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.


The development of technology in The Alleluia Files doesn’t feel to me to be completely believable, but Shinn mostly paints it in broad brushes, leaving plenty of room for readers to supply their own details.

Mostly, I continued reading to see how the story developed; to see what would happen.  I did enjoy following the characters, hoping they would be okay and wondering how the world would take the truth of Jehova, but I was more enraptured by the sheer tension of not knowing how the story of Archangel would turn.  I suppose I’m committing the error of not letting a book stand on its own merits, instead comparing it to preceeding works, but for me, Archangel very much overshadows The Alleluia Files.  Well, it’s still a good read.

One thing did bother me, though.  An earlier book claimed that Samaria was uninhabitable by humans in its normal state, and only unceasing care by Jehova kept it livable, with the Gloria serving as a renewal of its instructions.  In that explanation, the thunderbolts that would fall to destroy mountains and cities were natural features of the planet that had to be counteracted by human (well, angel) intervention.  For this book, that somehow turned into Jehova using the Gloria as a metric for the harmony of people, counting their presence on the Plain of Sharon by their Kisses, and firing its weapons on the people if they didn’t behave properly.  There are problems with each explanation, of course, but it’s very disconcerting to have such inconsistencies between books.

Weather Porn

NOAA seems to be adding some nice features for Internet-based weather information.  I like all the info available from the Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office, especially the text forecast and hourly short-term forecast grid (also text-based).

The Wolves in the Walls

The Wolves in the Walls is a 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.

Excel Saga, volume 02

Excel Saga 02 has more fun with Excel and company.  The manga is certainly distinct from the anime, with common threads, but it’s still quite funny.  I don’t know what else to say about it, though.  Parts had me literally laughing out loud, always a good sign.  The footnotes are again excellent; you can tell that the translators are pretty amusing people, too.

Excel Saga, volume 01

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.

Excel Saga 01 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.


The biggest difference I noticed was the name of the dog.  In the anime, her name is Menchi.  In the manga, she’s named Mince.  I don’t know if there’s really a difference in name between the two or if the fansubbers merely translated phonetically.  If the latter, then the commercial DVD follows their footsteps and uses the same name.  (Probably because people were used to the name from the fansub.)

There’s less themed stuff, like the anime’s war movie episode or star wars episode.

Several anime characters aren’t present in the manga or, at least, haven’t shown up yet: Pedro, the Great Will of the Universe, the puchuus, Nabeshin, and the Space Butler.

I was thrown a bit by the decision to give Sumioshi a scottish accent.  The footnotes say he has a rural accent in the manga, but I personally would probably have found a rural American accent easier to deal with.

Overall, the feel of the manga is much the same as the anime, and it’s downright funny in a lot of places.  For those who are familiar with the anime, the manga is a good continuation.  For those unfamiliar with Excel at all, it’s a very fun, funny read.