5. Captain48 If you're on the fence about re-watching, you should do it! It's totally rewarding. 10. hoopmanjh Oh yeah, uh, that cat lady? I can't remember her name either.
3. ChristopherLBennett You mention a few things I wish I had worked into the article! I love that TAS invented "Tiberius". 4. Phil Duff HUH! I stand corrected.
Huh. The minotaur thing is interesting. I like grouping them together under the banner of "the accursed".
58. & 59. Delafina Yes, yes. Yes. Yes. And yes. You are correct on all counts. The suppression of brilliant female (and queer and nonwhite) writers from the canon is a thing that quite dwarfs this one weird writer and this one weird series, and me defending whether these deserve greater canonicity than I think they have. Dwarfs by several orders of magnitude. This is a thing I've struggled with since I first read the books, and quite a bit moreso in the last decade(ish) of my life as I've come to more formally recognize and try to engage with the pernicious, pervasive effects of misogyny in popular culture, and in the media I say that I love. I will tell you that it's difficult for me to mount an effective defense of the series on those grounds without sounding - to myself - like an awful apologist. It's also a thing that I don't even know if I should attempt. It's been ... probably close to 20 years since I last read Lord Foul's Bane (for the 2nd or 3rd time), so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little afraid to re-read it. At 38 I'm not the same reader I was at 18. If there was a "major fantasy work" that was coming out today, in 2013, that had the plot described to me the way the plot of Lord Foul's Bane was described to you -- I would unhesitatingly tell that book to go **** itself. What? Main character just fridges some young girl in the first hundred pages? No. There is no force on Earth, no review so persuasive, no rhetoric so unimpeachable, no critical consensus so unanimous, that would compel me to read that book. No way. I have better ways to spend my time and my money. The only thing that would convince me would be if someone I personally know and trust told me to read it. And you don't know me. My apologia largely rests on the subjective fact that, 24 years after first picking it up, I am still thinking about this series. While I do recognize the books' deficits of style, and their problematic tropes, the fact is they contain so many memorable moments I will carry to the end of my life. That is not hyperbole. There are books that I unreservedly love more than anything - wonderful, perfect books, books that I am not ashamed of recommending - that do not keep me up at night remembering odd scenes here and there the way that I, to this day, reminisce over scenes in the first Covenant trilogy. This may speak more to the emotional development of 14 year old boys than to any real merits of the series - though I don't believe that that's fully the case. I guess I'm going to have to re-read them to find out for sure. (Oh god, did I just commit to re-reading these ... )
57. sps49 Yeah, I get that Donaldson tells us "Covenant feels or thinks X", but in that moment, Donaldson really really fails to sell X - which is kind of a big deal because it's a big moment, and in other places in the story Donaldson has shown himself to be really good at selling other Xs as believable to us, the reader. So I think it makes that moment feel a little contrived.
54. DRickard Yes! That is it in a nutshell. 55. billiam I know how you feel, and have had a similar love/hate relationship with the books ... pretty much my entire adult life.
51. Confutus I say this not to be dismissive of your reading of the text, only to stress how important I feel it is to grapple unapologetically with the dicey elements of it.
51. Confutus While this is true, I think the unavoidably problematic thing about the whole situation is that it is viewed through the lens of the rapist. There's not really any mitigating it: you either accept it or you don't. We the reader, if we persist in reading the book, have literally no choice but to empathize and try to understand the feelings of a man who committed rape on a girl. (I don't know if he ever explicity defines Lena's age, but she is definitely not an adult.) Yes, the message is that there is no redemption and forgiveness for him, but that means it's ... still all about him. The guilt he feels, the destruction of lives around around him, the ways it changes him -- the books are about how these things affect him and make him feel. It's not Lena's story, it's not Atiaran's story, it's not Elena's story. It's Covenant's story. And also yeah, rapist doesn't imply "habitual rape" - that's why we have a separate term "serial rapist". Covenant raped, he's a rapist. If you commit a murder, you can't be all "But it was just one!" You're a murderer. You don't really get to have a mulligan on that because you also felt bad about it afterwards. Which, as The Other Lex points out above, is in a way Donaldson's point. Still, again, the very structure of the book privileges the feelings of the attacker over those of the victim. That is a big deal.
49. The Other Lex I think a more general issue with Donaldson as a writer is ... he's just bad at beginnings. The set-up to each trilogy/series he's written are almost uniformly weaker than what follows (I'm looking at you, Gap Cycle), and his smaller or single-book efforts (like Mordant's Need, or his detective novels) just kind of fall flat. I think honestly it's just part of his style -- he needs that sediment on top of sediment, that avalance of verbiage, to build an effective foundation to reach your emotions. Getting there can be kind of a pain, but when he does, whoa, look out.
47. The Other Lex Yes! Agreed how that scene simply doesn't work, which is a problem given how central to the narrative it is. You just kind of have to move forward with how the scene should have worked, to you, as a reader, than how it actually does. It's got a lot of problems - mechanically, I mean, as the literary device Donaldson hopes it is - but prime among them is that while you're supposed to feel that Covenant legitimately believes himself to be in an unreal space where morality and immorality are irrelevant, you as the reader never believe it. Covenant is suspicious, but we readers are credulous, and believe what we are shown: is the character really in a weird fantasy land? Answer: yes. Is it a dream or hallucination? Answer: no. Donaldson never really puts in any effort at all to make the reader feel like it's possibly a delusion, aside from assuming that transportation to a fantasy land (in a fantasy novel no less!) must obviously be hallucinatory and unreal.
44. Kerita27 Yes, that is a reasonable and not-incorrect reaction to that scene. As I first read it, when I was 14 (as you were), I actually kind of passed over the scene because I literally could not conceive of a story in which you were given a protagonist to follow where that scene actually happens. I thought it was a dream or hallucination or I'd clearly misread it and what was happening wasn't what I thought it was. I think it was the end of the book or the beginning of the next when it finally dawned on dumb old me, Holy crap, that thing really HAPPENED?
39. Delafina In short: yes. In grasping at brevity I maybe downplayed the degree to which these books are hella problematic when it comes to masculinity and feminity. I mean, I feel like I could extemporize an essay right now easily triple the length of this review on how problematic it is. I will put it to you straight: when it comes to gender, these books are a problem. It's not like George R. R. Martin where you can easily have a spirited discussion of his works as feminist texts, or as having feminist subtext. You are right, the rape of Lena is all about the consequences and emotional fallout for the attacker, not the victim. That alone, as I mention, is a legitimate reason to sneer in disgust at the books when you see them on the shelf, rather than pick them up and read them. And while Covenant takes a bit of a back seat in books 4 through 10 to his female counterpart and co-protagonist Linden Avery, the presence of a woman as a main character (as mentioned there are books in which Covenant is catatonic through the whole thing) doesn't really change the root of the problem, which is Donaldson's take on men and women. (Avery is introduced in book 4 and doesn't get mentioned in my review because I stuck to describing the first trilogy.) I mean, I legitimately believe that Stephen R. Donaldson is a well-meaning writer who at least thinks he's thoughtfully grappling with gender. But he sucks at it, the way, say, well ... let me tell a story. My mom raised me to be super aggressively anti-racism, for which I am infinitely and eternally grateful. When I was a kid I would sometimes meet some of her friends, kind of stridently left-wing in that right-on 1970s way. And while they clearly and sincerely believed racism was wrong and evil, and would speak freely on the subject and politically organize for it ... at times, as a kid, I thought they were really kind of ... patronizing towards the minorities whose empowerment they were devoted to, and pretty classist and patrician in their attitudes and behavior, and, well, kinda racist sometimes. That's kind of how I feel about Donaldson. I feel like he often means well but ... Yeah, he sucks at it. And don't even get me started on The Gap Cycle, which could aptly be renamed the Trigger Warning Cycle, as I remember feeling sometimes like those books were a bizarre round-robin of sexual assault in which most characters, male and female, took equal turns as victims.
35. StrongDreams Ah yes, the superhero shave! I think that's in book 4 or 5, and I remember thinking at the time, "Well, that's handy." I also think I've seen Superman do it with his heat vision and a mirror a few times. 36. J Town I had a similar hard time with the second trilogy at first. But I think Linden Avery was important. My biggest bone of contention with the latter trilogy and quartet is that ... Covenant's journey is, for me, really emotionally completed in The Power That Preserves . Afterwards I really most enjoy when Covenant is relegated to kind of a support role, and everyone treats him like a weird sage or hero which ... he is, at that point, he's earned that. The journey of the latter books ... plot-wise is just as riveting, for my money, as the first trilogy, but their handicap is that the journey - the emotional one I mean - of (ostensibly) the main character is less clear cut. 38. Dr. Thanatos Oh god yes. It's funny, reading your comment brought me back to that first book, to the slip of paper I carried with me on which I recorded the many words unfamiliar to me. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I rarely have more than one of those per book, if at all. For Lord Foul's Bane? I had two whole pages. Gelid. Gelid. Really dude? Gelid? And "laval", as in the oft-described "laval eyes" of Drool Rockworm. To this day I'm pretty sure he coined that one himself, because I've never found it in a dictionary, and have never come across it in another work.
32. The_Duck_Is_Rising Added to my list! 33. hoopmanjh I know what you mean. Donaldson's flaws of style are much more evident to me at 38 than they were at 14, though over time I have come to view them as the necessary mortar for those inevitable thrilling setpieces. I don't think they can be considered as separate elements of his style. 34. Lisamarie Yeah, I also don't think Frodo is quite the right fit for the trope of OMGAWESOME heroes in fantasy literature, but as you say, he tries, which, that alone sets him well apart from Covenant.
29. Walker Covenant is catatonic for a lot of that series, yeah, but when he wakes up, wow, right? And as often observed in the comments section here, he can be a bit of a butt, so I wasn't too mad getting a big ol Covenant break right about then. 30. nizlemia I totally agree, and clearly remember that moment myself, in about 1989, of first reading Lord Foul's Bane and just being ... whaaaaaaaaaaaaat. To this day I haven't read anything else like it. 31. Steve, from the internet You are correct. While there are obvious parallels to Wagner in the Covenant books, Donaldson did write the Gap books with the intent to create a sci-fi Ring cycle.
Oh hell yes.
24. Confutus That is actually a really good point that I have never considered before. The fact that he's a grumbly pain in the neck notwithstanding, you're right: Thomas Covenant is exactly the guy to resist giving in to despair. And not because of some empty, faux-inspirational magic-wand hopefulness, but just because of his dogged insistence on simply continuing to live in the world when all things that made life pleasurable are gone.
22. dlomax That is very kind and generous of you to say. I'm glad you enjoyed reading. And I'd be lying if I said The Last Dark didn't whet my appetite to go back and start from the beginning again ...
17. RDBetz That is, honestly, a not-unreasonable reaction to the book.
16. Biff from Australia I know exactly what you mean, Biff. Some of those scenes are just so -- POW! Right in the kisser. Those scenes are big ones to me too, but my all star list would be: *Lord Mhoram facing down Samadhi Satansfist alone with the krill *When the lords stop the journey to hunker down and help Llaura who had been harmed by Lord Foul, and find themselves trapped. *When they are at the mercy of Kasreyn of the Gyre, and Linden Avery brings Covenant out of his long catatonia and he speaks the Sandgorgon's name. *Foamfollower's RETURN after his dash across Hotash Slay, and he laughs again. Yo, I'm gettin teary eyed. And yeah, there is a scene in this book involving some Haruchai and a Raver that similarly blew me away and is definitely part of my list now.
13. colomon "Well, there's less gangrene, for one..."
10. Biff from Australia Thanks Biff! I did know about Donaldson's childhood exposure to the real misery of lepers in India. I think it's obviously responsible for how the horror of living with leprosy feels so real, so obviously lived in the Covenant books. I wasn't quarrelling with the presence of leprosy in the story, or quarrelling at all really, just pointing out that in his use of leprosy as a symbol, Donaldson has a real heavy foot on the gas pedal, know what I mean?
11. Xena Catolica I had the same reaction - and same sense of betrayal - coming to this new quartet. As a fellow traveler and person who 'got it' when reading that first trilogy, I'd say don't stress yourself overmuch if the new series just wasn't working for you. It's like that all the way down. I will however recommend - if you haven't already - you hunt down the Gap Cycle, as that has a lot of the fiery razzle and dazzle that the first Covenant series did.
8. ROBINM If you've taken Covenant 101 by reading the earlier series, you should do just fine jumping into this book.
6. BSD Precisely that, yes.
4. Lisamarie re: not an awesome hero of awesomeness. Absolutely! One of my pet peeves as a writer and reader is the profligate misuse of the term "antihero", when people mean to indicate a hero who is at least partly villainous. That's a "Byronic hero". Covenant, on the other hand, is closer to a true literary antihero - as in, lacking active, dynamic, heroic qualities. He actively resists participating in the action, isn't particularly altruistic or good (in the beginning at least), and is in general weaker and more passive than almost anyone around him. And while antiheroes have a pretty storied history in 20th century literary fiction, they don't occupy much real estate in fantasy, which I think is part of why, like you, I found it so fascinating when I first read it.
1. Marlin Oh and yeah, re: the Gap Cycle. It's amazing, and I feel like no one I know has even heard of it, let alone read it. I think the reason it never really caught on is because the first book is the weakest of the series by a country mile. I read it twice and both times it felt like more of an outline than a novel. And if you don't hook readers with your first book, well, kiss your series goodbye.
1. Marlin I agree. The first trilogy is a truly landmark achievement. The second is still really entertaining, and a great epic with some tremendous setpieces, but other than being a real page-turner it doesn't do a good job justifying its own existence. The final quartet really, really needed the attention of an editor. Even still though, there has not been a single book of his that didn't burn at least part of itself on my reader's soul--this one included. There' s a scene earlyish in the book, between a raver and some haruchai, that I will take to the grave.
I really really enjoyed these episodes, maybe because they felt more properly of a piece with Aang's emotional character than Korra's. While I still love Legend of Korra, one thing I've struggled with is Korra's seeming lack of mission, the nebulous margins of her character and the murkiness of the stakes, the elaborate shrug of the message that seems to often say "well, grownup life is kinda boring and complicated". A Trade Federation Blockade of Naboo wouldn't seem out of place. But man, these episodes were great. It was one of the first times I really felt something was on the line in Korra.
This was, I think, the first D&D book I ever owned.
15. Kirth Girthsome I've not read that one, though I know one of Brown's great passions was the work of Lewis Carroll. Another was drink, and I think Brown was probably really well acquainted with credulity-straining drunkenness.
2. Russell H Like you, I've been a Brown collector for almost 20 years now. Once hooked, always hooked.
Aside from all Brown's great literary merits, which I think judging from the other selections were probably not things Gygax would have grooved on anyway, the one trait of his that I see reflected in Gygaxian D&D is Brown's lovely sense of humor. And not in the sense of the jokes or the short-short twists - those are just the obvious things you point the tourists toward. There is an unashamed, unadorned playfulness and irony to Brown, and a plainspoken Stephen-King-like simplicity, that I feel is really easy to detect in a lot of the modules Gygax himself wrote.
Oh MAN. I had no idea Brown was on that list!! He's hands down one of my top 5 favorite writers of all time. Shame there's really nothing in print any more.
16. CainS.Latrani I think that's been my principal complaint with the season so far. The storylines that've developed don't really seem to leave room for Korra. It's a plot that ... doesn't really seem to need the avatar at all.
I didn't even know to expect Aubrey Plaza and did a huge spit take when I heard her voice.
Oh man, Code Name Verity. I cried so hard.
31. MysaNal Agreed. While Marvel has had its share of mis-steps (anyone remember that scene Bendis wrote, of Tigra getting roughed up by the Hood?) DC seems to deliberately court them as a PR tactic.
Yeah, I walked out of that thing feeling dirty for having spent my money on it. Its treatment of women and gender is just, the worst.
Also I really need to develop some boilerplate responses to cut and paste into comment threads like these, because eight or nine comments in, when people start off on the whole "But what about the mens???" line of argument, my eyes roll so hard I'm looking at the inside of the back of my skull, and can't see the keyboard to type anything out.
I feel like every time I open my feed reader and look at the comics press writing about what DC is up to now, every single article seems to be about decisions that would indicate the company is going down in flames. I know they're doing okay, sales-wise, I think, but ... how. With stuff like this seeming to go down every single day, how are they even still in business.
5. JohnCBunnell How right you are. I should have kept my mouth shut when all I knew of it was what I thought its reputation was. I'll have to get myself to a library post-haste pick up a copy as soon as the holiday weekend is over.
2. Eugene R. As I mention, he doesn't really treat scholars like Zahi Hawass at all. Hawass's discoveries or works might find voice in Romer's history, but the modern scholars themselves are mostly left nameless.
1. JohnCBunnell Romer doesn't mention Mertz or her books. I would venture a guess - though I confess I have not read them - that I think they fall a little far into the "pop" side of "pop history". Mertz, while an academically trained Egyptologist, largely had a life devoted to fiction writing, not Egyptology, and her books, while readable and erudite, are very heavily ... impressionistic? As in, there is a great deal of novelistic scene setting, no? Or am I misapprehending what I have not read.
I feel like I probably need a little more Wolfe under my belt to truly enjoy this? Y/N?
This is maybe the first book in this review series that has actually made me want to hunt it down and read it myself.
re: the "one act". Yeah, it's still pretty out there. Looking back, it's not so much that it's there to "shock" the reader - it happens very very early in the first book, so you haven't even had time to get comfortable enough in the universe to be shocked by anything - it's that it's there to establish that the main character is terrible.
2. RobinM I know what you mean; my gaming experience has mostly been in groups with a 50/50 gender spread, or close to it. Ewalt's group - or, the only one he describes being part of - is all guys, so I think he made the mistake of seeking out and finding resonant only those experiences similar to his own. Which ... is maybe an irritating gaffe on the part of the memoirist, but is a pretty egregious failing on the part of the journalist.
31. CorwinOfAmber I think as mentioned in one of the other comments, that really falls more into the category of "demo" rather than f2p.
As a gamer I generally find the f2p model to be gross at best and actually evil at worst. On the gross end of the spectrum, you're letting players get out of grindy tasks in exchange for money, in effect creating a system where players PAY YOU TO NOT PLAY YOUR GAME. As previously mentioned, this just means you've successfully created an addictive - but boring - game. As long as these things you grind for are cosmetic or just like, new content, I guess that's fine. But not for me as a gamer. At the other end of the spectrum are games that take payments to make you better than someone else you're competing against. In any tournament in these games, the highest rank is dominated by people who have shelled out lots of real money for the privilege of being there. In any other competitive endeavor, this is called bribery.
"a world where pitiless logic wins" or "a world of individualism taken to the extreme" both sound like actual outer planes.
Oh man +1 for anything Dean Haspiel.
Debating the degree to which form and formula are the same thing, or whether the storytelling cliches reflect authorial intent or authorial laziness, or whether "simple" is the same thing as "dumb" (they ARE synonyms ... ), is kind of immaterial. Pacific Rim is a bad movie because there isn't an authentic emotional moment in the entire movie, period. Cool robots are cool, but the story is a badly told one.
If You Think Fake Geek Girls Are a Thing, The Doubleclicks (and John Scalzi) Would Like to Have a Word With You
Yeah, I've successfully eliminated at least 75 percent of my exposure to this stupid meme by just never going on Reddit or Imgur any more.
2. a-j Wait, what? Who loathes JK Rowling?
Maybe the Asgardians just discovered "unstable molecule" clothing technology before Reed Richards did. Other aliens are shown to have, e.g. the Kymellians in Power Pack.
1. Ragnarredbeard Since both sites are U.S. National Recreation Areas, and are administered by the National Parks Service, I'm going to assume they're both property of the federal government?
18. Krishna Sadasivam They've used several such dodges to include him in cameos, yeah. He's shown up in human form - as a retired hero who used to be "the greatest spaceknight", they're referred to him euphemistically in a bunch of different ways, and they've totally had people talk about him -- just, not call him "Rom" when they did. Because all the property was was a toy when it came to Marvel, Bill Mantlo invented pretty much everything about the character, besides his name and his physical appearance. And Marvel has continued to use that stuff - the Dire Wraiths, the Spaceknights, they all crop up from time to time. But a Rom who looks like Rom never has.
15. wizard clip Although, re: not killing. There was that one time where Galactus showed up to Galador with dinner time eyes, and Rom was all, "Hey, Galactus, I know you like heralds and all. Why don't I show you around and drive you to your next meal? If you skip Galador, that is." And Galactus was like, "Sure, where are we going." And Rom was like "Um, have you by any chance heard of the Dire Wraith homeworld? Let's check it out."
15. wizard clip You are absolutely correct to point out that Rom's Neutralizer did not kill the wraiths. But their banishment did look to ... pretty much everyone like he was killing them, which is I think an important part of his character. Unlike, say, Batman, Rom is actually a SOLDIER who has been fighting a war, more or less alone, for two hundred years. So him showing up and looking for all the world like he's just killing people, because he's so weary from doing this for so long he kinda can't be bothered to explain to anyone, is kind of cornerstone of what makes Rom Rom.
Also, wow, in looking for that Mantlo benefit link, I came across this incredible (fake) Rom/Star Trek crossover cover: http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2012/12/wish-this-was-real-mars-attacks-rom-and-star-trek/
11. Bruce-Arthurs But also yeah, I would kill to see a Project Rooftop re-design regardless. Every once in a while you'll see some awesome redesign art when some good samaritan throws a benefit for Bill Mantlo: http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2010/12/bid-on-new-rom-artwork-to-benefit-bill-mantlo/
11. Bruce-Arthurs I mean, yes and no? Yeah, he's not ... elaborately designed, but I always took that as a kind of awesome minimalism, rather than poor art. There's something about Rom that I always thought was very distinctive. He's SUPPOSED to be kind of unhuman and a little uncool looking. He gave up his humanity to fill this role, and that emotional tension is kind of undercut if you make him look, I don't know, capital C cool. The boxy profile, the expressionless face with just two glowing eyes, &c. The fact that he doesn't even have fingers - just shiny metal mittens - always blew my mind.
5. KF Yeah, a number of CREATORS have totally said, "I would love to bring back Rom." I feel like Abnett and Lanning in particular have mentioned this a couple times. But It's Marvel legal - or Hasbro, the current rights holder iirc - that's stopping them.
4. chaosprime Ha! I did read Skrull Kill Krew ... seven or eight years ago I think. I remember it being ... not my favorite Morrison, but I liked it well enough. To tell you the truth, what ELSE are you gonna say to someone in that situation?
2. Chrysostom Wait, really? I'm gonna have to track that down. 3. LurkerWithout WORD. But also, I feel like most Kids These Days have never even heard of Rom. Most of the comics reading audience's interest and attention begins in the 1990s, and, for better or worse, today's comics are children of the 1990s, which is exactly when Rom bowed out of the Marvel Universe. Which is cool, since we didn't have to live with what a 90s Rom would have looked like (leather bolero jacket, red glowing mohawk, spiky ankle bracelets, pouches) but also means he's kind of forgotten these days.
Yeah, I think pegging Derleth's as an essentially editorial legacy is smart. Say what you want about his prose style (and lots of people talk smack about Lovecraft's prose too) but there was a real long time where he carried that torch all by himself.
17. mordicai I started to write up a minya section, but then realized I didn't want to go there.
I can't think of another comic I've been so excitedly waiting for.
11. cjhuitt Two words: Chernobyl Gyaos 13. mordicai Oh man, it never really occurred to me, but yeah! He's totally a hook horror!
5. BMcGovern Same here, only I was grooving on the song they made up about Jet Jaguar. 10. Igorlex Wait, what are the angels?
4. AlanBrown I feel like talking about Gamera, the weirdest, creepiest thing about him isn't even about him really, it's about how there's always that one kid with him in short pants, so I kind of wanted to elide the subject altogether. Same reason I didn't include Minya, though he's more horrifying than anything on this list. 6. RobMRobM I kind of wanted to skip the bigger name kaiju, because the really really weird monsters are the ones that flipped my switches as a kid. Godzilla's there because ... you kind of can't talk kaiju without him.
Oh man these are beautiful.
1. ChristopherLBennett Yeah, Daiei's creature designs are really weirdly stylized! As a child they always seemed much odder and weirder to me. 2. TimCallahan Me too. My biggest complaint about the movie is I wanted some of the kaiju to have a little more screen time. They all got dispatched pretty quickly.
I really do love the feedback loop of science > science fiction > science