman and Superman’s sap stories, but Ms. Marvel is something else altogether.

As a character, she is a big dork, so I can definitely sympathize. However, she also comes from a very conservative family and background and this volume does a good job at trying to explain this culture in an easy-to-swallow kind of way. It also tries to show the soul of the regular Muslim family, instead of the inhumane side of Islam that we see through terrorism. Considering the fact that I, myself, despite being a Christian, have spent a lot of time among Muslims, I know that I have a different view of them and that many people do have a hard time understanding the difference between Islam and radicalism. Ms. Marvel is not subtle about trying to explain that to its readers, but nevertheless, the authors have burdened themselves with a rather unorthodox and admirable task.

tumblr_inline_n0ftxw99e51r61u22

I also thought that the story was generally very cute and light-hearted, unlike many of the superhero comic books that I’ve read. In that sense, it kind of reminded me of Batgirl, back when I loved it. The atmosphere was fun and exciting, instead of depressing and dark, so to me, it was a big plus.

The art was pretty but in a way which was as equally unconventional, as the book itself. The characters were drawn in a cartoonish but pretty way, and with some very nice colors.

13318933-_sx540_

I’m definitely adding Ms. Marvel to my list. The only drawback is that the list never seems to get shorter. Eh…

“Saga, Vol. 7” by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga, Vol. 7(Author: Brian K. Vaughan) + (Year: 2017) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I definitely liked this volume more than the previous one. Aside from the story being a lot more thought-through and less transitional than the one in the previous volume, it was also a lot more serious and mature.

In fact, I think this is one of the most serious volumes of Saga in general. Despite Prince Robot’s ding dong close ups and everything…

Two things made this volume more grown up for me:

  1. The refugee crisis. It was reflected 1:1 as what we see in our day-to-day reality. The native population of Phang was how the author wanted us to see the real refugees as well. There was the element of religion, the element of outside intrusion, and also that of the innocence/fanaticism of the locals.
  2. This quote:

“You know that old cliche about the millions of deaths being a statistic… while the loss of just one life is a tragedy?

If that’s true, what is it when you lose something that never even had a chance to be born?

I’ve had lots of relationships in my lifetime, platonic or otherwise, but the ones I think about most are those that never quite made it to term.

I guess I’m just haunted by all that potential energy.

One moment the universe presents you with this amazing opportunity for new possibilities…

…and then…

I also saw in this volume that the stories of the characters are finally moving forward, all of them, from Hazel’s family, to The Will. I’m looking forward to the new volumes.

“Saga, Vol. 6” by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga, Vol. 6(Author: Brian K. Vaughan) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I spent a really long time waiting for this. I started reading the issues from the volume months ago, but only ever read all of it just now, and something was missing from the experience.

Whether it was the long period of waiting, or the quality of the volume itself, I wasn’t as satisfied as I usually am when I am reading Saga.

The stories have started feeling somewhat flimsier and less corporeal. The characters don’t seem to evolve much, and despite the big time jumps, nothing much is actually happening. For example, what I noticed in this volume is that when the story kind of froze for Hazel, everyone else also didn’t manage to do anything much. By the story “freezing” what I mean is that they had a rather uneventful period of time, or say, a period which was not necessarily important to the main plot. So as Hazel’s story didn’t evolve into any plot-changing events, neither did anyone else’s. It seems like they were all just waiting for the volume to pick up so that they can continue living. It’s something that happens in all series, of course, but for all intents and purposes, it somehow affected Saga badly for me.

I have one more volume to catch up with, so I hope things will balance themselves once again.