Saturday, August 27, 2005

BOOKS: 4 For World War II

World War II has been popping up in my most recent spate of reading. While only one specifically occurs during the timeframe of WWII, all deal tangentially with the subject in an adventurous aor science fictional way.

I just finished John Birmingham’s Weapons of Choice. It’s sort of a reverse-take on The Philadelphia Experiment. In that movie, a sailor is jumped 40 years into the future from a WWII naval vessel. It’s a good one. Rent it.

The reverse happens in Weapons of Choice, as a naval flotilla a dozen or so years in the future, is sent back into the looming Battle of Midway. And naturally, 21st century technology is akin to magic to the hard-fighting men of the 40’s. Brutally so. The opening skirmish runs the first quarter of the book and reads like a Tom Clancy hardware descriptive. It’s detailed to the extent I was wondering where all the good reviews of this book were coming from, since I’m not a Clancy aficionado. Then, comes a page that simply says “D├ętente.”

And from there on, the book is fascinating. And crude, and racist, and misogynist and probably a lot like what those times were like. It’s pretty good. Except for one thing.

THERE IS NO ENDING.


Actually, the book comes to a stop, with an ad for the next part of the series, due in November of this year. AAARRRRRGGHHHH!!!! Not a single word about duology, trilogy or whatever is planned, graces the cover. And none of the reviews I read mentioned it either. There ought to be a law consigning publishers who don’t admit to an incomplete story to some sort of stygian jail cell in the outback of Afghanistan.

I recommend you buy this book a few years down the line when Birmingham’s finished the series. Until then, read at your own peril.

Somewhere in the middle of the first section of Weapons of Choice, I took the time to read the Top Ten: The Forty-Niners graphic novel by Alan Moore and Gene Ha. It deals with the aftermath of WWII, when all the super-heroes who fought on both sides of the way, returned to the USA and to Neopolis specifically. It’s a prequel of sorts for the Top Ten series of comics that posit a future where EVERY resident of Neopolis has some sort of super power and the cops who have to police them.

Moore is an exceedingly talented writer. He pays homage to the history of comics while twisting them in a way that takes a certain maturity to read. In fact, this book should have a mature readers’ label on it. I certainly wouldn’t want the younger members of my Movie Mob reading it. Gene Ha’s artwork is a fitting companion to Moore’s words.

The book itself takes the reader through the nascent Neopolis that is a slum of sorts for super-heroes. There’s sex and violence, horror and triumph. This hard-cover graphic novel isn’t cheap, near fourty bucks after taxes, but it does show what good writing and good art can do for an original American art form.

Following those two books, I started off on my Clive Cussler reading month. I had four Cussler books on the top of the reading pile and grabbed The Lost City first. It’s a Kurt Austin adventure, Cussler’s ‘B’ series lead character. WWII gets little shrift in this book, which starts at the cusp of the first World War instead. However, it is stated in the book that one of the BAD people in the book was instrumental in the fomenting of both World Wars. Soooo, I guess it qualifies as a member of this reading set.

The Lost City is not Cussler at his best. It’s certainly a cinematic story, but the solutions to many of the problems are unbelievable or too simple for the supposedly bright folks who get involved. Bluntly, this is a Cussler tome that can be skipped.

Cussler’s ‘A’ character is Dirk Pitt and Black Wind is shared by Pitt and his son, Dirk Jr. It starts off late in WWII with some evil Japanese do-badders and sets up a bunch of Korean zealots as a pre-cursor to a current day “evil organization” not too unlike Al Qaeda. A failed attempt to try and gas cities on the North American west coast in WWII revives to become a threat to modern-day America. Cussler’s love of mcguffins once again leads a reader down a path to nowhere, but the rest of the book is decent Cussler. My faith in Cussler has been shaken occasionally over the years, and I HATE, REALLY HATE, his annoying habit of late of injecting a Cussler character into his books, but it’s a page-turner. Perfect for summer-reading.

No more WWII for me for the next while. A couple of Cussler’s ‘C’ series books dealing with The Corporation await.

1 comment:

UnderPressure said...

Amazing: there is someone out there that also thinks that "Electric Dreams" is such a great film.
I´m not all alone in the Universe!!