Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Grant Morrison and Neal Stephenson Reviewed at SFFWorld

The two-new-reviews-per-week-at-SFFWorld theme continues with a review from Mark Yon and yours truly. We both reviewed books by giants in their chosen subgenre, so both books could be seen as eagerly anticipated.

Mark takes a look at one SF’s brand name writer’s latest novel, Neal Stephenson’s Reamde:

So: your starter for 10. Is it Reamde? Remade? Reamed? Read Me?

Just working out the title can be a complication in itself. But then that’s what you should expect with Neal Stephenson’s books. It’s a well known adage in the genre that if you read Neal Stephenson’s books, you’re there for a long journey.

For what is typical of Neal’s work is that when you buy into it, you’re there for the immersive experience. Often challenging (Anathem invented new language, for example), it’s not usually for the faint hearted.

But where this one scores is that, unlike some of his earlier work, it’s more accessible to the layman and I suspect will be another one of those genre books read by non-genre readers. In other words, I suspect that, in the UK at least, this is where Neal does ‘a China Mieville’ and achieves mega-status as Neal has already done in the US.

I’ve been reading comic books for the better part of a quarter century (holy shit!) and one of the writers who always has, at the very least, some interesting stories is Grant Morrison. A couple of months ago, he published Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human., which is one part historical overview, one part love letter to comics/superheroes, and one small part biography. Great stuff, here's the obligatory cover shot, link, and review excerpt:

Where he seems to have the most joy in expounding knowledge is The Silver Age – the second major era of comics from roughly 1956 through the 1970s which serves as the second part of the book. In this era, some of the most bizarre storylines and characters came to the page and it is an era in which much of Morrison’s writing seems to evoke or homage. This is the time when DC Comics relaunched many of their existing superheroes under new guises – the Barry Allen Flash and the Hal Jordan Green Lantern being the two most notable. The Silver Age, as Morrison points out with glee, is also the birth of the Multiverse.
While the book is indeed a must-have historical overview of the capes and tights characters and their stories, Supergods also serves as a partial personal memoir. Morrison doesn’t shy away from highlighting his own impressive work, and if it wasn’t so impressive and important to the genre, it could be considered shilling his own work. What keeps it from being simple shilling is the sheer honesty with which Morrison relates the historical perspective in which his comic-book work sits.

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