Color of Life: In by Will McPhail

I think I experienced a bit of synesthesia while reading In by Will McPhail.

The book is largely done in sketch-like black and white, the characters little more than outlines on a white background, except for moments when Nick, the main character, experiences real human connection. As soon as he makes that connection, the pages burst into fully painted, dynamic scenes, and I oftentimes felt like I could hear the sounds of crashing waves or the swell of some imaginary film score in my head. It made the whole thing quite extraordinary.

Read more

Not Much There: Fangs by Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson is best known for her Sarah’s Scribbles web comics, where a big-eyed, spiky-haired version of herself deals with introversion, anxiety, and the vagaries of modern life in a humorous, relatable way. Those strips are the exact sort of thing that people love to share on social media.

When I heard about her new book, Fangs, I was intrigued because it sounded so different from her oftentimes silly work in Sarah’s Scribbles.

Read more

Turtles and Cats in the City at Night: The Intergalactic Interloper by Delas Heras

A turtle and cat make friends.

When I read about Delas Heras’ debut, The Intergalactic Interloper, it sounded like a perfect change of pace from the world outside.

It’s a short book, humorous if not laugh-out-loud funny, and charming in a gentle, nostalgic way.

The action begins in the distant past of New York City 1995, a place and time that feels comforting purely because it is a quarter of a century and thousands of miles away from where I am right now.

Read more

Relatable Urchins: Nancy by Olivia Jaimes

Sluggo is Lit

I’ve never read any of the classic Nancy comics, but her look is iconic. I feel like I could identify a Nancy comic from across the room by the shape of Nancy’s head alone. The fact that those comics were ubiquitous enough to become iconic but passé enough that I’d never read any of them is a fascinating contradiction.

Read more

More Than Wordsmiths: Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Foundryside cover detail

Golems from Jewish folklore have always fascinated me, with their heads full of instructions written on a life-giving scroll. A golem is both the creation myth in miniature and a way to codify magic, a sort of early computer programming where the processors are clay giants. It’s strangely comforting to imagine that human beings could control the world in such a fashion, while also terrifying to imagine the many ways it could go wrong.

Read more

The Perfect Do-Over: Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

In Reincarnation Blues, Milo is the ultimate slacker. He’s lived thousands of lives, but he still hasn’t reached perfection. Instead, he just wants to spend his time in the afterlife with his girlfriend, Susie, who also happens to be one of the incarnations of death. They’ve been together for more than eight thousand years, give or take, and Milo’s primary goal in the afterlife is avoiding transcending to the oversoul so that he can spend eternity watching TV on a couch with Susie.

Read more

A Detailed Mirage: Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett and Ken Mitchroney

Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett and Ken Mitchroney Published: June 13, 2017 Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc. Genre(s): Adventure, War, Science Fiction Format: Audiobook Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins I think what drew me to Fata Morgana was the promise of an old-fashioned adventure with a bit of romance: a WW2 bomber plane flies …

Read moreA Detailed Mirage: Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett and Ken Mitchroney

10 PRINT “Heart of Code: The Impossible Fortress”

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak Published: February 7th, 2017 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Genre(s): Young Adult, Fiction, Coming-of-age Format: Audiobook Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins The Impossible Fortress hits the exact right notes of eighties nostalgia without turning into a catalog of bygone pop culture. It definitely opened a flood of memories …

Read more10 PRINT “Heart of Code: The Impossible Fortress”

The Girl Who Wasn’t: LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

LIFEL1K3 is the rare book that I mostly enjoyed until the end soured me on the whole thing. It’s a mash-up of a lot of genres and tropes, which gives it a certain amount of madcap charm, but it squanders that good will with some draggy pacing, an overload of teenage angst, and a final twist that feels like a gotcha moment designed only for shock value. It’s also overstuffed with plot and world-building, so it’s almost impossible to summarize succinctly.

Read more

Modernized Space Girl: Barbarella, Volume 1

First, some caveats about this review of the new Barbarella comic written by Mike Carey: I’ve never seen the Jane Fonda movie, so I watched the trailer to get a feel for it because it felt like a necessary entry point.

I also read the first volume of the classic comics by Jean-Claude Forest so that I’d have a baseline to compare against the rebooted series. From a writing standpoint, I’d say that the two versions of Barbarella are on close to equal footing, but the art in the modern version just does not do the character justice.

Read more

The Little Death of Reality: Alt-Life

Alt-Life is the story of what happens when two horny French people volunteer as beta testers for an all-encompassing VR experience that lets them escape from the polluted, dying Earth. Once you’re inside the VR devices, which look like giant red eggs full of undulating cilia, the system integrates with your body and you live out the rest of your life on the inside.

Read more