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League of Extraordinary Books



  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    Kim by Rudyard Kipling (1901)
    Well that was really good. On the one hand you have a great boys adventure story featuring one of those lovable super-streeturchin characters like the Artful Dodger or Selena Kyle. On the other hand though you have quite a touching story about the relationship between Kim, the lover of the world with all its excitement and stimulations, and a buddist lama who literally could not be more different.
    Its an odd mix of different things, i really like how it handles religion and magic. Its just a grand old adventure, although as i said with this other more mature story of the lama offsetting the action parts. It also has great side characters aswell.
    I think some might wish it was more focused on the action side but i liked the mix. Also the ending was a little bit unsatisfying, overall really liked it. [4/5]

    The Lizard by John Cutcliffe Hyne (1898)
    The name kind of gives it away. This is a short horror story, its not great but the actual central thing is a lot more interesting and strange than you might expect. Which was a good thing. [3/5]

    Film Items:
    Metropolis (1927)
    An absolute historical classic. A triumph of special effects and DEAR GOD is it boring! It also makes no sense, the evil plan in it does not seem like it was ever a good idea, unless of course the evil robot went nuts and ignored the original plan but this unclear.
    Anyway, this is still worth watching just to see the spectacular advance in the effects at such an early time but be prepared to grit your teeth to get through it. [2/5]

    The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari (1920)
    This is a very strange film. It uses a very unique aesthetic which really makes this stand out and more importantly keeps it from growing stale like other films. Highly recommended, although don't expect the story to entirely make sense :) . [4/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (1794)
    If anyone i know says they hate this book i certainly wouldn't reprove them. This is a book which really needs the reader to embrace it and accept it for what it is.
    The entire first quarter of this story is pretty much nothing but staring at scenery and weeping. I tried to embrace it and read it at its own languid pace but even so my eyes did occasionally glaze over. However even near the start there are those odd mysteries which keep it interesting.
    Later theres a lot of superstitious scares and fainting too, which isn't really that surprising given that the heroine never seems to go to sleep until about 4am and often not until the sun comes up, seriously she's practically a vampire! :lol
    Whatever the word Gothic means to you this story has it in spades. It is still quite well written and i flew through the last 150 pages or so as it got really compelling.
    One thing i especially liked is that it never tried to convince the READER that an event was supernatural, that was always only the flawed view of the characters. Sometimes the reader is even given more information than the characters have, so we can detach ourselves a little from their situation.
    This is quite a long book so if it has things you like(or dislike) it will have a lot of them.
    (i'll just play it cool about using reprove in a sentence, go me! :) ). [4/5]

    Doc Savage, Man of Bronze by Lester Dent (1933)
    The first Doc Savage story. This starts out much better than your average pulp, i'd describe it more as a pulp-noir. Doc Savage is a pretty interesting character with some unique attributes. There's also some very interesting elements such as someone inventing a laser-pointer which i'm pretty sure they didn't have in 1930.
    However as the story progresses it becomes more pulp like and the numerous incidents which pile on top of each start to bore rather than excite.
    Overall disappointing after the great opening and i fear that with the novelty of the character wearing off the many subsequent stories might be even more of a let down, but we shall see. [3/5]

    first 10 issues of The Crimson Avenger comic (1938)
    A knockoff of the Green Hornet and just about a precursor to batman by a few months. These stories unfortunately are kind of awful. They are more complicated than you might expect which seemed like a good thing at first. However the writers seem hard pressed to condense their tales into comic format and the stories are always quite confused as a result. [2/5]

    Film Item:
    First Men in the Moon (1964)
    So this is both an adaptation and a sequel of the H.G.Wells novel. Its really quite good with some special effects by Ray Harryhausen. They add a woman to the mix for the romance angle like they did with pretty much every 60's victorian adaptation and it also has some comedy. [3/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    Propeller Island by Jules Verne (1895)
    aka The Floating Island, The Self-Propelled Island or Pearl of the Pacific.
    Does it still count as Filler if theres nothing else to it?
    It seems the central conceit of this is not enough to build a story around so you have various other elements strung together to pass the time. There's a bit of romance, social politics, international politics, some piracy, some comedy (most of which at least manages to survive the translator) and of course, since this is verne some facts. Which in this case is a tour of the pacific islands.
    Have you ever wanted to know the import/exports, population, geology, flora/fauna and political history of Tahiti circa 1890? Well then this is the book for you!
    OK, it isn't as bad as it sounds, its usually at least mildly interesting. I've had several worse Verne reading experiences.
    I did like the ending and most of the incidents along the way held my interest, except for one which was way too random and ridiculous.
    Lions and tigers and alligators, Oh My! [3/5]

    Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper (1965)
    aka the Dark is Rising #1.
    A family with three children go to cornwall on holiday along with their mysterious uncle Merry.
    Eh? i'm not sure i'd have liked reading this as a kid, its kind of creepy, then again maybe kid-me wouldn't have felt it as much.
    It's a childrens book so i wasn't actually expected anything really bad to happen, nevertheless the story has a Mundane sense of evil to it which was kind of disturbing. Its not ghosts or monsters but people who are the danger, but which people, what do they want and how far are they willing to go to get it? It felt at times like a kids version of 'the Wicker Man' :lol .
    Its quite a fast paced book and very easy to picture the goings on with all the characters standing out quite vividly. [4/5]

    JeffHawke_h2231_en.jpg{random and unrelated Jeff Hawke panel}
    151 panels of Jeff Hawke comicstrip (1960)
    aka the Wondrous Lamp

    Well that was ridiculous sci-fi fun. From the deserts of arabia to modern day we follow a bizarre tale leading to a potential alien invasion of earth. There's no preparing for this crazy and often funny comic. Originally published as a daily comicstrip so the format can be a little hard to digest.
    All the characters in this are quite likable even the sortof badguys. Although i'm still a bit unclear on what exactly Hawke's skills or qualifications are. [4/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    Phra the Phoenician by Edwin Lester Arnold (1890)
    Our ancient hero Phra, has a severe case of Rip van Winkle Syndrome and sleep-hops his way through history, while occasionally being stalked by one of his dead wives.
    This was very surprisingly good but only if you like purple prose. If your a fan of the 'full stop' for example you might be sorry to see him so infrequently, as most sentences in this seem to be about half a page long :) .
    As with Arnold's protagonist from 'Gulliver of Mars', our hero this time is kind of an idiot, not to mention a bit of an ass (think 'Bruce Campbell' in the 'Evil Dead' films :P). However while that added to the frustration of reading Gulliver it adds to the comedy of this.
    And there's quite a bit of comedy to be had, although its hard to say how much was intended. If you can get past the florid style this is a great romance/adventure romp through the ages.
    A final warning however, as with all of this authors work it will leave you with many an unanswered question. [4/5]

    My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (1948)
    Delightful children's book. Just scary enough to be exciting for younger readers and the illustrations are really beautiful. [4/5]

    A Thousand Deaths by Jack London (1899)
    Short mad scientist story. Its pretty good although it has a bit too much techno-babble. It's also too quick to allow the horror of the situation to really settle in. [3/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Odyssey by Homer (800 BC)
    translated by Alexander Pope
    Perhaps i'm being a little hard on this one. I'm kind of grading on a curve, because of the many epic poems i've read over the last few years this was the least engaging.
    Also it might be that the Alexander Pope translation isn't the best.
    Its not to say this didn't have its moments, there were quite a few aspects i liked it just seemed a lot of effort for scant returns.
    The aspects i liked the most were the conversations, especially when people were insulting each other, and the characterization of Odysseus.
    Odysseus is a real anti-hero, a jaded old warrior who doesn't trust the gods as far as he can throw them, rash, vengeful, a horndog, an almost pathological liar, a vicious fighter with no code of honor, and a fairly terrible husband who misses his stuff far more than his wife, which he tells Penelope to her face!
    Overall i found it a difficult read and constantly found my mind wandering from the page. [2/5]

    20 issues of The Black Cat comic (1941)
    Linda Turner, Jiu Jitsu expert, pilot and glamorous but bored film star, don's a costume to fight nazi spies and other threats to america. These are some quite fun if repetitive comics. Linda is a remarkably strong female character and often has to rescue her male love interest when he invariably gets himself into trouble. [3/5]
    another nice grab from

    Sexton Blake, the Roumanian Envoy (1921)
    aka sexton blake library S1 #156.
    A fairly long short story featuring one of Blake's famous opponents Zenith the Albino. I thought i'd heard Zenith has super-strength but there's no evidence of that in this tale, perhaps he acquires it in a future story.
    This is a quite good detective/espionage tale. I especially liked the first few chapters which didn't have much of Blake in them. The main flaw however is the numerous opportunities the bad-guys have of killing Blake or his companions and the writer has to figure out excuses for delaying their deaths so that they can inevitably escape. [3/5]

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  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Vorrh by Brian Catling (2012)
    This is going to be a tough review. For a start the book doesn't really have a plot, so much as locations and characters. Then stuff just happens, there doesn't seem to be a clear endgame which might leave some feeling annoyed. Frankly when i got to the end i was just glad it was over, as it was an exhausting read, but a very memorable one!
    There are about 8 different major characters, its set around 1920 i think although it goes back and forth.
    Most of the action takes place in africa around the strange forest known as The Vorrh, which has a disturbing effect on anyone who spends too much time in it, and the nearby city of Essenwald, a german colony.
    Prepare for magic and crazyness, some steampunk stuff and a lot of difficult writing to decipher. Its a hard read in both its diction and structure.
    The story switches between characters about every 5 pages which was REALLY hard for me to deal with, as each character is quite different and i had to constantly slam on the mental breaks and change gear.
    Its easier to say who this isn't for than who will like it.
    This isn't for those who like a simple read. This isn't for those who need closure. And this is definitely not for anyone with a weak stomach. [4/5]

    The Spirits Mountain by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1864)
    A short gothic romance tale. Its characterization is quite subtle which i liked. Good if a little moralistic in the end. [4/5]

    Film Item:
    The Third Man (1949)
    I don't get it, i have no idea what people see in this. Its supposed to be this classic espionage noir but i found it quite boring. [2/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1921)
    Classic dystopian fiction. I can see parts of so many different dystopian books and films in this, however it still manages to stand out of the crowd.
    The book this reminds me most of is actually War of the Worlds, as like that book the story is done from a street level perspective. Our protagonist isn't at the centre of events and so we only get glimpses of the full picture.
    Most police-state dystopias have some sort of love story in them to serve as a symbol of rebellion however this is more direct. Its not so much the individual verses the system, so much as the individuals penis verses the system :lol, as that seems to be the part making all the decisions.
    I'm quite surprised this even got published in 1920 given how highly charged the sex scenes are, i'm not saying they're graphic but the impression they leave is quite something :) .
    I'm very close to giving this 5 stars but i do think its losing a little something in translation, still really good though and a very unique angle for this type of fiction. [4/5]

    12 issues of Steel Commando comic (1970)
    The british armies new voice controlled robot has a flaw and will only respond to lowly private Ernie. The reluctant Ernie therefore has to act as handler for the bot and put himself in a lot more danger than he wants. These are really good fun stories. I think i'd have really liked them as a kid. [4/5]

    Radio Drama:
    Journey into Space, Operation Luna by Charles Chilton (1953)
    The audio version available is from a 1958 recording although the original is from '53. This version is a little cut down and you can tell towards the 3/4 mark where the edits are.
    Still that doesn't effect the story much, this is far more advanced sci-fi than i was expecting from the 50's. Really solid intellectual sci-fi, gets a little bit expositional at the end but really enjoyable overall. Forget your audio books i'll definitely be checking out more old time radio in future. [4/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel (1910)
    The first third or so of this book is a long series of fantastic theatrical, pseudo-scientific and artistic events performed for an african king. The extraordinary tableau's march past in excruciatingly specific detail in the literary equivalent of a dull monotone.
    It was one of the dullest and most painful reading experiences i have had in quite some time.
    The rest of the work is a flashback which explains each of the previous scenes you didn't care about. The convoluted sequence of events with numerous tangents, is at least mildly engaging in places.
    Overall some of the details are at least interesting if not the delivery but 2 stars still feels like i'm being generous. [2/5]

    Film Items:
    Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S. (1975)
    Buxom blonde nazi doctor Ilsa uses men for sex and women for experimentation in a german workcamp. I was expecting this to be quite disturbing however its so over the top that it remains quite watchable. It reminds me VERY strongly of the Stars series Spartacus in both its story and tone. [4/5]

    Wild in the Streets (1968)
    The american youth rise to power led by pop star Max Frost. A classic of 60's crazyness. Its darker and more pointed than you might expect. By the end it almost feels like an episode of the Outer Limits or Tales of the Unexpected. [4/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (1946)
    aka Gormenghast #1.
    A Gothic/Dickensian novel, who knew that was a thing :) .As i say its characters have a distinctive dickensian flavour there isn't a single normal person in the bunch. Our main protagonist is Steerpike who i think is a genuine sociopath.
    The descriptions are odd and beautiful in a dreary and grotesque way. As we follow the inhabitants of a massive and ancient castle going about their strange and mad lives.
    Apart from dickens one other thing this reminded me of strongly due to the ancient traditions (bureaucracy) and unchanging nature of the place, was The Castle by kafka. If you ever read The Castle and wanted an ending for it you could read Gormenghast and assume the protagonist made it inside finally and is now calling himself Steerpike ;).
    The shear dreariness of the novel although cheered up here and there by the absurdity of its characters can nevertheless make it a chore to read at times but not too often.
    By the end despite there being not a single likable character, i kind of liked them all or at least was able to sympathize with their views which is quite a remarkable feat for a writer to accomplish.
    By the 3/4 mark i was thinking it will be years before i bother with the sequels but by the end i was thinking it will be a lot sooner.[4/5]

    Film Items:
    Godzilla gets a nod in the League comics so i was going to mention the original film. However since i've seen them all i thought, why not give the full list.
    Each item is rated directly against the others so the scores might be higher or lower than i would give them if simply rating them against every film i've ever seen. So from best to worst:
    D = Dubbed in english.
    S = Subtitled in english.
    [9/10] Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II (1993) {D}
    [9/10] Godzilla 2000 (1999) {S}
    [8/10] Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) {S}
    [8/10] Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971) {D}
    [8/10] Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995) {S}
    [8/10] Godzilla Raids Again (1955) {S}
    [8/10] Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) {D}
    [7/10] Godzilla Tokyo SOS (2003) {S}
    [7/10] Return of Godzilla (1984) {S}
    [7/10] Mothra vs Godzilla (1964) {D}
    [7/10] Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974) {S}
    [7/10] Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991) {S}
    [6/10] Son of Godzilla (1967) {J}
    [6/10] Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000) {D}
    [6/10] Godzilla vs Gigan (1972) {S}
    [5/10] Godzilla (1954) {S}
    [5/10] Godzilla Final Wars (2004) {S}
    [5/10] Godzilla vs Biollante (1989) {D}
    [5/10] Godzilla vs Megalon (1973) {S}
    [4/10] Godzilla vs the Sea Monster (1966) {D}
    [4/10] Godzilla (2014)
    [4/10] Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) {S}
    [4/10] GMK: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) {S}
    [4/10] Godzilla vs Mothra (1992) {S}
    [3/10] King Kong vs Godzilla (1962) {S}
    [3/10] Destroy All Monsters (1968) {S}
    [3/10] Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla (1994) {D}
    [2/10] Monster Zero (1965) {D}
    [1/10] Godzilla's Revenge (1969) {S}

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    Mademoiselle de Maupin by Théophile Gautier (1835)
    My second Gautier book and a second triumph. Gautier has a very verbose style and never uses one metaphor when 8 will do, however his writing is so lyrical and poetic that it rarely seems too long.
    They say people today have a warped view of the opposite sex due to film, porn, celebrity magazines etc. but evidently this is not so modern a problem, as our male 19th century hero is the same and all he had to work with was poetry and oil paintings, he despairs of ever finding a woman who meets his fantastic ideal. Our heroine on the other hand is determined to truly understand men before giving herself to one.
    This is a romance i guess, although one of those very realistic ones something along the lines of '500 Days of Summer' . It has really interesting things to say about sexuality aswell, which again makes it seem quite modern.
    Overall this is a beautifully written, funny, interesting and remarkably... human story (for want of a better description :) ).
    Note: Some prior knowledge of Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' might be beneficial. [4/5]

    The Lotos Eaters by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1832)
    A poetry 'what if' tale in which odysseuses crew from The Odyssey decide to give up early and just get stoned for the rest of their lives. Of course in their case it would have been a vast improvement on their actual fate.
    Pretty good, did make me want to take up drugs though, so not for the weak willed :) . [3/5]

    Billy Bunter multi-part story, The Magnet issues #1020-1026 (1927)
    Bunter, the Stowaway! by Frank Richards [4/5]
    In Southern Seas! by Frank Richards [4/5]
    The Whip Hand! by Frank Richards [4/5]
    The Treasure Island! by Frank Richards [4/5]
    The Rival Treasure Seekers! by Frank Richards [4/5]
    Black Peter's Treasure! by Frank Richards [4/5]
    The Greyfriars Castaways by Frank Richards [3/5]
    A classmate at Greyfriars can't afford the school fees but luckily has inherited a treasure map. His schoolmates use the summer holidays to help him locate it in the southern seas.
    You'll never see this story printed in book form. Incredibly racist despite one of our hero's being indian. Every native is a probable cannibal and there's not an infrequent use of the n-word. It's also not unlike 'Zulu' or 'Black Hawk Down' at times.
    At least some of the name calling can be excused, as it is uttered by Billy Bunter, an 'Eric Cartman' analogue and reknowned for his stupidity and ignorance.
    Still this is a really good high seas adventure, the main badguy coming across like a 'down on his luck' Bond villian. Its a little bit too long towards the end but overall really enjoyable with many nice twists and turns.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Enchanted Castle by E.Nesbit (1907)
    This isn't as fairytale-like as the title might suggest. A very grounded story although still one with lots of magical happenings. Some of the smaller adventures seem a little similar to 'Five Children and It' which i've read previously but these are got through relatively quickly.
    Its a very random/organic story, which on the one hand means your never sure what will happen next but can also make it feel a little pointless at times as you can't see the main aim of the tale.
    It can get quite dark for a kids book in places, about on par with some of the scarier 'Doctor Who' episodes. Overall i like the mix of magic and reality and the strange turns the story takes. The eldest child protagonist also has some great personality traits. Odd but well written book.
    I wonder if they stole from this for the 'Night at the Museum' films. [3/5]

    Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas (1954)
    A radio-play that's part beatnik poem. It describes a day in the life of a small village starting with their dreams as they sleep and following them until they sleep again.
    The beatnik style can take a little getting used to, and i have a dislike of the surreal so the opening dream-sequences were a little jarring. Overall though its pretty funny and a bit moving in places. [3/5]

    Jane, Heiress by Mistake by Norman Pett (1948)
    Comicstrip storyline. A rich old pervert dies and leaves his money to Jane but his relatives arn't going to let her have it without a fight. Inconsistent but fun. [3/5]

    Jane, Gun Girl by Michael Hubbard (1955)
    Comicstrip storyline. Jane helps the police by infiltrating a gang but starts to fall for its leader. More drama than the comedy i'd expect from Jane. [2/5]

    Jane's Journal, Third Time Lucky by Norman Pett (1946)
    Uncensored sketchbook and mix of comic, prose and poetry. Also some nude photos of the model for Jane. The poetry's fine but the prose seems to be laughing at Jane rather than with her which spoils the fun quite a bit. [2/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    True History by Lucian of Samosata (150 AD)
    Absurd travelogue in the vain of the Odyssey, voyages of sindbad, or the later reports of Mandeville and Raleigh but with the honesty to admit it's all nonsense. Some familiarity with the Odyssey might be of benefit, theres clearly some satire going on but a lot of it is hard to be sure of after so many centuries.
    Still this is a pretty fun short read, things like this can be a bit too random and surreal for my taste but this moved along quick enough from incident to incident to keep my interest.
    The illustrations by aubrey beardsley and others in the version i read, added a certain weird charm of their own to the proceedings. [3/5]

    Dick Donovan, the Great Cats-Eye by J.E.Preston Muddock (1892)
    Short detective tale. Pretty good international story, little lacking on the detecting minutiae. [3/5]

    Film Items:
    The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
    Its ok but only memorable for its unique monster design. [3/5]

    The Blob (1958)
    Seemed shorter than i remember and doesn't stand the test of time as much as i'd hoped. [3/5]

    Them! (1954)
    There's really nothing spectacular about this but somehow it doesn't matter. A very efficient procedural monster movie. You'll see many elements of this in later films and of course the entire plot was pretty much stolen for the 'Alien' sequel. Watch them (pun) back to back and tell me i'm wrong! [4/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    McTeague by Frank Norris (1899)
    I went into this blind but right from the start i had a prescience of evil, i could practically smell "The Dram Shop by Emile Zola", which is not the sort of thing one wants reminders of, as that was GRIM! (but excellent) And i was not wrong, the two stories do share some common ground, what i was mistaken about however was thinking that its similarities would be a problem, were as it turned out it was quite the reverse.
    The writing isn't bad, its nicely descriptive if a little overly detailed at times, but everything is very easy to picture and all the characters are well... Characters.
    It took me some time to figure out why it was such work to get through and i finally pinned down the problem. While you occasionally hear the protagonists thoughts you still never feel like your in their head. The author constantly keeps them at arms length which makes it very hard to empathize or care about their struggles.
    This actually seems to get progressively worse throughout the novel. The longer it goes on the further i felt removed from the characters.
    I actually had to resort to LibriVox to help me through some of it as it became such a chore to read.
    Things pick up somewhat towards the end when the author completely gives up on the story he was writing and decides to change it into a western, 'Seraphrim Falls' to be precise, with some of 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre' thrown in, and just a dash of Spider-Man (one of the characters unaccountably develops spidey-sense :P ). [2/5]

    The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron (1954)
    aka Mushroom Planet #1
    A really nice children's space adventure. The actual space part might seem a little short but overall delightful story with enough mystery to keep it compelling. Reminded me a little of Mary Poppins.
    With so many magic based children's stories about its nice to see one with a more sci-fi bent. A great tale for any budding astronomers or astronauts and possibly any biologists as well, as there is a lot about mushrooms too :) . [3/5]

    Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday #247 (1889)
    Comic entertainment magazine. Funny drawings, jokes, prose, poetry. Entertainment reviews and recommendations, celebrity sketches, 'believe it or not' type stuff, funny crime stories, funny bits of history etc. etc.
    A very assorted mix, some of the humour certainly doesn't land after a hundred years but quite interesting. [3/5]

    Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday #586 (1895)
    Same as above but i seemed to get more of the jokes. [4/5]

    Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday #14 (1923)
    This 20's revival is very similar to the original, although with longer prose pieces. Still pretty good. [3/5]

    Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday #1 (1948)
    The 40's revival saw it turned into a standard comic a-la-The Dandy or Beano. Its pretty wretched. [1/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Goldmakers Village by Heinrich Zschokke (1817)
    A moral tale of a Swiss soldier who returns from war to find his village sunk in poverty. Written 200 years ago, see if any of this sounds familiar.
    A small number of people have most of the money and assets. These same people also control most of the government. The state finances are a mess due to incompetence and corruption. The education system is underfunded. Credit is hard to come by and people are heavily in debt due to short-term loans with exorbitant interest rates.
    This tale is somewhat too religious for my taste, its also quite twee and utopian by the end, or possibly dystopian, as they come up with laws about what clothes people can wear etc. Its also a little bit too specific at times as many utopian novels can be, as the author's show you their perfect plan of how the world could be fixed and explain it in detail.
    I also thought it had an over objection to alcohol until i realized the author didn't even consider drinking at home to actually be drinking, his objections being purely against pubs.
    Quite interesting and generally fun read, almost sadly relevant today, at least in the broad strokes. [3/5]

    The House on Curwen Street by August Derleth (1944)
    aka Trail of Cthulhu #1
    The first short story in Derleth's trail of cthulhu sequence. The difference between derleth and lovecraft has never been this noticable. Much like the difference between the 'Alien' and 'Aliens' films. Alien was a horror/suspense movie, Aliens an action/horror movie. Those are very different creatures.
    About half this tale is also pure fanfiction, an attempt to take all of lovecrafts writings and stitch them into a cohesive whole regardless of their reluctance. This is ground-zero for the whole Cthulhu Mythos. [3/5]

    Screen Items:
    The Phantom Empire (1953)
    Twelve part serial. Cowboy singer Gene Autry plays a singing cowboy called Gene Autry (he really had to stretch himself ;) ), who owns a dude ranch from which he broadcasts a live radio show each day.
    However evil men want to close down the ranch to mine the area for radium, and what of the mysterious beings or spirits believed to inhabit the surrounding valley. Featuring cowboys, comedy side-kicks, murder, car chases, a kids club, singing, robots, deathrays, literal cliff-hangars and more.
    Something for everyone, which unfortunately means that theres bound to be parts of it you dislike. The good and bad mostly average out. [3/5]

    The Invisible Man (1958)
    So the first season of this show starts off a little rough, goes on a nice streak of episodes before fading towards the end. The last few episodes are quite strange as the plots are darker, while the tone is lighter.
    Each episode is only half-an-hour which doesn't give any real time for character development although the crime-of-the-week storylines are still good on their own.
    Peter Brady's (the invisible man) entire character consists of being a scientist who's suspiciously good at punching. The fact that they use several actors for the part also doesn't help, although his sister and niece try their best to make up for the main characters lack of personality.
    After a few episodes the public becomes aware of his existence which makes it easier for the writers as many plots now involve people actively seeking out Brady for his help or to use him for their own ends.
    The show is sometimes called 'H.G.Wells Invisible Man' an even more inappropriate title than the film 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' :lol. [3/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1926)
    The book 'Prisoner of Zenda' has inspired many other works and adaptations including the film 'Dave' with Kevin Kline. Its hard to know where this version sits. I could call it a reimagining, or a parody or a blatant ripoff.
    Whatever you call it, all i care about is whether its any good and for a while there it was.
    The first half of it which is the rewrite of 'Prisoner of Zenda' is quite fun and actually a little more entertaining than the original in my opinion.
    The second-half based on the sequel to Zenda (i'm assuming) however just really outstayed its welcome and i got quite bored with it by the end. It has several major plot errors as well which don't help, and many more coincidences and Deus ex machina's than the first half.
    There's an excellent version of this on Libravox which i started listening too, once i got bored with reading it. [2/5]

    The Moomins and the Great Flood by Tove Jansson (1945)
    Delightfully odd children's story. Just dark enough to be engaging. I don't normally like things this random but it rides that fine line between absurd and compelling. [4/5]

    The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan (1879)
    This isn't a terrible opera, in fact there are lots of individual bits i liked, however it feels oddly common compared to other G&S productions. None of the songs really stand out.
    I might be a bit biased however as i've never been a fan of comedy policemen or the pirate aesthetic, so this was always an uphill struggle for the writers ;) . [2/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    Vampire City by Paul Feval (1867)
    A horror/comedy, supposedly showing events which led Ann Radcliffe to write 'Mysteries of Udolpho'. This is a pre-D(racula) vampire story and as such none of the usual vampire rules apply.
    The story is told to the author by a servant, who heard it from Miss Radcliffe. These layers of removal from the actual events make it feel like reading myth or urban legend and allows the reader to easily ignore any errors or contradictions that might arrive in the plot.
    You would think that this distance from events would however be detrimental to any sense of horror but this is not the case due to the surreal and nightmarish form's of horror which the author uses, its almost Lovecraftian at times.
    Towards the end things do go downhill a little, it feels like maybe this started as a pure vampire story and the gothic satire was added later on, it doesn't quite mesh.
    One aspect i particularly liked was that our main action hero is irish. Much comedy is derived from this fact given that the story is being told by someone english, allowing the story to make fun of english prejudices.
    I think this story would be a great piece to read alongside Carmilla and Dracula. [4/5]

    first 10 issues of OZ australia (1963)
    Underground anti-estalishment magazine. Featuring articles on corruption, abortion, censorship etc. Censorship being their main pet peeve. Its interesting enough, although 1960's australia is a very specific time period to be interested in ;) . A lot of it is to topical to still be of interest. [2/5]

    OZ uk, #28 (1970)
    In 1967 OZ magazine moved to the uk and in 1970, feeling like they were losing touch with the youth, they commissioned #28 the 'Schoolkids' issue. Put together almost entirely by teenagers... and then everyone ended up in court on obscenity charges because it was filth :) A lot of it is damn near unreadable too, due to pictures behind the text and a small font. [2/5]

    Film Items:
    Dr. Goldfoot & the Bikini Machine (1965)
    Goldfoot has his fem-bots seduce millionaires to steal their money but a bumbling secret agent uncovers his evil scheme. This slapstick spy comedy clearly had some influence on the Austin Powers movies but there's a good reason why you've probably never heard of it.
    I thought it was just bad until the last ten minutes when it just seemed to run out of script completely and decided to fill in the remainder with a ridiculous chase sequence. A few fun references to other Vincent Price films, but that just makes you want to watch those rather than this :) . [1/5]

    Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966)
    Christopher Lee returns for this sequel which goes from average to bad due to the weather or lack there of. The dialogue suggests this is set in deep winter but its clearly filmed in at most, a mild autumn. This problem is most apparent at the climax which takes place on a sheet of ice or rather awful looking perspex trying to fill in for ice.
    Most pathetic dracula death ever! :P [2/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Müller-Fokker Effect by John Sladek (1970)
    There's a song by Pink entitled 'Chaos and Piss', if you extended it to 'Chaos, Piss and Computers' it would not be a terrible description for this book.
    The central premise is that the government want to transfer human consciousness to computer, but since this is set in the '60's they only have those big tape machine's to work with.
    However that's beside the point, as realistically this doesn't have a plot. Imagine a Dickens novel or Catch-22 maybe but with NO central character. So your just stuck with the crazy side characters. You have an eccentric millionaire who thinks everyone else is fictional, the founder of a playboy-esque magazine, a tele-evangelist, a painter, an advertising executive, about a half-dozen other major characters aswell as a full accompaniment of racists, conspiracy theorists, art critics, military cadets, indians and transvestites.
    The '60's aesthetic is one of the best things about it and the individual elements are interesting if a little hard to follow at times due to the large assortment of characters.
    It's also not the worst time to read it as its sci-fi elements are probably more apt today than they were in the '60's and its political connotations are unfortunately not out of date especially with Donald Drumpf running for the american presidency.
    Overall better than Roderick the only other Sladek i've read, but definitely not for those who like to have a normal a-b-c plot. [3/5]

    Petsetilla's Posy by Tom Hood (1870)
    Fairytale comedy. Who knew people were already making fun of fairytale tropes as early as the 1870's! Thats not to say it just grabs a bunch of fairytales and mashs them together. It rather builds its own unique world which just happens to collide with some of the better known fairytale ones.
    I will say some of its political satire while funny is definitely too highbrow for the kids of today and probably the kids of the 1870's too i'd imagine.
    An interesting and fun read for older fans of things like 'Once Upon A Time', Shrek, Terry Pratchett etc. [3/5]

    Film Items:
    Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
    Sketch comedy film with a parody of a 50's B-Movie acting as the filler between each skit. Despite more nudity than you might expect, its pretty awful, i liked maybe one joke. The comedy does not stand up well (if it ever did) to the test of time. Also the movie parody section's only joke is that its a cheap B-Movie, nothing clever is done with it. [1/5]

    Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)
    This is the movie parodied in 'Amazon Women on the Moon'. Its pretty cheap yes but by no means so-bad-its-good, or the worst movie ever made etc. I even found it mildly interesting in a couple of places. [2/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Begum's Fortune by Jules Verne (1879)
    Relatively short story, this is an odd one. It starts as if setting up a family drama about the dangers of a sudden influx of money, switches to utopian fiction before morphing into a James Bond style espionage thriller.
    The basic premise is that a frenchman and a german both inherit an obscene amount of money, naturally (because Verne is french) the former uses his to help all mankind while the latter attempts to exterminate the former as a prelude to taking over the world.
    It seems pretty insulting to the germans until you remember that whole Hitler thing, then it just seems prophetic. However despite one side being composed of nazi's its still hard to entirely sympathize with our supposed heroes who show their own brand racism and sexism. Its a bit short and anti-climactic but interesting. [3/5]

    Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1933)
    I imagine that Hilton must have read 20,000 Leagues as the set up is quite similar in both books. You have a group of people who find themselves in mysterious but interesting circumstances and a conflict between those who wish to stay awhile to uncover the mysteries and those determined to leave.
    Of course apart from that the books differ significantly. Rather than the sea we have beautiful mountain scenes. The descriptive writing isn't too long but is very clear. The characters also are very distinct and well defined.
    The tale certainly doesn't go where i expected at the end of the normal narrative however I don't feel the prologue and epilogue were as well done as i would have liked. Really compelling and very well written mystery which is also not too long.
    A moderately excellent story :) . [4/5]

    Film Item:
    Performance (1970)
    A strange trip, man! Very much a film of 2 halves. An enforcer for a british crime syndicate hides out in the hippy area of town in apartments owned by former rock star Turner (Mick Jagger). The second half is more of a spiritual awakening sort of thing, as such its a lot slower than the first half although still interesting. [3/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (1353)
    A hundred tales, set in a frame story of some rich people hiding in the country to avoid a plague.
    The author would like this not to be judged on its length as it's made to kill time. If i lived in the 14th century i might agree but i don't, so i won't. So yes the low score is in part simply due to the length and repetitiveness of the tales although there are other flaws which i will get to later.
    There's actually a lot to like in this, its pretty funny in places, its got a lot of sex, it takes quite a few shots at religious hypocrisy, always a winner with me... but it's so long that the good is too spread out.
    My main complaint however is its views on women, this may seem obvious given the time in which it was written however, it starts off seemingly pro-equal rights and it was this which made the latter parts so much more appalling.
    You see several stories actually have strong female characters or at least sexually aggressive ones. Boccaccio seems to believe women have absolutely as much right to sex and having affairs as men, shocking!
    But then the penny drops and you realize that while the author is all for women saying YES to sex, he is horrifyingly against women saying NO to sex.
    While they are not in the majority the number of tales involving women being tricked, manipulated, blackmailed, bought & sold or otherwise used, builds up over time and generally cast a pall over my reading experience.
    One particularly disturbing tale is about a women who refused a man, he and she later die and God punishes her for her 'saying no' offense with a ghost-life of being repeatedly hunted down and brutally murdered. The haunting is also used as an example to all the local women to show them how God feels about you not spreading your legs for anyone who asks, ugh!
    Towards the end there are also two tales back to back, one involved a man so generous he was willing to die to please a person who wanted to kill him, the other about a man who finds himself in a position to rape a woman without fear of consequences and decides not too.
    A debate follows as to who was more generous, the man willing to die or the man who decided not to rape... the debate ends in a draw... wtf!
    But to end this review on a less sour note, one story is the basis for the shakespeare play, 'All's Well That Ends Well'. Also in a recent episode of the show Elementary, Holmes used the euphemism, putting the devil back in hell, which is from another of these stories.
    Elements of goodness, elements of horribleness but not enough of either to counter the elements of tedium. [2/5]

    A Bid for Fortune by Guy Newell Boothby (1895)
    aka Dr. Nikola's Vendetta.
    A romance/thriller/crime/adventure story. Our hero is a down to earth everyman australian who inexplicably switches to a Holmes level detective whenever the plot calls for it, and gets involved in the nefarious plans of Dr. Nikola through a sequence of badly plotted coincidences.
    Our villain Dr. Nikola is a proto-bond villain complete with cat and suffering the usual personality defects. Absurdly convoluted plan, check! Inability to dispatch enemies, check!
    Don't get me wrong there are things to like here. Theres some humour here and there, also the writing overall is pretty good in the technical sense. However while you as a reader can never tell what will happen next it doesn't feel like the author knew either.
    The plot just wanders around aimlessly before the writer just seems to give up and retreat with the remains of his dignity.
    An interesting historical piece for Bond or mesmerist villain fans. [2/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    Jurgen by James Branch Cabell (1919)
    Like our eponymous hero, James Cabell is also 'a monstrously clever fellow'.
    Kinda like a meta-fictional 'High Fidelity'. A mid-life crisis questioning the meaning of existence and the disappointment of maturity versus the hopes of youth; via an insane journey through time, space and myth.
    This really is a very complete story, it has a really good symmetry to it and great use of language. Its quite lyrical and makes good use of repetition.
    There are a lot of references in this from greek myth and arthurian legend, to more specific things like the 'Devil and Tom Walker', 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came' and the land of 'Cockaigne'.
    There are complete annotations online, although i didn't find them necessary to the enjoyment of the story they are quite interesting in their own right.
    Fans of Terry Pratchett, especially his book 'Eric', will see a heavy inspiration from Jurgen. However this is no kids story, a LOT of this book is about sex although it's all written using innuendo and double entendre which adds to the humour of the story. In fact this is a very funny book, with a sort of constant low grade background humour which i loved.
    Towards the end i felt the sex jokes were getting a bit repetitive but just as i felt that, the author seemed to feel it too and cut back on them for the remainder so i can't call that a fault.

    I'm sure there are some who will say this is not a perfect book 'and certainly I cannot go so far as to say they are wrong: but still, at the same time—!' :) . [5/5]

    Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle (1918)
    One thing missing from these stories is a list of the dolls. You do get to know them as you go along but a role-call at the start would have been nice so here you go.
    Raggedy Ann - Female, cheap stitched doll.
    Four Penny Dolls - Female, small dolls.
    Indian Doll - Male, given his tracking skills i'm assuming 'indian' as in Native American.
    French Doll - Female.
    Uncle Clem - Male, scotish doll complete with kilt.
    Tin Soldier - Male, made of metal as the name suggests.
    Dutch Doll - Male, Dutch dolls are usually wooden. Says 'mamma' when knocked over (i had no idea they had talking dolls as early as 1918 :) ).

    Proto-toystory tales. Read about what the dolls get up to when their owner isn't looking. These are really nice kids stories and even the gutenberg versions come illustrated, which is great.
    There are some minor issues, it can be a little bit twee at times. And by a LITTLE bit, i mean it occasionally feels like your trapped inside a candyfloss, while under rainbow cannon assault by an army of 'Care Bears' riding 'My Little Ponies' :P .
    It also goes in the opposite direction on occasion. While it's made clear the dolls feel no pain, it's still a little unsettling when they get damaged, such as "Raggedy Ann.. smiled so hard she ripped two stitches out of the back of her rag head." :eek: i know its just a doll but thats still creepy :D .
    Overall, very hard to dislike even for someone as emotionally dead inside as I am ;) . [4/5]

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  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum (1900)
    I'm not a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz having had to watch it pretty much every freaking christmas since time began... wait what?.. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is on the other station!.. no.. NO.. i take it back, i love Wizard of Oz.. noooo i'm not watching Charlie and the god damn Chocolate Factory again!!... ahem! :P
    Sorry where was i? Oh yes..
    I'm not a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz but i was interested in seeing how the source faired in comparison. Normally there are quite a few differences in an adaptation but not so in this case. Yes there are some minor additions in the book but nothing particularly memorable.
    As for changes, pretty much all of those made for the film are minor improvements. The wish giving scenes being particularly funny in the book and not in a good way :) . Dutch courage! might as well have given him a gun like in Futurama! ;) .
    Overall nothing too exciting but now that i have this out of the way i can try some of the sequels which might prove more interesting. [3/5]

    The Golliwogg's Polar Adventures by Bertha Upton (1900)
    So glad another of these has been scanned to the web. The Golliwogg heads north along with his pretty awesome lady-friends the Dutch-Dolls.
    As well as being possibly offensive for having a golliwogg in it (although he is the hero), environmentalists may also want to look away as the protagonists do try to kill most forms of local fauna. On the up side they rarely succeed ;) .
    Really nice rhyming story and beautiful drawings. [4/5]

    Film Item:
    Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922)
    A FOUR hour silent film... 4 hours!... IV! Surprisingly it stands up pretty well for all of that time. Featuring a mesmerist supervillain who's also a master of disguise. The latter mostly being due to his gay, coke-fiend stylist :) .
    It is a little odd that it focuses on Mabuse's gambling as he has many other seemingly more lucrative and interesting plots. Pretty interesting female characters here too.
    I do have to mention the film's idea of hypnotism seems a little extreme, as at one point Mabuse hypnotises a man who is 20 feet away and has his back turned! Thats not hypnotism thats some Professor-X bullcrap :) . [3/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Nyctalope on Mars by Jean de La Hire (1911)
    Early french pulp. I'm not a big fan of pulp but this is quite different from others i've read. Its a far more... psychological work than i was expecting. A woman spends the entire opening chapter trying to shake off the effects of a drug she was given and get a grip on herself after waking to find she has been kidnapped. Its quite effecting.
    A lot of descriptions of how people are feeling and how their feelings change. You'd rarely see an enemy become a friend in a Burroughs book for instance. The translator who quite dislikes* the book considered those sorts of things inconsistencies of character and therefore flaws but i really enjoyed these shifts, they felt quite human to me.
    Its sort of like a pulp mixed with a melodrama. Oh and its also set a few years after the martian invasion from H.G. Wells 'War of the Worlds' which is pretty neat.
    There are a couple of strong female characters which is nice. One of them is kind of a bitch too, which is also welcome :), she's pretty much an anti-hero. Female characters rarely get to act badly and still be the good guys.
    It's still a pulp though and suffers a bit from its serial origin although not as much as the translator believes. Its main issue is that it goes on longer than it probably should and then just kind of tapers away at the end.
    The literary equivalent of a B-Movie but of the better variety :) .

    *I assume the editor also hates this book as the BlackCoatPress edition has innumerable errors. Actually they're not innumerable because i counted all 91 of them!!! Hopefully future readers will not have to deal with those problems as i sent the complete list of mistakes to the publisher. Luckily they're not a Take-Away or i'm sure they would spit in my food ;) . As it is i'll be upgrading my anti-virus before opening their next response :P . [4/5]

    Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell (1936)
    This book isn't for me... but i can't imagine who it is for. This is a about a man who supposedly is trying to rebel against capitalism and society. A poet perhaps who has higher things in mind than the usual mundane human existence.
    My main issue with it, is that i know it's all bollocks. I've met this type of person, in fact i know them intimately. Their not rebels, they simply lack the will and the skills for life. Every one of them actually wants to be part of society but just doesn't know how to quite connect with people. It may even be a form of clinical depression but i can't say for sure. In anycase there is nothing new for me here.
    As for other readers, i don't see how they could possibly understand this protagonist. I doubt even Orwell truly could.
    For the average reader this will seem merely depressing with quite a dislikable hero.
    The writing is still good but its not a story which really seems to need to exist. Its too squalid to be entertaining and not political enough to be interesting. [3/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (1889)
    My opinion of this book vacillated wildly throughout. This is technically what you think it is. Its a comedy about a man who ends up in arthurian britain. However it isn't just a comedy... its a dark, DARK comedy! I mean its like 1984 dark... in fact its like 1984 not just in its darkness but also in its politics.
    This book has a lot to say about human ignorance, slavery, the human capacity to sell each other out and work against their own interest etc.
    The pointedness of the story actually works against it a little as its far longer than it needs to be. If your just writing for writings sake you can make it as long as you like, but if your trying to make a point its best to keep it short and punchy.
    Having said that i'm glad it wasn't too short as it took me at least a third of it to get used to the language. The arthurian speak was actually fine for me but the 19th century american dialect was really annoying. For a while i tried, in my head, to replace the Yankee with Ash from the Evil Dead (Army of Darkness) films :), but wasn't able to keep it up.
    Slavery is addressed in the book as i've mentioned but Twain avoids any open talk about african americans, it seems very deliberate. I think Twain knew his audience and wanted to get his point across without it being blocked by the readers racism, at least thats what i hope he was doing.
    In the end this is a difficult and longer read than i would have liked with a wildly fluctuating tone. It did make me chuckle at times as well as upset me. Another of those 'glad i read it (past tense) books' ;) . [3/5]

    The Adventures of Signor Gaudentio di Lucca by Simon Berington (1737)
    A man is overheard talking about a strange non-christian people and is dragged before the Inquisition to explain himself. The story has several layers to it.
    On the one hand there are adventure elements, a pirate battle, a trek across a vast desert etc. Then there are the interruptions to the narrative by questions of the Inquisition. It gets fairly densely religious in places, although i can't really tell if its a satire or not.
    It also feels a little like a Jules Verne story at times with numerous notes to explain its assertions. However since it was written in the 1730's its facts are woefully and sometimes hilariously out of date.
    One moment its discussing the difficulties with measuring latitude and longitude, the next its how the Chinese are descended from the Egyptians or how the Egyptians became great sailors because they knew a guy who worked on Noah's ark etc.
    Once however we finally reach our destination things grind to a halt as we get into an incredibly boring description of a, maybe utopian society although even the narrator can't seem to fully commit to his utopian ideals. The people are perfect... except their eyes are too small. Their the most beautiful people in the world because they're so incredibly inbred... except its annoying they all look alike. Make up your mind already!
    In the end we get back to the adventure story with some awful coincidences and Deux Ex Machina's just to fully ruin any good will i had left.
    There are a few interesting incidents and ideas but probably one best left on the scrapheap of history. [2/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    This Island Earth by Raymond F. Jones (1952)
    Pretty good 50's sci-fi. An engineer gets involved with a company that seems to have some extraordinarily advanced equipment but whats their secret?
    It occasionally approaches greatness with analogies of how small nations get used in the wars of great nations. The author also seems to have a major issue with unions. It does feel a little serial at times, there's some late developments which i'm sure weren't planned from the start.
    The writing is bit simple, it also tries to keep up the mystery elements for a lot longer than it needs too. It constantly teases plot turns which don't usually occur.
    It's female character is... i don't know what she is. She has multiple degrees and is usually shown to be the smartest person in the room but nobody listens to her and she doesn't seem to mind, she has a weird submissive nature. The whole thing felt feminist and misogynistic at the same time.
    Not much else to say without giving away the plot, this was turned into a B-Movie but i don't know how similar it is to the book. [3/5]

    Brigadoon by Lerner & Loewe (1947)
    When i say i hate musicals there are a lot of exceptions to that statement. However this is the sort of thing i mean when i say it. Twee as hell, hate the costumes, hate the scottish setting, hate the dancing, and the songs were lame and unmemorable. The stage production i saw didn't even seem to have any songs during the last 30-40 mins anyway.
    Not completely awful though, a few spots of laughter and darkness, the production and cast i saw were actually good but this script gave them very little to work with. Brigadoon's not my paradise. [2/5]

    In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka (1918)
    Odd little short story. Kind of interesting mostly due to the death-penalty in america currently fighting for existence. [3/5]

    Film Items:
    Duck Soup (1933)
    The famous Marks Brother's war comedy, set in the little country of Freedonia. Its.. ok.. I mean its pretty decent but i didn't think it was the comedy classic everyone claims. [3/5]

    Citizen Kane (1941)
    My prior knowledge of this was mostly from the snowplough Simpsons episode and a Ghostbusters comic i shop-lifted as a child. I knew the big reveal of course and expected this to be as boring as the Simpsons suggested. Boy was i wrong, this is really surpisingly good :) . Still stands up well, aesthetically it's Tim Burton-esque at times.
    Wolf of Wall-Street also appears to be a remake of it. [4/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe (1785)
    Tall tales of the unbelievable exploits of Munchausen, i wonder if the Donald Trump character is based on this guy :) .
    This isn't great but is better than i expected. Random nonsense of this sort tends to really bore me but every time i started to lose interest something would occur to coax at least a wry smile from me.
    Usually stories like this are done as satires like Voyage to Cacklogallina, Gulliver's Travels, Niel's Klims Journey Under Ground etc. But this bares more in common with Rabelais or Lucian's True History. Its just absurd for the sake of being absurd.
    Some of the tales are definitely influenced by older works, for example his description of his entourage is clearly stolen from the grimms fairytale The Six Servants, which makes me wonder how many other elements are borrowed.
    Overall, mildly entertaining, maybe a little gross for kids, a lot of incidents involve things going in or out (or both) of people or animals.

    The version on gutenberg i tried seemed a very chopped down translation, i eventually settled on a version illustrated by Gustave Doré who's drawings did add a little something extra to the reading experience. [3/5]

    Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown (1798)
    An american gothic thriller. Quite close to giving this 4 stars but it does take quite a while to get going. It was almost exactly half-way through that things finally started to get to the point. The story builds up quite a bit of tension despite the rather formal language.
    It's a surprisingly modern tale in terms of its violence, i suppose other gothic works like Castle of Otranto and Vathek are violent too but its done in a much more over the top and less recognizable way. This felt in parts like an episode of Criminal Minds.
    The resolution and final reveal are much better than i was expecting however the explanation doesn't re-iterate past events with any detail, so if you weren't paying attention before it won't do you much good.
    If you want a properly dark and tragic mystery this might be for you, if you can get past the vocabulary. Also the very end is a sort of epilogue and felt quite pointless and a bit of a let down after the earlier climax.
    This is still pretty shocking in places for a modern audience, i can't imagine how it must have been received in 1798. [3/5]

    Film Item:
    The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
    The film adaptation of the classic serial. Parts of the serial have been lost to time so this is the next best thing. This barely made it to 3 stars. The story feels quite familiar and the actual final explanation of whats going on is given out in a couple of lines and is very unclear. However It is a bit more gross than i was expecting towards the end which at least let it go out on a high note. [3/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    The Adventures of Captain Hatteras by Jules Verne (1866)
    A mysterious benefactor outfits a ship and crew for what seems a voyage in arctic seas but no one is sure of its ultimate goal.
    So this starts off both as a mystery and more or less a comedy. Its quite light-hearted at the start. The mystery element seems a little forced but does make sense given the nature of the main character.
    A very mixed bag of a novel. Some good high seas and arctic adventure elements. Some useful facts although a lot of its science is laughably out of date. The factual elements especially the history of polar navigational can be quite boring.
    The most interesting factual elements for me were how one survives a winter in the arctic in the 19th century which is far more involved than i previously expected. My other hope for the story was that it was about the english but written by a frenchman, which always left the ultimate conclusion doubtful. And there were some nice twists along the way.
    Overall, many an outdated element and the second half was much more uneven and pulpy than the first but overall not a terrible adventure story. [3/5]

    Princess of Babylon by Voltaire (1768)
    Some say this is a work of philosophy, if so then so is every fairytale ever told and every Gulliver-esque satire ever penned.
    It starts off like ancient myth or history, but aesthetically more akin to 'Gods of Egypt' than say 'Moses'. After a while it gives up on this and becomes more or a satire. Most of the satire is still understandable but some is a little hard to decipher.
    The fairytale love story elements take a bit of an interesting turn towards the end but not enough. And then its all over, i can't quite tell whether the author got bored or just ran out of ideas.
    Overall its mildly diverting, i'd have given it 3 stars in a void but comparing it to other satires, there's just so many more interesting things to read. [2/5]

    South Pacific by Rodgers & Hammerstein (1949)
    Musical set on an american held island during WWII. Not the most memorable songs but they fit the setting. It seemed light, breezy and forgetable until the end of the first act when things took a surprising twist. However they did seem to have problems integrating the songs with the more dramatic second act. [3/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Items:
    Island by Aldous Huxley (1962)
    A world weary journalist finds himself on a utopian island. This is a surprisingly pure utopian novel. When i say pure, i mean lacking in story. Utopian or dystopian works have to lay out a lot of information, geography, history, politics, religion, economics, education etc. The newer the work generally the less time is spent on these elements and the more it focuses on a single story, ie the more modern the less pure (and less boring).
    This book is a bit of a throwback, with long stretches of information dumping. It does however manage to stretch its thin veneer of story pretty effectively throughout and is generally able to keep the reader from being too bored.
    As for this utopia, on the surface its a pretty standard hippie nation, based on mediation, tantric-sex, magic mushrooms, rock climbing and eugenics... ok those last two may seem a trifle odd. The eugenics is minimal but i guess Huxley just couldn't stop himself from throwing in at least a little bit.
    However below the hippie surface are some really interesting ideas, for me the most appealing is how it deals with education and family life.

    Despite its utopian nature there isn't anything too absurd in the make up of this society, except perhaps their use of hypnotism which seemed to stretch into the realm of science fiction but i can't say for SURE that its ridiculous.

    Downside apart from the info dumps, this island is buddhist at heart which can result in some pretty meaningless (or profound) discussions.
    Also the story is at its worst when it focuses on the main character who is pretty unlikable, even more so than i think the author intended. At one point he mentions his wife had multiple miscarriages which he mentions in a single throwaway line which seemed very callous. Also all the younger women on the island seem to go topless and he occasionally ogles some fairly young girls in a way that did not endear him to me.

    Overall, its characters and story are thin but well crafted and it has some really thought provoking ideas. [3/5]

    The Other Side by Alfred Kubin (1909)
    Boy did that go downhill..... slowly.
    An artist and his wife are invited to live in the secret Dreamland put together by a, lets call him an eccentric millionaire.
    Whatever your idea of a Dreamland i can guarantee this won't be it :) . Its some pretty good weird fiction until the book starts announcing that the end is nigh... which was at the half-way point.
    It just kept going and going. It also got more surreal and i prefer weird to surreal, its a fine line between the two.
    The second half is more harrowing and graphic but i actually laughed at some of it as it just didn't have enough depth to be compelling or properly disturbing.
    Some interesting imagery and ideas but far too long.

    I believe the source of Patera's power is based on the idea of residual energy. The theory that objects or buildings which have been near extreme emotional events (such as murder) retain some of that emotional energy.
    So Patera uses the energy in the buildings and objects to power himself and allow him to manipulate his victims into extreme emotional states. Some of the energy of these emotions goes into the buildings and objects. Patera uses this energy to manipulate his victims into extreme emotional states and round and round we go :) . [2/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Item:
    This one isn't actually referenced in the League comics but i read it so i might as well mention it. It's certainly something which could fit easily in the League world :) .
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1846)
    A tale of love and revenge... the revenge is still going... yep still revenge... i'll let you know if it stops.... not yet... nope still revenge... Yay! happy ending, well that makes up for everything ;) .
    Is this a comedy?
    I mean it isn't, but i also can't take it entirely seriously nor do i think i'm meant to. I have a very thin skin when it comes to physical or psychological abuse and there's plenty of both in this and yet... it rarely bothered me here due to the way it was presented.
    Firstly this is almost all flashback which immediately takes the edge off as your somewhat forewarned as to how things will go. Then there's our very cheery intro character who always lightens the mood whenever we return to him. It helps too that the child abuse mostly happens to Heathcliff who is pretty immune to pain, in fact there's probably fanfiction around where the family find Kal-El (superman) instead of Heathcliff :) .
    The final mitigating factor in what would otherwise have been a grim hell of a read, is that all of the characters are shown to be rather horrible. Undermining the normal empathy one would feel, although it still does make you feel something for them all despite their flaws, which is an achievement.
    So i ask again, is this a comedy?, at least a dark comedy? because it had the tone of 'Cruel Intentions' with occasional forays towards 'American Psycho' or something similar and both of those are comedy's.... i think :P.
    My point is that this is gleefully horrible as opposed to 1984 or something equally painful to read.
    I struggled with the third quarter the most. After the half-way point it seems as if events are repeating themselves just with a younger cast. However by the end you can see that this is intentional and actually provides a nice symmetry.
    As a fan of weird fiction the mystery of Heathcliff also provided a little something extra. In fact you could actually replace most of the characters with vampires and this would still work rather well i imagine :) .
    Overall, i might be being a tad generous with my score but it has some excellent dramatic scenes and some very good characterization.
    I'd recommend reading it when you have some time on your hands as i found being able to burn though several chapters at a time was a very useful way to get past the darkest sections and back to lighter ones :D . [4/5]

    Child of the High Seas by Jules Supervielle (1931)
    Haunting short tale about a little girl living in a very strange place. Reminded me of the game Limbo :) . Excellent imagery. [5/5]

    Film Item:
    Million Dollar Legs (1932)
    The small country of Klopstokia comes up with a plan to fix the countries finances by scoring a sponsorship deal, which requires winning the Olympics. This improved greatly as it went along. Very stupid comedy, reminded me of Blazing Saddle's or similar fair. Very short at only an hour, feels cut down in places. [4/5]

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Item:
    City of Glass by Alphonse Brown (1890)
    First some notes on the BlackCoatPress edition. That picture on the cover is a complete lie!, i mean yes thats a city of glass and yes there's a city of glass in this book but one is nothing like the other :lol .
    Secondly, there are some typos... 201 by my count. I've sent the list of corrections to the editor, people like detailed lists of every little mistake they've made right? :P .
    Thirdly, don't read the Introduction before reading the book as it may spoil some things. Actually, thats pretty good advice for any book ;) . Anyway on with the review.

    This is a very fun Verne-style adventure story. Its really humorous, even the setup as to why this arctic trip takes place is quite absurd but very funny. And when word gets out about the expedition they receive all sorts of crazy letters, the type of thing i imagine NASA get emailed or tweeted to them on a daily basis :) .

    However... once we get to the actual title element things get slower, it doesn't spend too much time on the science aspects but nevertheless it still manages to get bogged down. Some confused romance and other elements are occasionally funny but mostly annoying or at least disposable.

    Overall, if this had continued any longer i feel its score would have continued to slide downward but as it stands it wasn't too bad and an easy read. [3/5]

    S.F.X. Van Dusen, the Flaming Phantom by Jacques Futrelle (1907)
    Short deductive detective story about a haunting. It was fine while reading but the more i think about it the more questions i have :) . [3/5]

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  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭wreade1872

    New Item:
    Exploits of Engelbrecht by Maurice Richardson (1950)
    Surreal comedy. Sort of like a mix of 'Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas' with the 'Adventures of Baron Munchausen'. Its presented as a sequence of short stories covering various events such as a boxing match against a grandfather clock, a play preformed by plants, a football match against Mars etc.
    Its quite funny and does manage to hold the attention unlike many other surreal or tall tale stories. Each section is just long enough so the absurdity doesn't have time to get old and each is presented like a real event except for the extraordinary Things which are doing it. So for example the sports stories are all told with a good sports commentary impression. This keeps things from becoming too surreal, which is something i hate. If you go full surreal and have no grounding element then there's simply no sense of stakes and it becomes boring.
    I did have a few problems understanding parts of it, the cricket and horseracing in particular, probably as these are not sports i know very well.
    I have a feeling if any of the sections (or the book as a whole) was longer the novelty would have worn off along with the entertainment value but as it stands quite enjoyable.

    The ebook version doesn't have any drawings i'll have to search about on the net and see what i'm missing. [4/5]

    Ill made Knight by T.H. White (1940)
    Firstly, i haven't read the other books in this tetralogy but i don't think i've missed too much. Secondly, this is not for the arthurian novice, it seems to expect you to be quite familiar with the source material. Personally i'm not a fan of arthurian legend in general, but have absorbed most of the details through cultural osmosis. I've also read 'Idylls of the King' and a 'Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court'.

    This book is actually written like a biography or history as opposed to fiction. The author pretending that arthur was real but that historical scholars have so far not known the real facts and here they are. It does however occasionally do the annoying thing of admitting it doesn't have all the answers. This makes sense with real history but whenever it happens here i couldn't help but think, 'you're making it all up!, if you can't explain why someone is acting a certain way its because you're a bad writer!' :lol .

    I thought this was going to be a lot darker than it is. A Watchmen style deconstruction of the arthurian heros, and i guess that's sort of true but without the darkness. I would say Idyll's is more like Watchmen, this is more like... Kickass :) . Idyll's gives us realistic heroes in an unreal world, while despite a fair bit more magic, White gives us real people in a fairly real world. He also gives us humour, some of which seems to come completely out of left field and the book seems quite uneven in tone.

    Also there is a very odd aesthetic, in that the whole thing has this underlying 1940's viewpoint. He compares jousting to cricket and characters occasionally use modern vernacular at random moments. It actually feels like a Connecticut Yankee at times. As if the personality of the characters has been time-warped back from the 40's.

    Overall my opinion went up and down quite a bit throughout, it did finally get into a gallop in the final quarter which is when it really seemed to make the points which it was trying to do throughout. I'd like to give it a lower score just to separate it from Idyll's but its still good while not a favorite of mine. I prefer fiction to history anyway, even if the history is fictional ;) . [4/5]