Saturday, January 30, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/30/2010

Caricature of Ben Hecht by fellow Chicago Daily News reporter Gene Markey, 1923

Daily Thoughts 1/30/2010

Calamity Jack By Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathaniel Hale.

Calamity Jack is a sequel to the graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge. In this story, Rapunzel returns to Jack's hometown from out west. Jack is a fairtyale trickster character, a combination of Jack from Jack in the Beanstalk and the classic western tall tale character, Calamity Jane.

The story is full of constant action. There is lots of fighting, trickery, and sneakiness in this story. There are giant ants, giants, giant pigeons, and many other critters. The setting is a kind of fairytale dreamland in the Victorian era. There is the giants castle, but it really is not quite a floating castle, but a sumptiously outfitted airship.

I liked the variety of creatures in the tale. There is the guard jabberwocky, and the guard bandersnatch. Also there are pixies, brownies, pig people, dwarves, the goose that laid the golden egg, and other creatures in an ornate victorian setting.

The story is drawn in full color with lots of ornate detail. It is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk where the giants are extorting protection money and goods from Jack's mother and the local city. There is a wonderfully done picture of the beanstalk with Jack chopping it down.

I think the story can be read by pretty much anybody. We have copies of Rapunzel's Revenge in both the childrens and the young adult section. I read it three times. It is quite captivating. Shannon Hale won the Newberry Honor award for her book Princess Academy.

Star Trek Mirror Universe, The Sorrows of Empire by David Mack

This is a novel of the Mirror Universe where there is no federation, but instead a dark empire run by humanity. Spock is Faustian, touched by a brief encounter with Captain Kirk from the other universe and seeing hope for a federation in his own universe, he sets out to change things.

This is Spock as a calculating villain. He murders the crew of the enterprise, assumes command of the enterprise, and systematically rises through the ranks to seize the empire. It is a very much the ends justifies the means type story. Brutal, cold, calculating, and intriguing.

Spock must not only face the Romulans and the Klingons, but also the empress of earth and the machinations of an evil empire. I like Spock as a villain. This book has a machiavellian quality to it. The way he attempts to reach good ends, a free society, are utterly wicked.

A different take on Star Trek. Quite refreshing.

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