Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mortal Kombat With a Friend in Vietnam

Marvel debuted their new online comics venture, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, last week to much discussion and consternation. Have you checked it out? I played around with it myself, and found about a million things I despise about the interface, but overall was generally surprised by its breadth of content and affordability. Sadly, they won't be getting my sign-up moolah as I can't stand reading comics on a computer screen for an extended period of time, and I have a healthy obsession with books. More on this in a moment.

I was watching Charlie Rose last night (quiet you! I love Charlie Rose. I wouldn't marry him or anything, but his show is a shining beacon of hope in the cultural wasteland that is Televisionland) and his guest was Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of, Newsweek cover boy, pimping his company's new product, Kindle. It's basically an iPod for books; it's about the size and heft of a trade paperback novel and features a current library of 120,000 titles is available for wireless download in under sixty seconds, $10 each regardless of the physical book's cover price. Kindle looks like the biological baby of a Star Trek datapad and an Etch-a-Sketch Animator (remember that thing? Jeez I loved that toy!). It'll store 200 books at a time, and any that you delete are stored on the website's server for future reference. All in all it's kinda nifty. (*Please note: I have no idea the details of Kindle's legal ramifications, nor creator's rights and royalties issues. It appears that Amazon has shored up agreements with most major publishers, but you never know what those pesky writers will do to get paid for the digital reproduction of their work -- see: WGA strike. BTW -- Power, brothers and sisters!).

All this is prologue to the following: This is by no means the death of The Book, nor are these the digital John the Baptist of the great paradigm shift in how we read and enjoy the written word. Not to be presumptuous or overly inclusive, but if you're like me, we love BOOKS, the physical books. The smell of them. The lending to your friends. The joy of giving your favorite as a gift. Owning a 1st Edition of your favorite. When were you last inclined to pay ten bucks for the e-Book edition of a cheap mass market SF novel? With regards to a book's design -- When was the last time you looked at an e-Book brilliantly designed by Chip Kidd or Catherine Casalino? Never, because it ain't gonna happen. When was the last time you wished they'd get the single issues finished so you can wait for the online trade? Never because, frankly, why bother?

We're Forbidden Planet, and we realize you want your BOOKS. And we gots lots of 'em!!! And they smell terrific!

X-Men: God Loves Man Kills Premiere HC - Fancy schmanzy reprint of seminal X-story by Chris Claremont (w) & Brent Anderson (a). One of the best, if not THE BEST, X-Men stories of all time. I carried this book around with me everywhere I went for a year when I was twelve, This book is hardcore. From the opening scene of Magneto discovering the bodies of two executed mutant children, throughout the rest of this gripping yarn, GLMK never feels like a dopey super-hero book. Never treats you like a short bus reject. It also features my favorite X-Team -- Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Wolverine and Professor X. It also takes place outside the realm of the soap opera of X-Men continuity. Thusly, GLMK is the least convoluted, most accessible X graphic novel. If you've never read a Marvel mutant book, this is the one to start with. I'll be picking mine up this week -- I need it in sexy hardcover/book form!

This Week's Hugo Award Winning SF Novel?

Dune - by Frank Herbert. The dreaded winter looms (We hates the nasty cold! We does, my precious... we hates it!) so let's read Dune in an attempt to psychosomatically warm ourselves up, huh? The great SF adventure epic for the ages, Dune follows the saga of the desert planet called Arrakis, unassuming power center of a sprawling galactic Empire, and sole source of Melange, the Spice that powers interstellar travel and source of great psychic power. Indigenous religious fanatics, Sandworms that'd dwarf Union Square, weapons powered by a single sound, "I, Claudius"-type political intrigue, more back-stabbing and deception than a novella on Telemundo... Dune's sheer scope is astounding and exhilarating. Dune makes Star Wars look like a quaint movie for a dreary afternoon -- a real yawnfest, Daddy-o! If you've never read Dune it's time for you to take the plunge into the big kids' end of the plasma pool. If, like me, you're old hat at this: The Spice Must Flow.

"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
-Mark Twain

Be Well,



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