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Adam Balm returns with an AICN Books round-up! The Authorized Ender Companion, Frankenstein, Twilight Zone and more!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I wanted to preface the return of AICN Books with an apology to Mr. Balm and you folks. My junk mail filter ate up this report originally and as a result it is a tad late. However, Adam Balm's work is too good to shelve, so a few of these reviews might be a few weeks out of date, but all are worth a read. I hope you enjoy the first of what I hope is the return of Mr. Balm's regular great column.

Uggh. You know...there's a phenomenon in publishing that I've noticed over the years which is getting harder and harder to ignore. For some reason, and I'm still not sure why, but the only time of year that I actually get books in the mail that I actually want to read is between the beginning of August and the end of October. The rest of the year is filled up with a slurry of paranormal romance, cookie cutter epic fantasy, by-the-numbers roleplaying and video game adaptations,YA, and Star Wars tie-ins. (Okay, I can't complain about the Star Wars tie-ins, I just don't have the interest to review them.) What makes it even worse is that half of what fills up my mailbox are books that are both YA *and* paranormal romance, which is just....ick. I mean, I try not to pass judgment on Stephanie Meyer fans, since they're a) usually female and b) usually barely old enough to get into an iCarly concert and c) don't know any better. But any male past drinking age who would actually want to read about thirteen year old girls necking with elves/faeries/werewolves/cave trolls should seriously be on some kind of list and not allowed near parks or elementary schools. It actually makes me paranoid that someone would think I would be into that. Anyway, getting back to the point I was making, the rest of the year is pretty much made up of scrounging through my unread pile, where maybe I get one or two books every couple of months that I think would make the cut, but it's usually never enough to make a column. But since it's that time of year again, I got a few goodies including your first look at the Authorized Ender Companion not due out til November, The Twilight Zone 50th anniversary anthology, the earliest Frankenstein manuscript now published for the first time, and a few others you'd be insane not to read... THE AUTHORIZED ENDER COMPANION by Jake Black Tor Honestly, I'm actually surprised it took so long for something like this to come out. I know that the last few Ender books I reviewed, I was pretty much stretching the limits of Wikipedia. And kudos to Tor for doing it all in-house since usually this kind of thing ends up being handed off to some third tier tabletop RPG company, which means everyone ends up debating its ultimate canonicity. But seeing how it's from Tor and seeing how OSC gave it his blessing, I guess Ender fans can avoid the whole fiasco that ensued with, say, the Dune Encyclopedia (Which had Herbert eventually denouncing it and his son claiming it was never canon to begin with). THE AUTHORIZED ENDER COMPANION is split up into seven sections, the encyclopedia taking up the first three hundred or so pages, with entries for pretty much every character, place, event, technology in the Ender universe. (Including the comics, which I guess settles the issue of whether the comics are canon or not.) After flipping through it over the last two or three weeks, I can't find anything of note that's been left out, but then again I'm not the most rabid fan. I suppose it's about as thorough as anything fan-written that you'd find on the net (Hell, there's even a separate entry for Mazer Rackham's spaceship, explaining why in an early draft of the movie script, Card named it after the Treaty of Waitangi.). Next is a timeline of events in the EU and Wiggin family tree, followed by the long and sordid history of development of the Ender movie, the Technology of Ender's Game, and finally something called “Friends of Ender”. The Technology of Ender's Game section is pretty nifty, publishing the first (That is, the first that I'm aware of...) 3D render and blueprints of the Battle School. The timeline, on the other hand, is a bit hard to see in my advanced reader copy, but hopefully that'll be fixed when it comes out in stores. But without a doubt the most fascinating part of the entire book is "Getting Ender Right" about the never-ending saga to bring Ender's Game to the big screen. Written by Aaron Johnston (Card's long time co-writer), it starts by describing the failed 2003 draft (which, like earlier drafts would have been a combination of the events of both Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, which sounds a bit like the approach of the latest Trek movie, just substitute Kirk and Spock for Ender and Bean. Ultimately this meant they had to cut out a lot, and the origins are cut. Especially Bean, who's origin which is the more complex. Although in one draft they do show his days on the street, turning him into a John Conneresque computer hacker breaking into ATMs. All it needs is a scene where Bean is showing the Buggers how to be hip and speak earth slang. And then guitars squeal.). But this wasn't nearly the biggest departure from the book. In most drafts though, while hewing pretty close to the plot of the book, they completely re-invent Ender. One draft had turned him into a dashing young Han Solo type with a love interest. Another one turned him into a comic book nerd who sneaks with him to battle his longbox and ends up debating in his bunk if Superman could beat up Spider-Man. Because that's not pandering. Still in other drafts he ends up being a weepy little shit who goes crying off to Graff begging to be transferred whenever someone picks on him. As different as all these interpretations are, I think they all actually misunderstand Ender in the same way. See, Ender didn't do what he did because he was a dashing rogue who loved showing off (In the Han Soloesque version), and he didn't do it because he was trying to live up to his idols in the funnybooks, and he didn't run off and cry whenever things got tough. Ender did what he had to do, because he had no other choice. He was on his own. There was no one who was going to help him, and there was nowhere he could run to or hide. Everything else follows from that. Any script that doesn't have that as a basis, is building its house on some damn shifting sand. And all drafts except for Card's own excluded the computer game with the giant, which is a little important since we later learned was the Buggers trying desperately to communicate with Ender. In some scripts, they took out Graff, or combined Graff and Mazer into one character. That might be sacrilege to some, but I honestly don't care. What does bother me is how in a lot of the drafts, most of the brutality gets the axe (Especially the scene with Stilson that shows not just how tactically brilliant Ender is, but more importantly how ruthless he has to be.), in part because of R rating fears and in part because any viciousness on Ender's part would supposedly confuse audiences as to who the bad guy is. (Hint hint, the bad guy is the producer who oversaw all these scripts). The showdown with Bonzo is thus completely rewritten, mostly to take it out of the shower because of the nudity issues. Which...is probably a smart move actually. In the book it makes it all the more disturbing because he's completely helpless there, ala the shower scene in Psycho. Bizarrely, at the same time some drafts pared down the violence, other drafts played it up, with Ender turning feral in a kind of berserker rage. (And then Ender and Peter team up to fight Deadpool.) Again this shows a misunderstanding of the character, and the entire point that the violence served in the book. All the fight scenes in Ender's Game were never about the fights themselves, but were a kind of...social signaling. Basically the equivalent of kicking someone's ass the first day if you're ever sent to prison. And again, the reason always goes back to the fact that Ender did what he had to do, because he was on his own. No one seemed to have understood that in the script process except Card himself. The last section, Ender's Friends, is a series of testimonials on how Ender's Game has affected the lives of different readers. I guess having a “How Ender's Game Changed My Life!” section might strike some as kind of “infomercially”, but I think I can guess why they included it. Maybe it's the fact that Ender's Game is a juvenile and people are more impressionable when they're young, but whenever I bring up the Ender books with another fan, it's not like talking about Foundation, or the Dorsai/Childe Cycle series, or Dragonriders of Pern, or any of the other series that we think of as hallmarks of the genre. (Maybe Dune comes close.) It's hard to put into words and maybe it's just a selection bias on my part, but you can strike up a conversation with a total stranger and suddenly you mention Ender's Game, and it's like you just brought up the Beatles to some people. There's something bigger going on. If anything, this guide helps illuminate why. Ender's Game, like all juveniles that end up crossing the age barrier, always have more happening below the surface. The Ender books were complex, disturbing, challenging, at the same time they were oversimplifying and all too reassuring. Yes, they were adolescent power fantasies, geek comfort food for the inner twelve year old dreaming proto-fascist dreams where might makes right, and where they are the mighty. But if that's all you think the Ender books are, then Anakin you are lost. Card was able to tap into something that has resonated across generations. With Ender, Card might have become SF's J.D. Salinger. THE AUTHORIZED ENDER COMPANION will be released in November. TWILIGHT ZONE: 19 ORIGINAL STORIES ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY edited by Carol Serling Tor Just as a disclaimer: I was never steeped in TZ lore and trivia as most AICNers. Probably over the course of my life I've seen maybe every Twilight Zone episode of the 60s series at least once or twice (My favorite episode was the ironic one), and virtually nothing of the two “modern” series. The movie was probably a bad idea to begin with; two hours of episode remakes with the only original story being clumsy and heavy-handed. I think TZ, like Star Trek, was really a product of its time, where television was just starting to experiment with what the medium could do, the right place at the right time for magic to happen. And like Trek, all later installments (DS9 aside) lost its edge. In my mind, I think you can divide up all the original TZ episodes into just a few groups. First, you got the episodes that more or less break down into your standard social revenge fantasies, where all the assholes in the world who give in to greed or bigotry or self-absorption finally get what's coming to them. (See: "Escape Clause" "A Kind of a Stopwatch", "Sounds and Silences", "A Piano in the House", “A Thing About Machines”, "Time Enough At Last", etc...) They were like PSA's, but if PSA's were written by the best writers on television, and with no small amount of schadenfreudic glee. Anyway, that part of the show is pretty well represented in this collection. In “Family Man”, we meet a boss who lays other people off to save his own skin (with the excuse that he'd like to keep his employees on, but gee, he's got this wife and kids to think about...). But one day he finally loses the family he takes for granted and hides behind. The story's relevant but not terribly well told. In Whitley Strieber's “The Good Neighbor”, probably one of the three top stories in the collection, (Which is pretty ironic for me to say, since after Thomas Disch's brilliant take-down of COMMUNION, I could never take the man seriously.). In “The Good Neighbor”, in a thinly veiled reference to racial tension when the “complexion” of a neighborhood changes, Strieber has a man find out what it's like to be on the other side of the color line. “The Art of Miniature” is like a lot of TZ eps that revolve around some misanthrope who cares more about some useless hobby than the people around him. Here the obsession of the man in question is bonzai trees. Now these episodes usually end with the asshole having the one thing he loves used against him or taken away from him. Interestingly enough, that moment never arrives here. The just deserts go to someone who did nothing wrong, which made it all the more creepy. In the second group of Twilight Zone episodes, you have the ones that are just straight-up paranoia filled mindfucks, where only one person spots in the world can see that there's something out of place and can't seem to convince anyone that---no, god damn it he's not crazy and there really is a fucking gremlin on the wing and it's going to kill us all! (Examples would be "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" obviously, "Person or Persons Unknown", "A Penny for Your Thoughts", “The Parallel”, “The Dummy”) Here in “The Street That Time Forgot”, we find a perfect suburban gated community (A trope that's been a tad overused in SF parables about suburban sprawl but oh well.) where *gasp* things aren't as perfect as they seem! (Bum Bum BUM!) Everyone's being turned into zombies by television, which would have fit in perfectly in the series original run but now seems kind of dated. Another group of episodes in the 60s show had war as a recurring theme (“Quality of Mercy”, “The Purple Testament”), which sometimes manifested itself wars long past or the threat of nuclear annihilation just on the horizon. And there's plenty of that to go around here too. “Genesis”, written by David Hagberg and the first entry in the anthology, is a kind of stream-of-consciousness waking dream about a character known only as “The Corporal”, fighting in the Pacific in the waning days of WWII. The past, the present and the future collide in a confusing meta-fiction that only comes together on the last page. At times it comes pretty close to pretentiousness, for one thing it takes no lack of balls to write a phrase like "...up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits in the stars, waiting, waiting with the patience of aeons..." Anyone who's familiar with the creators of TZ probably already knows who this is really about. Despite the flaws, it's a proper tribute. “Puowaina” and “Ghost Writer” both deal two different people in two different time periods, one on the cusp of a war no one saw coming, the other in the middle of a war that was always inevitable. (“ Ghost Writer” is written by Rod's older brother Robert and seems to be a subtle nod to "Back There".) “The Soldier He Needed to Be” is a lot like “Genesis”, in that both are essentially about trying to overcome cowardice under fire. Another trope that's also revisited multiple times in the collection, just as it was in the show, is the hitch-hiker. Two stories feature the theme, one of which (“On the Road”) is probably the best entry in the collection. Which is funny since it doesn't fit as a Twilight Zone story at all. It doesn't have any supernatural elements, an O. Henry twist at the end, or any kind of social commentary (Beyond the standard stoner rambling you'd expect from a story about two aging hippies). “On the Road” is just a story about two people who met years ago, and meeting again years later. It works as literary fiction if not a Twilight Zone episode, and you could easily imagine it appearing in something like Tin House. The other Hitch-hiker story is “Truth or Consequences”, which feels all too much like an exact scene for scene remake of “The Hitch-Hiker". Lastly there's “El Moe”, the unproduced Rod Serling treatment which might or might not have been written for TZ. (No one will ever know.) It's a little bit Borges and a little bit Cervantes. In fact, the way it deals with the perception of one's identity versus reality reminded me a lot of both Borges' “Theme of the Traitor and the Hero” and “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote”. For a man like Serling who became a kind of legend himself, who no doubt struggled with the image fans of Twilight Zone had of him, I can't think of a better way to end an anthology put together to honor him. The Final verdict: TWILIGHT ZONE: 19 ORIGINAL STORIES ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY isn't perfect or even close. It's uneven, with too many stories disappointing and too many that are nostalgianautic remember-whens, mining territory long since tamed and settled by others. But I guess there's just enough standouts to make it worth the fifteen bucks for the trade paperback. THE ORIGINAL FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley (With Percy Shelley) Vintage For some reason, I don't know why, it's become hip in the last few years to talk smack about Mary Shelley, to try and play down her contribution to FRANKENSTEIN, and play up all the “help” that her husband Percy must have given her. If you ask me, I think you could draw a lot of parallels with all the Shakespeare conspiracy theorists who continue to claim that Shakespeare was just a front man, and didn't write any of the plays attributed to him. The logic of the deniers goes something like this: Someone who had almost no education and who wrote in taverns could never have written MACBETH or KING LEAR (Because both show an insight into the European upper-crust and life at court, thus it had to have been Francis Bacon or Edward de Vere. QED.), and he couldn't have written something like ROMEO AND JULIET and MERCHANT OF VENICE (Because both could only be written by someone cosmopolitan who traveled all over. Thus it must have been someone like Marlowe who lived in Italy). So by the same twisted logic, FRANKENSTEIN (With all its references to Milton, Dante, Aeschylus, Plutarch, and Albertus Magnus) couldn't have been written by a chick with no formal education and little or nothing artistic of note to her name. Ergo, it would have had to have been at least partially written by a poet and classicist like Percy. So goes the prayer. But now Vintage is putting the argument (hopefully) to rest by releasing for the first time, both the earliest manuscript known to be written solely in Mary Shelley's handwriting, and a second version with Percy Shelley's "corrections" included. And after reading both versions, in all honestly, it's striking how little difference there actually is between the two, beyond a few word changes and a paragraph or two added here and there. More surprising was how pointless and unnecessary most of Percy's changes were. Mary Shelley's writing by itself is a pretty easy read, a little more conversational. This kind of sets her prose apart from the baroque, dense, and obscure style that was currently in vogue. In a way this puts her ahead of her time. Percy on the other hand, had different ideas. Percy would have been a dick to play scrabble with, because any time he crosses out a word and replaces it, it's always something that says exactly the same thing with more syllables and an older, more difficult phrasing. "Plenty" is changed to "sufficient", a "great deal" becomes a "great quantity","faded" becomes "extinguished", "caused by" becomes "derive their origin from". There's almost no reason to switch out one word for another other than to show all your literary buddies that you're the proud owner of both a thesaurus and an ego. Besides just comparing Mary's and Percy's contributions, the notes at the end are pretty interesante. I for one didn't know that Ingolstadt, where Victor Frankenstein decided to get his education, was where the Illuminati was supposedly founded, just as one example. Reading THE ORIGINAL FRANKENSTEIN is probably as close as you can come to being a fly on the wall that summer in 1816 when a few bored poets got together and decided to pass the time telling ghost stories. I guess there are some out there, who for them that's seeing how the sausage is made. It loses some of the magic. But sometimes the magic is in the retelling. THE WINDUP GIRL by Paolo Bacigalupi Night Shade I think I may be paraphrasing badly, but Larry Niven once said something to the effect that society is never more than three meals away from collapse. And although Niven was the first to throw the idea out there, Paolo Bacigalupi is probably the first author to parlay that one thought into an entire writing career. His shorts over the last decade have helped brand him as the William Gibson of environmental fiction. He took the sensibility of cyberpunk, the attitude, the bleakness and the suspicion of a world increasingly globalized and corporatized and he slapped it all onto a 21st century vision of a future shaped by oil-scarcity, a rising Asia, climate change, genetically engineered famines. Where the cyberpunks, taking their cues from Marshall McLuhan, asked what would happen in a world where too few have control over information and media---Paolo instead takes his cues from Jared Diamond, asking what happens when too few have control over whether people eat or starve. (Which, when you think about it, is a thousand times more terrifying.) He's made a name for himself as an up-and-comer, with any new short story he writes as guaranteed to wind up in a Year's Best anthology as if his name was Ted Chiang. His first collection, PUMP SIX, was even listed by one commentator (Jonathan McCalmont ) as one of the best SF books of the last 20 years. And he's done all this up until now without as yet publishing a single novel. (Advice he learned from Gibson himself after cornering him at a con years back.) Well, with WINDUP GIRL, I think it's fair to say he's no longer an up-and-comer. First novels, especially with genre writers are usually familiar territory, a cross between a remix and retrospective of an author's short stories. Authors take their favorite elements from their short work and hopefully assemble in their novel something that's greater than the sum of its parts. So it's not surprising that here in THE WINDUP GIRL we have a calorie man, we have Hock Seng from “Yellow Card Man” (As well as the setting), the titular Windup Girl even is a bit reminiscent of the Fluted Girl. What's less familiar, and what surprised me, was the tone. The ever-present and repressive bleakness of Bacigalupi's shorts has been eased down a notch, with WINDUP GIRL taking place long after a lot of the stories in the CALORIE MAN universe, when civilization is finally starting to pick itself up of the floor again as it enters the second Expansion. You might point to it as evidence that Bacigalupi is either growing soft, or that he's taming his gloominess to reach a wider audience. Either way I don't know how many will complain. Set in futuristic Bangkok, we follow several threads, one involving a “white shirt” in the environmental ministry who has made a name for himself cracking down on smugglers of genetic contraband, an undercover calorie hunter posing as a factory owner, a ruined Chinese immigrant still bent on making a big score and returning to his former glory. Emiko, the "windup girl" in question is actually probably the least interesting element of the novel, and the only less-than-original concept on display here. After SATURN'S CHILDREN and BSG, fembots (even genetically engineered ones) have been covered. Ultimately, unlike reading one of his short stories, THE WINDUP GIRL doesn't leave you sitting in stunned silence afterward, trying to take in all of what I just read. Commercially that's probably a good thing. Harold Bloom may think nihilism is a requirement of any great novel but I'd guess that most readers don't want to be left at the bottom of a black hole when they close the book. I'm not going to pretend to be unbiased, I've been reviewing Bacigalupi and saying he's the next big thing for a couple of years now. WINDUP GIRL is only going to add velocity to Bacigalupi's rise and I'd be surprised if it isn't on more than a few awards list next year. THE QUIET WAR by Paul McAuley Pyr There's a real Émile Zola/William Faulkner/George R.R. Martin vibe that Paul McAuley is trying to do with QUIET WAR, a sprawling multi-generational family story of war and upheaval. It's not trying to forge ahead into new territory as much as it's trying to be big. Really big. Fuck-all big. There's more characters in the first fifty pages than I could possibly keep track of without taking notes. True, it's a story that's been told a thousand times: Families, torn down the middle by war, are forced to take sides, brother against brother. A blurb on the back of the book might read “QUIET WAR is a NORTH AND SOUTH in space!” The actual reason for the war---a backwater and inward looking ecologically focused earth coming into conflict with an evolving techno-utopia of the outer planets---is a little incidental. It's not new or important. Pick up a Greg Bear novel or short story from 25 years ago and you'll find a world that looks not too different. Just substitute Bear's Naderites for McAuley's earth-bound Greater Brazil, and Geshels for the Outers. The Outers are the standard post-human e-democracy/adhocracy/demarchy society you see in a lot of SF in the last ten years. As for Greater Brazil----well, it's clear McAuley thinks all this "green" and environmental stuff is nothing more than a new quasi-religion. It makes for a stark contrast having both QUIET WAR and WINDUP GIRL coming out right around the same time. But I don't really care about his politics, so long as he doesn't make it the centerpiece of the story, which thankfully he doesn't. That's just the set-up. What matters is what happens next. But that's getting ahead of myself. Here's the background: After the cataclysm caused by climate change, the existing superpowers fled to the moon and Mars, and finally even further out into the outer gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn, leaving the poorer equatorial nations to inherit a broken earth. Greater Brazil is the biggest player, and it's dominated by an oligarchy of old families and their gene wizards who are now doing the work of restoring ruined a biosphere. But their pursuit of resurrecting an earth long gone has made them narrow-minded and afraid of change, viewing anything that isn't “natural” as an abomination. This puts them at odds with the Outers, the technophilic descendents of those who fled earth, who have been experimenting with the human condition and are gradually evolving into something that can hardly become human anymore. The only chance of uniting the two branches of the human race is a biome project (A gift from the government of Brazil to the Outers.) at Rainbow Bridge, on Jupiter's moon Callisto. But when the project's major proponent in Brazil's government dies, backing for detente with the Outers loses its only advocate. A faction that has never been happy with the uneasy peace with the Outers soon set plans in motion preparing for war. Suddenly there appear to be a series of murders on Callisto, quickly covered up and pinned on scapegoats like Macy Minot. Of the cast of thousands in Quiet War, Macy gets the most face time. After a colleague is killed and the murder is pinned on her, she flees to the other side, where she finds herself used no less by the Outers than the earthers. Things don't go much easier for the gene wizard Sri Hong-Owen, who despite being a "gene wizard" and padawan to the Green Saint Oscar Ramos, ends up being nothing more than a pawn between the faction ramping up for war and the peaceniks who want to keep the status quo. Complicating all this is the fact that the Outers are evolving, splitting away from humanity at such a rate that within a single generation, they'll have no interest or kinship with the rest of humanity. The doves on earth see this as the last chance to forge a united human race, while the hawks see it as the only way to bring the Outers to their knees before they become so alien that they begin viewing humans as incomprehensible and repulsive little relics. McAuley makes his point with the analogy of Herring Gulls, a species of bird that is separated by the Atlantic ocean, one side confined to the eastern shores and the other to the western shores of the Americas. Despite being the same species, the two could no longer interbreed, reproducing only with subspecies on their own side of the Atlantic. All the ideas of the novel finally crystallize in a speech by Avernus, who tried futility to halt the frenzy leading up to the war. Once perhaps the greatest gene wizard of them all, she has now become just another a refugee without a home: "[A]re all of us, good and bad alike, no more than foam carried on the crest of a wave, helpless to stop or direct t? Perhaps history is the history of the mob, and the stories of old in which heroes change or save the world are no more than stories. Lies told to children." Even though it was a little hard to finish at times, I have to admit that there's really been nothing like THE QUIET WAR since Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, with its cast of thousands, its philosophical pondering, its ecological infodumps, and social realism. In fact, it even has the same faults as the Mars trilogy. Where Robinson would go on for pages describing landscape after landscape of nothing more but rocks and craters, McAuley is waaaay too in love with his own biological musings. I loved the little science tidbits every 500 words, but I don't know how many would be all that interested in the microbial ecosystems of soil, or what is the most efficient way to absorb hydrocarbons from the atmosphere on Titan, a parasol tree or a sponge. But it's about time we had some brilliant solar system-centric hard SF again. And speaking as someone who popped his SF fan cherry on Interzone, it's pretty kickass seeing McAuley back again doing what he does best. sfbooks@aintitcoolmail.com

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 25, 2009, 7:49 p.m. CST

    It's Frahnkenshteen!

    by rctowns

    Oh, yeah!

  • Oct. 25, 2009, 8:01 p.m. CST

    My dad just finished the TWILIGHT "saga" That's right...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...not book one, or even two. <P>The TWILIGHT SAGA.<P>Does anyone understand my pain?...my, shame?

  • Oct. 25, 2009, 8:03 p.m. CST

    ...I have a neighbor who's dad in awaiting trial for...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...attempted murder.<P>She sort of understands...but not really.

  • Oct. 25, 2009, 8:20 p.m. CST

    I've read the Twilight saga

    by scnjedi

    Books two and three weren't too horrible, with parts of them bordering on good. As for Frankenstein, I might give it a look at some point. Right now I'm getting to grips with House of Leaves.

  • Oct. 25, 2009, 9:54 p.m. CST

    Aww Flicka sorry man...

    by THEoverfiend

    seriously fighting the good fight to keep that shit out of the house but the forces of evil are conspiring against me. you need to save your dad man. walk up to him, lovingly place your hands on both sides of his face, look at him as a good son should, then slap the holy hell out of him. it is for his own good. unless he is a badass. then follow above steps and run quickly after completing

  • Oct. 25, 2009, 10:35 p.m. CST

    scnjedi...definitely read FRANKENSEIN...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...much better and surprisingly different from all the movies.<P>Overfiend. Thank you, but the damage is done I'm afraid.

  • Oct. 26, 2009, 12:01 a.m. CST

    No love for Peter and Max???

    by jimbojones123

    I am about 200 pages in, and the thing is fantastic. Bill is so fun as a linguist. Oh, and Fables rules.

  • Oct. 26, 2009, 10:05 a.m. CST

    I love this

    by jrummel

    Please have more book reviews on here!

  • Oct. 26, 2009, 10:19 a.m. CST

    If Mary Shelley looked even half as hot as Elsa

    by seppukudkurosawa

    Lanchester, she was teh sexx! Mary Shelley was proof positive that some of the most sordid thoughts lie behind the blandest, comeliest brows.

  • Oct. 26, 2009, 3:39 p.m. CST

    the argument against Shelly having written Frankenstein

    by crazybubba

    is so weak i can't believe its taken seriously. Her lack of formal education is the argument, seriously? Have any of these people researched who her parents were? They were the intellectual equivalents of university professors. Both parents were widely published writers of some very complex stuff. I'm against homeschooling in the modern era but Shelly's parents were the ideal teachers for a homeschooling environment.

  • Oct. 26, 2009, 4:25 p.m. CST

    Please, more book reviews!!!!!!!!!!!

    by crazybubba

  • Oct. 27, 2009, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Welcome back, Mr. Balm

    by couP

    I've missed this column