Tue, 22 Oct 2013

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

As most people are by now aware, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen's classic that adds a plague of zombies to the book's setting and plot.

I have to say that while I was looking forward to the book, its execution left me wanting. The zombie storyline feels like a veneer laid over the original storyline in a way that doesn't really add much to that original story. I feel like the zombies are just a gimmick that don't hold up for an entire book. Pretty much the only thing that kept me reading was my love for the original story, which remains mostly unchanged beneath the zombie veneer.

Seth Grahame-Smith has recharacterized several of the people, mostly making them more violent and bloodthirsty--Elizabeth is a Chinese-trained "master of the deadly arts", and Lady Catherine is a noted zombie slayer with an entourage of ninjas--but everyone takes pretty much the same actions and ends up in the same places. At least one character becomes a zombie and is killed, but not until after her presence in the original plot is finished. I think this sameness is what led me not to really engage with Grahame-Smith's additions: the original was a deliciously sarcastic commentary on 19th century people of wealth layered in with a genuinely compelling story of the development of characters' personal relationships1. The zombie additions don't change the story enough to make a statement of their own, but they do serve to obscure some of the themes and characterizations of the original, so their presence is a net negative.

All in all, I probably would have been better off just reading Pride and Prejudice again.

1 One of the great things about Pride and Prejudice is that it's pretty feminist-friendly. Sure, it's a tale of two people who take a long time and a lot of minsunderstandings to finally come together and realize their True Love(tm), but two of the things I've always appreciated about it are: 1) Elizabeth is given agency to choose her own path in life and 2) the reason it's okay that they end up together is that when she tells Darcy what her issues are with him, he listens. How often does that happen in popular love stories?

Mon, 12 Feb 2007

E Pluribus Unicorn

E Pluribus Unicorn is a collection of short stories by Theodore Sturgeon. All of the stories were written between 1947 and 1953, though they don't seem very dated, aside from occasional archaic-sounding language usage.

The stories are mostly fantasy, though some could be considered almost horror; many are certainly unsettling, most notably The Professor's Teddy-Bear, with Bianca's Hands (and perhaps A Way of Thinking) a close second. Die, Maestro, Die! reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe, in structure, if not in style. There's an element of melancholy in several of the stories, including The SIlken-Swift, Scars (which has no elements on fantasy, but is simply a good story), and especially A Saucer of Loneliness.

Overall, I enjoyed the collection; I hadn't read much by Sturgeon before, and I quite like his writing.

Thu, 22 Jun 2006

War of Honor

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It's past five in the morning. I've been up reading for almost the last four hours because I wanted to finish the book. It's good. The pace is much slower than I remember previous Honor Harrington books being, but things do move along.

Reading all of the Honor anthologies before this book is highly recommended.

Spoilers below.

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Mon, 07 Mar 2005

The Alleluia Files

This book forms the third in Sharon Shinn's Samaria trilogy, being preceeded by Archangel and Jovah's Angel. I still think Archangel is the best of the set, though The Alleluia Files is a fairly decent book.

The Alleluia Files again contains many trappings of romance, though there are two romances this time, and consequently neither is as well developed as previous books'. For me, the one in Archangel is still my favorite, which I realized is probably because of the way Shinn weaves music throughout the romance and the rest of the book. It's still a very important part of this book, but not to the same degree as in Archangel.

I'm afraid I'll have to do the majority of my discussion of the book below the spoiler barrier, since I don't want to spoil either this or Archangel for those that have not read them.

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Excel Saga, volume 01

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I'm a fan of the anime series and I saw the first two volumes of the manga in the book store, so I decided to give it a read. I like it.

This is the first manga I've really read that went right-to-left. It is arguably more true to the original format (no reflections or rearrangement needed), but it can be harder for americans to follow. I found myself adapting to the format much more quickly than I thought I would, however.

I like the footnotes supplied in these manga. The American editor decided to leave many of the sound effects in the manga, which is not too surprising given the fact that they're often as decorative as they are descriptive. In lieu of translation, there are gootnotes for all of the sound effects. Much of the time, you can get the gist of the soungs from other context, but it's nice to be able to look to the back of the book and see exactly what's going on.

There are also general translation notes, mostly noting places where American idioms or similar things were substituted for Japanese concepts. It's a tribute to the editor that I barely noticed most of these; the story flowed well.

According to notes in the volume, Excel Saga was a doujinshi that went pro. Didn't realize that was how it started.

Discussion of differences between the anime and manga occurs below.

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Excel Saga, volume 3

Excel Saga 03 continues along the path set by volumes one and two: weird situations, not-so-smart Excel, not-so-healthy Hyatt, not-so-successful Il Palazzo, some satire, some plain funny stories, and so on. The excellent footnotes make their return, with comments about The Prisoner, Astro Boy, Blaise Pascal, and many other wonderful things.

Now I have to wait for volume four to be translated and published.

The Wolves in the Walls

Very short read, but quite worth it. The artwork is astounding and the story, while simple, is very fun. The language is certainly on an order for children. I've read recommendations that say the content might be a bit scary for kids, but it doesn't seem so to me (though I'm not really a kid nor do I have any). Regardless, it should be a welcome addition to any adult library, if only for the artwork.

Bookstores I've been to can't seem to decide whether to put it in the childrens' section or with graphic novels.

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