Book Reviews, Novels

Stephen King’s the Dark Tower (1982-2012) — a reflection

a series of seven, sometimes eight, novels

[ ranking | review ]

Tackling the Dark Tower over this last year has been both a pleasant surprise and a disappointment. It’s awakened a love for Stephen King’s writing I never felt before, but it’s also been a constant reminder of all the issues I’ve taken with his work since first picking up Carrie (1974) at 13 years old.

Continue reading “Stephen King’s the Dark Tower (1982-2012) — a reflection”

Book Reviews, Novels

Stephen King’s the Dark Tower (1982-2012) — a ranking

a series of seven, sometimes eight, novels

[ ranking | review ]

The Dark Tower, as a series, was defined by its ups and downs. An addictive yarn though it was, it was easy to find myself both adoring each page to seething in rage at cheesy turns. Perhaps this prevents the series from reaching a place alongside the Lord of the Rings or the Book of the New Sun as a definitive fantasy, but it doesn’t mean the series isn’t a classic. (The Chronicles of Narnia is heavily impaired by its frequent downs — and gross religious dogma, racism, and misogyny — as well, and still remains required reading.)

Continue reading “Stephen King’s the Dark Tower (1982-2012) — a ranking”

Book Reviews, Graphic Novels

The problem with Preacher (1995 – 2000)

a maxiseries of 75 issues
art by Steve Dillon

The more I read of this series, the more I found hard to enjoy. Ennis’ writing style carries a lot of frustration with it, and a lot of it is born of the series’ time. It ain’t as timeless as the classics of similar length (e.g., the Sandman), and part of why is Ennis spent too much of the ’90s channeling the voice of a million other snarky 20-somethings channeling the voice of Bill Hicks. The series repeatedly pays homage to Bill Hicks, and literally ends with a quote meant to convey the topics the series never had time to explore.

Continue reading “The problem with Preacher (1995 – 2000)”

Book Reviews, Graphic Novels

Neil Gaiman’s the Sandman: Overture (2013 – 2015)

a limited series of six issues

It took nearly 20 years for Morpheus to return with a proper follow-up to his final farewell. Overture‘s is a six-issue tale bridging the gap between issue one’s ambitious, faulty start and the present-day doings of Daniel. Just as well, Overture thematically follows in familiar footsteps to long-time readers, delivering a strong sense of closure for the mythos while answering many lingering questions (like, why exactly does Morpheus don that dorky helmet as battle-gear?).

The Dream Hunters (1999) provided a stunningly-beautiful fairy tale that just happened to feature Morpheus, and Endless Nights (2003) gave us a collection of mostly-cute short stories complementing the Endless’ original run rather than building upon it. Overture is more successful in connecting the loose threads that have hung over the series ever since we first spent those 72 years locked in an occultist’s basement. It’s both fitting as a conclusion, and a posthumous introduction for Morpheus’ maxiseries.

Continue reading “Neil Gaiman’s the Sandman: Overture (2013 – 2015)”

Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Short Stories

Neil Gaiman’s the Sandman: Endless Nights (2003)

Like Gaiman’s other short story collections, Endless Nights has its share of ups and downs. Each of its seven stories are quick snapshots into the Endless’ everyday, and each one sticks around just long enough to give some insight into individual personalities. Some are connected, most aren’t. Some aren’t even stories, but descriptions, ideas, atmospheres. It’s a nice idea, but certain members of the Endless aren’t exactly known for their character, and some of these stories subsequently don’t do much to change that.

Continue reading “Neil Gaiman’s the Sandman: Endless Nights (2003)”

Book Reviews, Novels

William Eastlake’s the Checkerboard Trilogy, or, Lyric of the Circle Heart (1956 – 1963)


Go in Beauty (1956)

Eastlake_GIB_cov.pngWrite what you know. Golden advice, and Eastlake devotes his first novel to these words, writing deeply of the white-red divide that’d banished the Navajo culture to the ‘Checkerboard’ region, as well as the role of the writer, of art, the relationship shared with the outside world, and, surprisingly, the land itself, devoid of culture except as a current morphological and ecological influence. Unfortunately with Go in Beauty, Eastlake gave too much focus to world of the artist, which doesn’t always mix well in the scheme of things. It helps stress the cultural dead-end meetings, but something indeterminable about this hurts the novel’s impact, especially comparatively with the thematically-similar trilogy closer.

Continue reading “William Eastlake’s the Checkerboard Trilogy, or, Lyric of the Circle Heart (1956 – 1963)”

Book Reviews, Novels, YA

The forgotten sci-fi sibling of Goosebumps — Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear (1997 – 1998)

a series of 12 novellas

During the peak of the ’90s Goosebumps craze, LucasFilm contracted John Whitman, then an editor for HighBridge Audio, to tap into this rich market with a six-part series of Star Wars-themed horror novellas. Whitman’s work on adapting countless classic Star Wars stories into audio dramas, complete with John Williams’ scores, sound effects, and multiple actors, was counted as a boon for the YA market, where the audio-drama format would have contributed to framing quick, punchy stories full of action and suspense.

The result was Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear, a quirky combination of classic Star Wars tropes ‘n’ cameos, original characters that can best be described as Saturday Morning Cartoons,* and untethered gore. Six books turned into 12, and the series lasted with modest (but decreasing) success through 1998 when John Whitman and LucasFilm both decided to move on.

Continue reading “The forgotten sci-fi sibling of Goosebumps — Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear (1997 – 1998)”