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review 2018-11-11 13:19
Before Alien 3, There Was The Comics...
Aliens - The Essential Comics Vol.1 - Mark Verheiden

When James Cameron's Aliens was released in 1986, it was a sequel nobody knew that its better than the first. It was different, it was action-oriented and science-fiction has become a whole other level of entertainment. Fans wanted more and before 20th Century Fox release Alien 3 in 1992, there was the comics. At the height of it all, the 1980s and the 1990s comics has found a new kind of voice and with this new voice, they found a different kind of audience. So when Dark Horse Comics acquire the rights to release the sequel to Aliens in comic format, fans were thrilled and the released of Aliens issue 1 of 6 in July 1st, 1988, it became an instant bestseller! The rest, is history.

 

I have been waiting for a collection that I wanted to get my hands on as I am an Aliens fan (shamefully, not the biggest) and I love most of what Aliens are. The comic books, on the other hand, another matter. After I missed out my chance to collect the omnibus editions (which I had heard the binding was bad), the re-released of Aliens for this edition was something I look forward to. Aliens: The Essential Comics Vol.1 collects the first three books (OutbreakNightmare Asylum & Earth War) that became the trilogy of the sequel that follows up from Aliens. Sadly, I was disappointed by its execution. The story is mediocre. It wasn't any thing mind-blowing nor explore much of the universe that started from Ripley Scotts vision based on a story by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. It was... boring. The first, which was Outbreak, had more words that can drive any comic book readers to become in a confuse state manner. There are too many things going around - a cult form over the alien sentient, a military corporation wanting the xenomorphs as a weapon, Newt (all grown up) felt abandoned and betrayed and lost and declared insane, Hicks, fueled with hatred against the aliens that killed his friends and a whole other supporting characters, which later made a mess of the whole arch. Then, the philosophy involvement of what truly happen that relates to the first movie, became a downfall to the first book.

 

The sequel, which was called then Book II (Nightmare Asylum) is no different. The approach is a little less whining but the content is no different with the exception of the return of Ripley. Remember, this was still before Alien 3. Then came the final arch story with Earth War, and every thing else, falls apart. It wasn't a good closure but it was a closure that marks Mark Verheiden ending his trilogy. Art wise, only Denis Beauvais is worth mentioning here. I didn't like Mark A. Nelson and Sam Keith art work at all.

 

The Essential Comics Volume 1 edition collects the first three books. The binding of the book is firm but its also easily creates a line at the bind. Paper quality wise is smooth. Its a book that's has its quality to savor for. Overall, I do like the cover and the universe of Aliens, even though the writing is terrible. This is truly a comic book trade paperback dedicated to fans who want more of Aliens.

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review 2018-11-03 15:24
My Neighbor Totoro (book) art and story by Hayao Miyazaki, text by Tsugiko Kubo, translated by Jim Hubbert
My Neighbor Totoro: A Novel - Tsugiko Kubo,Hayao Miyazaki

Mei, Satsuki, and their father, Tatsuo, move into a crumbling old house in the country in order to be closer to the sanatorium where their mother, Yasuko, is recovering from tuberculosis. The girls adapt to their new rural life pretty quickly, although four-year-old Mei doesn't respond well to being left with their neighbor while Tatsuo is at work and Satsuki is at school.

Both girls realize there's something a little strange about their house when they first arrive. They briefly spot little beings called soot sprites, and Kanta, the boy who lives near them, tells them that their house is haunted. Then Mei starts talking about having met a being she calls Totoro and who Tatsuo believes is a forest spirit. Satsuki longs to see Totoro too.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I read this. Would it be a stiff and soulless adaptation of the movie, or would it be able to hold its own in the face of the movie's sweetness? I'm happy to say that it fell into the latter category. Although I still prefer the movie, the book was a breeze to read, added things to the overall story that the movie couldn't, and had much of the same charm as the original movie.

(I should briefly explain that I'm most familiar with the English dub of the movie. I'm not sure if I've even watched it in Japanese with English subtitles yet. Some of the information "missing" from the movie could possibly have been translation decisions when creating the dub, editing the script to better match mouth flaps. I won't know until I watch the movie with subtitles, and even then translator decisions are in play.)

The book was more direct about explaining exactly why Tatsuo, Satsuki, and Mei moved out into the country, explicitly naming Yasuko's illness. There were more mentions about what Satsuki and Mei's life used to be like, back in the city, and even one portion of the book where they briefly went back to the city. Yasuko was slightly more in the foreground - the book included letters she wrote to her children while at the sanatorium. I got a stronger picture of her personality here than I did in the movie. She seemed like a dreamer.

In general, I'd say that the bones of this book were about the same as the movie. A few scenes were added, and there were more details about the history of the house the family moved into, and Satsuki's efforts to learn how to cook different foods over an actual fire without burning them. I really enjoyed these additions.

One thing that disappointed me a little, however, was that the fantasy aspects were scaled back. In the movie, viewers' first exposure to Totoro happened when Mei chased after a little Totoro and ended up finding Totoro's napping spot. All of this happened on-screen. These same things happened in this book as well, but for some reason the author chose to focus on Satsuki instead of Mei. Mei told Satsuki and her father what she'd experienced, but there was no evidence that any of it was real, rather than the dreams or imaginings of a child. The first on-page appearance of Totoro didn't happen until the bus scene. The ending was also altered slightly - the scene where Mei and Satsuki watched their mother and father from a tree didn't happen. I was at least glad that all the Catbus scenes were included.

The focus of this book seemed to be slightly more on the relationship between the two sisters and their barely-spoken-of fear that their mother might die and never come home, as well as the girls' growing independence as they adapted to rural life. It was lovely, but, as I said, I did miss some of the Totoro stuff. All in all, this was an excellent novelization that I'd definitely recommend to fans of the movie.

Extras:

Several illustrations (black and white sketches with maybe a watercolor wash?), including a color map of Matsugo, the place where the Kusakabe family moved. The map also gives the exact year this story took place, 1955, so I suppose this could be considered historical fiction.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-10-28 01:45
Competition for survival
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

This one went into and explored many of the points that I thought Chocky would, which is doubly great because creepy kids are disturbing as hell, and because I can give Wyndham props for not repeating himself in hindsight.

 

There are differences with the pop-culture classic movie, as it always happens. Beyond the distillation over our narrator and Zellaby (which I imagine stems from a wish to transfer all the BAMF quality from the seemingly absent minded old man to a younger MC), the big fact is that the mind reading is not part of the original book. There is enough flash and imminent danger with the will thing. The hive mind is the cherry that makes the eerie otherness cake.

 

I loved how things proceed slowly, and this insistence of going about business as usual. When the mothers bring the babies back to town, you immediately go "Oh, fuck", and in their heart of hearts, you know every character kinda does too, but they bury themselves in self denial. And as the book comes closer to the end, you start thinking back to Zellaby's wondering if civilization had not been a bad survival idea.

 

Seriously, for all the old man seemed to everyone as digressing from the current point, he was very much clear-sighted.

 

I loved the sci-fi call backs (and the niggling for none going into the morally ambiguous). Some of the doubts it tries to posit (specially on evolution) are a matter of "science marches on" but I always end up finding the idea of outside influence entertaining. The social commentary (outside the references to sci-fi, that is after all a commentary on society too) was a mixed bag, some insightful, some blithely chauvinistic, and there is what is clearly a lesbian couple never addressed as such, so maaaybe fair for its time.

 

At any rate, I had fun reading it. And that's a good way to wrap up my bingo card and get my reading black-out. Just to wait for the calls now.

 

 

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text 2018-10-28 00:33
Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 220 pages.
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

‘Oh, yes… where was I?’
‘With H. G.’s Martians,’ I told him.
‘Of course. Well, there you have the prototype of innumerable invasions. A super-weapon which man fights valiantly with his own puny armoury until he is saved by one of several possible kinds of bell. Naturally, in America it is all rather bigger and better. Something descends, and something comes out of it. Within ten minutes, owing no doubt to the excellent communications in that country, there is a coast-to-coast panic, and all highways out of all cities are crammed, in all lanes, by the fleeing populace – except in Washington. There, by contrast, enormous crowds stretching as far as the eye can reach, stand grave and silent, white-faced but trusting, with their eyes upon the White House, while somewhere in the Catskills a hitherto ignored professor and his daughter, with their rugged young assistant strive like demented midwives to assist the birth of the dea ex laboritoria which will save the world at the last moment, minus one.

That's a "take that!" that has not lost it's being current.

 

 

Wrapping up my last read towards Bingo-blackout tonight.

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text 2018-10-26 13:20
Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 220 pages.
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

He lowered his pole from the vertical, and with the cage still dangling at its end, thrust it forward tentatively. The bird fell off its perch, and lay on the sanded floor of the cage. The corporal withdrew the cage. The bird gave a slightly indignant tweet, and hopped back on its perch.

 

I have a terrible sense of humour.

 

One not-so-young woman suddenly bought a bicycle, and pedalled it madly for astonishing distances, with fierce determination.

 

Appalling, really, lol!

 

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