I have commenced my Summer reading, nearly a full month in advance of Summer. I say this because I have been on a trip, with some time to myself, and I have chosen to read fantastical works of fiction. So it feels like Summer reading. So it is. QED. Or the equivalent, which would be something like QES, or something. Not that you care.
So - book reviews, then: One gothic (?) horror novel and one epic comic book space drama. First, Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Memorial Day weekend, I took off from work Friday, and that gave us four days to travel. While I had initially thought that my dry and academic work from 1927, A Day in Old Rome, would suffice for travel reading, it did not. Alas. It's not a bad book, but it's not to be taken in travel-size chunklets, either. So I picked up HSB during a late night provisions run. I loved it. I haven't been moved by a horror novel in quite some time, but this moved me on more than one occasion. Joe Hill is Stephen King's kid with a (deliberately evocative and pedigreed) name change so you won't buy his books because he's Stephen King's kid. When you do buy Joe's books, you'll be buying them because they are compelling and creepy. Joe has the grasp of the banal that his dad has, that ability to set an incredibly scary sequence in a totally familiar - and even somewhat boring - environment, using solidly commonplace items in completely nefarious ways. HSB is about a rock star who buys a ghost at an online auction, presumably inspired by this, and what happens after that. The music is part of the book, with a Nirvana song title and subsections of the book titled after songs as well, with numerous musicalities dropped into the rest of the writing. Anyway, if you like books that keep you the fuck awake, and dig horror, read Heart-Shaped Box.
Back in 2006, Marvel Comics started a huge epic space opera called Annihilation. Annihilation dealt with a bid by a conqueror named Annihilus, who teamed up with Thanos and enslaved Galactus, unleashing something called the Annihilation Wave which destroyed planetary systems and consumed, in totality, all of their organic matter. With me so far? Annihilus, who is from the Marvel Universes' negative zone, was only defeated by a last-ditch teaming of Ronan, the Kree Accuser, the hero formerly known as Star-lord, Nova, Drax, and Moondragon. After this was all over, however, sections of the universe, most notably the Kree Galatic Empire, were weakened, and thus susceptible to the newest attack, this from a non-organic enemy known as the Phalanx, who enslaved and killed with the best of them, and turned out to be secretly led by Ultron, who was trying to bond with the body of the newly resurrected Adam Warlock, and then have him cloned, creating a perfect master race of organically engineered beings with hardware brains. This was all in the second big series, which I finished reading on the deck (one of them) of Matt & Cayce's house, and which was called Annihilation: Conquest. The series, not the deck. There were deaths and sacrifices, something like eight or nine limited series of four and six issues each, and I've been on the edge of my seat for going on a year and a half. Again, not that any of you was geeky enough to follow any of that, but I love that shit. When you're reading your independent comics and thinking you're really getting into comics now because this is some deep shit, this is why fanboys give you that look that says, "Boy - I'm three generations deep in Comicdom. Three generations."