Book Review: Ragnarok, Vol. #1 by Walter Simonson, a graphic novel

As a once avid comic book collector, I was eager to start reviewing the graphic novels offered at NetGalley.

This story begins unknown years after the fall of the Aesir and Vanir. The gods have fallen and all is despair and death. The Sun and Moon are gone. Creatures, men, demons and the dead co-exist not so peacefully.
The book is well drawn and colored. The shading and greys in the twilight forests of the Fetch counterpointed with the vibrancy of the flames of Surtr are a great visual representation of the different realms. The variety of tints used within the palette the artist limited himself to in each scene was astounding.
The fighting is done without any explicit gore, which I appreciate. I am not a fan of splatterfests. The action flows as a natural part of the story. The identity of the Stone God is fairly obvious, but clues still unfold and the reader is led to the conclusion.
All of the characters, from the introduction of Brynja, Regn and their daughter, Drifa to Ratatosk the squirrel, to the troll guarding the human village are believable and engaging, even or especially the villains.
The story was well-paced. There were no huge dumps of expository information. The dialogue is crisp, on point and succinct, hinting at things yet unrevealed. There were no real drags in the flow. I was not shaken out of the story at any point. The end of the book came at a satisfying point but definitely left me wanting to read more.

I was provided a free copy of this book through NetGalley.com in exchange for this review.

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The Day The Hugos Died a song by Matthew B. Souders

The Day The Hugos Died (to the tune of American Pie by Don McLean)

A long, long time ago;
I can still remember how those stories used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance,
That I could make the fandom dance,
And maybe, take a rocket in a while…

But every year they made me shiver,
Out on the porch like I’m chopped liver,
Fans outside the doorstep,
Who couldn’t take one more step.

I thought that one day if I tried,
I could help them show true genre pride.
But social justice warriors lied,
The day…the Hugos died.

CHORUS

So bye bye, sci-fi’s highest prize,
Told my stories in their glory, but was cut down to size.
And them good ol’ boys, are in for quite a surprise,
Warning, this’ll be the day their cult fries.
This’ll be the day their cult fries.

VERSE 1

Did you write a hero’s tale,
With an epic series of travails?
RightFans have no use for you.
Do you believe in God above?
Do you think sci-fi should showcase love?
Well, they’ll claim you’re privileged too!

Well, I know that’s where we used to be,
But those guys all blocked diversity!
We must move on, they say…
Yes, diversity rules the day.

I was a lonely teenage science geek,
With no social skills, and no will to speak,
But now, I am a power freak,
The day…the Hugos died.

CHORUS

Now, for three years we’ve fought on our own,
In hope that someday they’d atone,
For all the harm to us they’ve caused.
When the kangaroo courts had convened,
And the heretics had left the scene,
To a chorus of mendacious, rude guffaws.

But, when forced to choose ‘tween us or none,
They hurled themselves down, dead and done.
The ceremony adjourned,
No award was returned.

And while truefen read a book on Marx,
The rest of us ignored the sharks.
Now we’re all whistling in the dark,
The day, the Hugos died.

CHORUS

Helter skelter in a summer swelter –
The ships flew off t’ward a mental shelter.
A sea of lily-white faces,
Not a mix of all the races.
Oh, the team all tried to spin a tale,
Media behind them, they’d prevail.

Now the chieftains lead their tribal loons,
While their sergeants played a marching tune.
Conform or be excused,
Forget your freedom to choose!

But the wrong folks tried to take the field,
The marching clan refused to yield.
Do you recall the truths revealed?
The day…the Hugos died.

CHORUS

There we were all in one place,
A generation who’d forgotten space,
No hopeful wonder in the stars.
So come on, Brad be fruitful, Larry, too.
You know, there’s only one thing to do.
Write the stories that set the bar!

Because as we watched them on that stage,
Our fists were clenched in white-hot rage.
No chance to save these people,
We’d lost them all to evil.

We’ll take our passion for the craft,
And human wave plots we will draft,
We won’t be cowed by men this daft,
The day…the Hugos died.

CHORUS

OUTRO

A few of us will sing the blues,
But cheer up, friends, there’s happy news.
Those rockets never mattered anyway.
We all fought in an epic war,
The faithful fans never knew before,
That the gates of WorldCon simply wouldn’t sway.

Now they know who their leaders are,
No tolerance, that’s quite bizarre.
A lot of words were spoken,
Their special trust was broken.

And the heroes we admire most,
Will never be forgotten ghosts.
So raise your glass and give a toast.
The day…the Hugos died.

We’re all singing…bye bye sci-fi’s highest prize.
Told our stories in their glory, now they’re cut down to size.
Yes, them good ol’ boys are in for quite a surprise.
Singing this’ll be the day their cult fries.
This’ll be the day that we rise!

Bye bye bullies in your disguise.
We tell stories in their glory, you just sit back and cry!
You good ol’ boys are in for quite a surprise.
Singing this’ll be the day that we rise!

The 2015 Hugo Winners?

The 2015 Hugo Awards have been announced. Sad Puppies 3 is over. I’m sure the Puppy Kickers are going to proclaim a victory, but it is a Pyrrhic one at best. They do not know what they have done. Already El DeGuello and The March of Cambreth are being practiced as battle hymns. Sad Puppies IV: The Embitchening has begun.

Here is a list of the Hugo “Winners”

Best Novel: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (a worthy win, and my number one choice).
Best Novella: NO AWARD
Best Novelette: “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated by Lia Belt
Best Short Story: NO AWARD
Best Related Work: NO AWARD
Best Graphic Story: Ms. Marvel #1 (The obvious PC/SJW choice. A teenage, Muslim girl becomes a new kind of super-hero. Checks all the right boxes, except she appears to be straight, at least in the first collection of books.)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: (Why can’t they just say movie?) Guardians of the Galaxy (one of my top three, I’m happy.)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: (TV show, sheesh) Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Been Tried” (I’m not a fan of the show, but any actress who can play 9 clones with different personalities believably deserves some recognition of some kind. I voted for Doctor Who:
“Listen”)
Best Editor, Short Form: NO AWARD (“Vooxx Daaayyy!!!”, the Puppy Kickers cry.)
Best Editor, Long Form: NO AWARD (Toni Weisskopf was robbed, but more on that below.)
Best Professional Artist: Julie Dillion
Best Semiprozine: (What does that even mean, really? Is it like semi-pro football?) Lightspeed Magazine
Best Fanzine: Journey Planet
Best Fancast: Galactic Suburbia Podcast
Best Fan Writer: Laura J. Mixon (Not my top vote, but her piece was good in unmasking a vile hatemonger/provocateur who uses/used multiple online personalities.)
Best Fan Artist: Elizabeth Legget
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo): Wesley Chu (I was unimpressed with his work, but his acceptance speech where he “announced” his candidacy as a Republican nominee for President was chuckle-worthy.)

OK, now more about Toni’s loss as Best Editor. I copied these numbers from Brad Torgerson.

Toni Weisskopf got 1216 first-line #1 votes. Arguably the most of any editor in the history of the Hugo awards.
Sheila Gilbert got 754 first-line #1 votes. Again, second only to Toni, arguably the most of any editor in the history of the Hugo awards.
By contrast, Patrick-Nielsen Hayden won a Best Editor Hugo in 2010, with just 140 first-line #1 votes.
2011 saw Lou Anders take a trophy with 207 first-line #1 votes.
2012 got Betsy Wolheim a trophy, with 333 first-line #1 votes.
2013 gave yet another trophy to Patrick Nielsen-Hayden with 209 first-line #1 votes.
2014 was Ginjer Buchanan getting a “going away present” retirement trophy with 359 first-line #1 votes.
Now, because of the way the Australian ballot works, the person with the most first-line #1 votes is not always the winner. But that’s usually the way to bet. Whoever gets the most first-line #1 votes is almost always the winner.
Except for this year.

Here’s how the balloting for the Awards breaks down. It is so obvious that so many are drinking the Kool-Aid and voting the CHORF party line. The SJWs apparently had a bloc of about 3,000 voters. According to reliable sources, 3,000 new members were added the last week of July. Coincidence?
And in what possible brain above that of an amoeba does a horrible, craptastic piece-of-dreck-such-that-I-have-never-before-forced-my-way-through like Ancillary Sword score third above No Award in fourth to put Jim Butcher’s genius Skin Game in fifth?

So, with all of that percolating through my brain after 10 hours of World of Warcraft played while listening to Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia on audiobook, I woke up with some interesting ideas for new pieces of equipment in WoW.

  • The Melanin Amulet of the Warrior
  • +120% to Dodge when writing from a victim position

  • Karmalininator
  • Any evil said or done to or about a Puppy does not adversely affect your Karma and in fact may incrue some benefit

  • The Morphing Neckchain of the Speaker to Power
  • enables the wearer to transform into an angry, young, leftist lesbian

  • The Spiked Collar of the Adolescent Canine
  • +50 to Taunt, +40 to Fear, Instant Resurrection, no cooldown

    Book Review: The Alehouse Murders by Maureen Ash

    The Alehouse Murders (Templar Knight Mystery, #1)The Alehouse Murders by Maureen Ash
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Set in the Summer of 1200 A.D. Lincoln, England, this mystery is the first in a series of which I shall definitely be reading more.
    It is well-researched. The historical details are amazing. The main character, Bascot de Marins, is a Templar Knight who is on leave from the Order after returning to England from being kept prisoner by the Saracens. He is burnt out and disillusioned, wounded in body and spirit. Being literate in an age when few are, he gives steward’s service to the chatelaine of the castle where he is recovering, Lady Nicolaa de Hayes (an actual historical figure, as is her husband, Sheriff Gerard Camville).
    When four people are discovered brutally murdered in one of the town’s alehouses, two of them strangers, one a Jewish moneylender, the last the aleman himself, Lady Nicolaa, to placate her husband, offers to handle the investigation under her own aegis rather than suffer him the cost. She turns to de Marins for the investigation. Onion-like, the mystery unfolds. Clues are discovered. Witnesses are questioned and details come to light. More murders ensue. The reader is tantalized. The wealth of historical detail is astounding, yet unobtrusive. I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out the identity of the killer. There were so many with a motive and the opportunity, each as plausible as the next. The end is a bit of a twist.
    All of the characters are well-fleshed out and engaging. The language is at once true to the era and understandable in context for the modern reader. I was recommended this book because of my interest in the Brother Cadfael Mysteries. I am glad I took the bait. I will be purchasing the rest of this series as budget permits.

    View all my reviews

    NetGalley Challenge 2015

    Challenge Participant

    I’ve decided, since I’ve been accepted to read and review books from the NetGalley site, to join the NetGalley 2015 Challenge.

    I’ve already posted one review and will post others as they become available. I selected a couple of graphic novels to do, but can’t figure out how to get them to my Kindle to read. When I right click on them, the “Send to Kindle” option doesn’t appear.

    The folks are on their Alaskan cruise, a belated 50th wedding anniversary trip with my Father’s brother and his wife.

    I now have a smartphone! Mom and Dad had gotten iPhone 5s about 2 and a half years ago, but the ones they got turned out to be from a bad batch and had mechanical/battery issues. Mom got a free replacement this spring. When I asked if they would allow me to buy a smartphone of my own from Wal-mart or somewhere like that to add to the plan instead of the old (about 7-8 years, it was Mom’s before it was mine) flip phone I had. When they arrived on Thursday for our day together, Mom informed me that she and dad had decided to upgrade to iPhone 6s and give me her old (read “brand new replacement”) iPhone 5. Thrilled!

    We also went to the jeweler’s to have Grandma’s ring re-sized and repaired for me to wear, as well as a ring I’ve had for about 32 years re-sized. I used to be able to wear it on my ring finger with very little problem, but the past few years I’ve had to wear it on my middle finger.

    We went to a local place for lunch called Fong’s. They serve Chinese food pizzas with a choice of white or whole wheat crusts. I was looking at the Thai Chicken, but Mom wanted the Fongolian Beef, so that was what we got. It was *fantastic*. Seasoned beef, roasted red and green peppers, spring onions. We ordered a large, so each of us had two pieces and I had two pieces left to take home for supper. It microwaved well.

    I scored on the cool scale with Niece #1 the previous Sunday when we all went out as a family. I showed her a dagger I had and then pulled my katana out of the closet. I think she is more like me than her parents are quite comfortable with. (evil grin) I would love to connect more with her.

    Anyway, more book reviews to come, as well as Life, the Universe and Everything.

    Book Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

    Hunter (Hunter, #1)Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    This book is an example of Mercedes Lackey at her finest. The world is well-built and deeply structured with its anti-grimdark, post-apocalyptic message that humanity can and will adapt to the strangest of catastrophes. Even the minor characters are sketched with haiku-like precision. The charming protagonist, Joyeaux Charmand, is the perfect blend of wisdom and innocence. She is an extraordinarily talented Hunter of Othersiders, the monsters of myth and legend, being called from her home in the hinterlands to Apex, the sanctuary city where the remnants of America’s citizens, “Cits” are protected behind magical Barriers. She is to there join the cadre of other Hunters, to protect and defend. The country mouse in the big city trope is understated and well-played.
    The story is told from Joy’s perspective. It flows maturely, thoughtfully, but is still fresh and youthful. Of course, as the main character, Joy is shown as special, but one is left with the foreboding sense of “to whom much has been given, much shall be required.”
    The one thing I really, really didn’t like about the book was the severe abrupt ending. Other than that, it was golden.

    I was given a free copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

    View all my reviews