Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Largely Literary Link List: Books, Comics, Webcomics, and Some Other Stuff

1) I know I've mentioned Order of the Stick before. It's one of my favorite webcomics, a series that plays with D&D conventions and rules, and thus also with fantasy tropes in general. It features a team of adventurers out to foil their arch-nemesis and save the world being both foiled and helped by gaming and literary conventions along the way (The current arc features an evil father who is trying to promote his good son's heroism along so that their eventual clash will be more interesting). It's quite gripping, even if you don't know all of the D&D conventions (I don't). Anyway, if you're not already hooked, or if you've ever wanted to ride a dinosaur, take a look at #923, "Breakthrough". Then do settle down to read the backstory.

2) Hm. On the one hand, the last time I ate at McDonald's, I thought their hamburger tasted like cardboard. On the other, they're going to give out books in their Happy Meals through November, and that's pretty awesome. So, it's a win-win for MacDonald's-lovers, who can now take their kids and get something truly worthwhile with the meal, and the rest of us will stand by the wayside and clap enthusiastically.

3) Here's a map on Business Insider that shows the "Most Famous Book Set in Every State". Whether the states in question will always be happy with their literary representative is a good question.

Book News

How did these sneak up on me? Really, how?

Writing on the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years

From the publisher's description:
Papyrus rolls and Twitter have much in common, as each was their generation’s signature means of “instant” communication. Indeed, as Tom Standage reveals in his scintillating new book, social media is anything but a new phenomenon.

From the papyrus letters that Roman statesmen used to exchange news across the Empire to the advent of hand-printed tracts of the Reformation to the pamphlets that spread propaganda during the American and French revolutions, Standage chronicles the increasingly sophisticated ways people shared information with each other, spontaneously and organically, down the centuries. With the rise of newspapers in the nineteenth century, then radio and television, “mass media” consolidated control of information in the hands of a few moguls. However, the Internet has brought information sharing full circle, and the spreading of news along social networks has reemerged in powerful new ways.

A fresh, provocative exploration of social media over two millennia, Writing on the Wall reminds us how modern behavior echoes that of prior centuries—the Catholic Church, for example, faced similar dilemmas in deciding whether or how to respond to Martin Luther’s attacks in the early sixteenth century to those that large institutions confront today in responding to public criticism on the Internet. Invoking the likes of Thomas Paine and Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet, Standage explores themes that have long been debated: the tension between freedom of expression and censorship; whether social media trivializes, coarsens or enhances public discourse; and its role in spurring innovation, enabling self-promotion, and fomenting revolution. As engaging as it is visionary, Writing on the Wall draws on history to cast new light on today’s social media and encourages debate and discussion about how we’ll communicate in the future.

Other relevant info:
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: October 15th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA
ISBN 1620402831 (ISBN13: 9781620402832)

If it's like The Victorian Internet (which I enjoyed immensely), it will be historically grounded, full of interesting tidbits about real people, and thought provoking. I'm definitely going to read it.

Also coming out this month--and how did I miss it?! is the third book in Valente's Fairyland series, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two

From the publisher's description:

September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home, and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

Other relevant Info:
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN 1250023505 (ISBN13: 9781250023506)

The first two books in the series were funny, unexpected, quirky, and all-around good, so I'm going to snatch this one up as quickly as I can as well.

One of the fun and good discoveries I made this year were the Courtney Crumrin books by Ted Naifeh. Courtney is a prickly young girl just learning how to be a witch, how to make friends, and how to navigated doing the both at once. I've read books 1-3 (and a review is coming, I promise!), but book 4, Courtney Crumrin and the Monstrous Holiday, somehow snuck by me. A lovely new hardcover edition (and the hardcovers are beautiful) came out on the ninth.

From the publisher's description:
Courtney Crumrin's adventures continue – this time in a newly remastered, full color edition! Courtney and Uncle Aloysius' European vacation has brought them into the heart of a country rich with mystical history and tradition. At first, eastern Europe seems like the perfect place for Courtney to strengthen her abilities, but just as Courtney begins to tap into the mystery of the old country, she comes face to face with an overwhelming magic and even larger moral ambiguities.

Other relevant info:
Format: Trade (Collection), Hardcover
Content Rating: A (All Ages)
Street Date: Oct 9, 2013

Diamond™ Order Code: JUN131224
ISBN: 978-1-934964-92-7

I have enjoyed Courtney's adventures in the earlier books. She's sharp, observant, prickly, and still endearing.

Not so long ago, I was complaining that kids got all the good octopus and squid books. Now, not only do I have Octopus: The Ocean's Intelligent Invertebrate
by Roland C. Anderson, Jennifer A. Mather, and James B. Wood checked out of the library, I find there's another book coming out at the end of the month: Octopus!: The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea by Katherine Harmon Courage.

From the publisher's description:
We eat, study, copy, and idealize the octopus. Yet this strange creature still eludes our understanding. With eight arms, three hearts, camouflaging skin, and a disarmingly intelligent look behind its eyes, it appears utterly alien. But octopuses have been captivating humans for as long as we’ve been catching them. Cultures have created octopus-centric creation myths, art, and, of course, cuisine. For all of our ancient fascination and modern research, however, we still haven’t been able to get a firm grasp on these slippery beasts.

Now journalist Katherine Harmon Courage dives into the fascinating underwater world of these mysterious cephalopods. From her transatlantic adventures to Spain and Greece, expeditions in the Caribbean and back to Brooklyn, she invites readers to experience the scientific discoveries, deep cultural ties, and delicious meals connected to the octopus.

Other relevant info:
Hardcover, 272 pages
Expected publication: October 31st 2013 by Current Hardcover
ISBN 1591845270 (ISBN13: 9781591845270)

As I've been busily developing an octo-obsession lately (as anyone reading my link lists lately is likely to have guessed), I am delighted. Also, Courage writes The Octopus Chronicles blog over at Scientific American, and, having finally figured out it is a regular blog, I've taken to reading (and often linking to) it, so I'm expecting good things.

Comic Books
Three newly announced sets of comic books made me happy:

1) Marvel's Loki: Agent of Asgard was announced at the New York Comi-Con (Does the con season ever end?), and looks like it'll be starting sometime next year. It features Loki in "in an officially sanctioned new role as Asgard’s subversive defender." The All-Mother calls on him to run errands as All Ewing says in an interview on Marvel.com "There are things he wants from the All-Mother, and things the All-Mother wants from him, and they have a mutual arrangement. Essentially, as Kid Loki hinted, Loki’s fresh start is by no means a done deal; it’d be very easy for him to slip back into his old self, the super villain trapped in endlessly recurring defeats, which would be worse than death for him. The All-Mother has a way to help Loki avoid that terrible fate, but there’s some quid pro quo involved," so it sounds like he'll get to be a slippery sort of hero.

I'm not at all familiar with Marvel's Loki outside of The Avengers and Thor (where I loved him--who didn't?), but I do like the mythical Loki, and it sounds like they've got a good take on him.

Read more in this interview on Marvel.com with writer Al Ewing and artist Lee Garbett

2) Starting somewhat sooner--as in, this week, is Boom! Studios Imagine Agents, a four-issue mini-series by writer Brian Joines and artist Bachan about a pair of agents "whose job it is to keep the products of kids' imaginations in line." Their current challenge? A little boy and his teddy bear. Sounds like it has the potential to be spooky, silly, and strange all at once.

Read more on USA Today

3) Dark Horse is putting out a series of Firefly comic books that take place after Serenity! Serenity: Firefly Class 03-K64—Leaves on the Wind #1 (of 6) will come out January 29, 2014. Zack Whedon is writing and Georges Jeanty is the artist. So, while we won't get to see the show on TV, we will at least get to see the story continue, and I'm glad. One of the saddest things about the cancellation is that we never got to see the full scope of the story, never got to found out "What happens next?" Now we do.

Sadly, it does take place after Serenity so Shepherd Book and Wash will both still be dead, no retconning here.

Two links up there in that little blurb? Both are from Io9; the first will take you to a longer (older) announcement with some sample pages (one I missed the first time around); the second takes you to a newer announcement and includes a cover image.

4) I reviewed Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists for SpeakGeekytoMe. I'm not going to repeat the review here (not linked due to site difficulties), but I will say that it was a fantastically fun read and a book I'm delighted to have stumbled across. I definitely plan to read the earlier Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists.

From the publisher's description:
From favorites like "Puss in Boots" and "Goldilocks" to obscure gems like "The Boy Who Drew Cats," Fairy Tale Comics has something to offer every reader. Seventeen fairy tales are wonderfully adapted and illustrated in comics format by seventeen different cartoonists, including Raina Telgemeier, Brett Helquist, Cherise Harper, and more.

Other relevant info:
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by First Second
ISBN 1596438231 (ISBN13: 9781596438231)

You almost certainly do want to take note of the ISBN. The downside of the title is that searches for "Fairy tale comics" invariably turn up other stuff. This includes links to Fables, which is also good (though much, much darker, and limited to the adult audience), so you might be interested in the results, but they won't help in locating this specific fairy tale book.

And I think that's all for this week! Did I miss anything awesome? If so, contact me or let me know in the comments.

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