All Gods Are Bastards

Here are some thoughts on a few books I’ve read recently. I’ve been patronizing the library quite a bit as of late, and their eBook system is pretty convenient. The thing I’m not keen on when it comes to their Web-based reader is that it tends to display every book in the same style. And some of them require totally different readers. Oh, well.

Island of the Sequined Love Nun, by Christopher Moore – Overall, I’d say this is one of Moore’s lesser efforts, although it had its moments. Part of it is probably that the protagonist Tucker Case, a pilot who’s driven pretty much entirely by a desire for sex and booze, isn’t all that likeable. He’s fired from his job with a cosmetics company for flying drunk with a prostitute, but quickly lands a new job with a doctor and nurse who are exploiting a cargo cult on a Pacific island in order to harvest organs. What they don’t seem to realize is that the pilot who started the cult is actually appearing and manipulating events. He’s an interesting enough character, as are Tucker’s cross-dressing navigator friend and his pet fruit bat. Not a bad read, but Moore has done much better. Tucker and the bat would later reappear in The Stupidest Angel.

Thor: God of Thunder, Volume 1: The God Butcher, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic – The library branch that I usually go to is tiny, but occasionally I’ll come across something interesting that I didn’t order through the hold system. One of the comics they had was this one, and it looks like the library system also has Volumes 3 and 4, but not 2. What’s the deal, Brooklyn? Anyway, this is part of the Marvel NOW! initiative, although I’m not entirely sure how that differs from any other Marvel storylines. It skips back and forth between past, present, and future, showing Thor’s ongoing battle with someone called Gorr who murders gods. There’s a good mix of actual gods from Norse and Slavic mythology (Perun, a god with a lot of similarities to Thor, is one of the ones who is killed) with made-up ones from alien worlds. It’s an engaging story, and there are some cool designs, including the nexus of Omnipotence City.

I’d like to read the next volume if I can find it.

The Blazing World, by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle – Published in 1666, I believe this is one of the first parallel world stories, detailing the adventures of a woman who is kidnapped and taken to the North Pole, then transported to an alternate world with incredibly bright stars and inhabitants who are part animal and part human.

Comic source: Lit Brick
It’s also famous for being written by a woman, and Cavendish writes herself into the narrative as the protagonist’s transcriber. As promising as the premise is, it’s a rather disjointed and rambling yarn, with a lot of it simply the characters musing on natural philosophy. Towards the end, there is a bit more along the lines of science fiction, with the heroine returning to her own world backed up by a force of animal-men with submarines and bombs. It’s not long, but I felt it kind of dragged. Still interesting in its way, however.

Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest, by A. Lee Martinez – I believe this is the third thing I’ve read by Martinez, and his stuff does seem to be up my alley. This one is a comedic take on the quest from fantasy or mythology, set in a world that’s modern but with hidden spots where dragons and magic still reign supreme. A teenage minotaur named Helen Nicolaides teams up with Troy Kawakami, her good-looking and charming co-worker at a burger joint, to fulfill a quest given to them by the Lost God. With some dubious assistance from a questing agency and a biker gang of orcs right behind them, they encounter a cyclops and dragons before the final confrontation with the Lost God himself. It’s a quick and funny read, but still gets you to care about the characters, and most of the villains are written in an ambivalent fashion.

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