John Harris – The Art of John Harris Beyond the horizon

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22nd February 2015

I saw this wonderful book while browsing for Jim Burns titles. Initially it was 10€ more expensive, so I added it to my wishlist. Then the price dropped, and I immediately bought it.

Yesterday afternoon I sat down and browsed through in about an hour.

The book is a big bigger than A4 and you can see the pictures in great detail. They are amazing, especially since they are mostly in traditional oil on canvass. I recognized many of them. I’ll have to browse my library now.

John explains some context to the pictures, but the emphasis of this book is clearly on the visuals.

I think I shall go and order one to hang on the wall…

Neil Gaiman – Trigger warning

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14th – 18th February 2015

This is the latest short story collection by Neil Gaiman, and I had it on the day of release. Unfortunately, there is just only one original to this collection, albeit one of the best in the book. The other stories have appeared here and there. Of course, it is very difficult to keep track, so about half were new to me.

This book also contains the just release “The Thruth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains…” and “The Sleeper and the Spindle”.

Thankfully I bought the hardcover edition. The paper is very nice with a rough cut on the side.

It took me only five days in these busy times. Five days, I greatly enjoyed in the Neilverse.

Danniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams – Robots Uprising

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28th January – 13th February 2015

I don’t recall why I added this book to my Amazon Wishlist. There was certainly an episode of the Geeks Guide to the Galaxy Podcast on it, and it has a story by Alastair Reynolds.

I decided to clean up my wishlist. There should be nothing on which is older than a year. Either read it, or remove it.

So I finally ordered the book.

It is a very well composed collection of short stories all about Robots uprising. Very surprisingly, there was no stories which I did not like (usually there is the one or other which just does not work for you).

I enjoyed the variety of approaches on this topic. In most cases, the human hubris is the origin of the robots developing beyond control. Nearly all the stories end dystopian. That is maybe a bit sad, but of course the underlying premise of the book.

Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell – The Ultimate Collection

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31st January – 1st February 2015

I remember, back in the day, looking at the Transgalaxis Catalogue and admiring Boris Vallejo’s paintings. Somehow, I always wanted to, but never got to buying one of his books.

Finally, I changed that and went for the Ultimate Collection.

It is a classic, 80s, 90s Fantasy Art book, completely overboard, and probably by today’s standards even a bit sexist. On the other hand, it is pure nostalgia for me. So I have no chance but to appreciate it. Leaving aside potential criticism of the motives, both Boris’ and Julie’s styles are admirable and truly iconic. Wow.

Gene Wolfe – Book of the New Sun Volume 1: Shadow and Claw

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27th December 2014 – 26th January 2015

This book is highly acclaimed for being one of the best more critical Fantasy novels, not using the standard tropes, but with complex world- and character building.

That is certainly true. The book plays in the medieval universe of the “New Sun”, a world ruled by guilds and the autocratic Autarch.

The main character, Severin is from the guild of the torturers, who practice this as art, including executions in a loving relationship with their victims. I think it is the first time I have ever heard of that.

However, the book was just not my kind of thing. I can see its greatness, but I had a very hard time to get through. I think this is mainly caused by the older, typical 1970s, early 1980s Fantasy language with long explanations, but very little dialog and tension. It is too descriptive for my taste.

Well, at least I can now say that I have read it.

Stan Sakai – The Usagi Yojimbo Saga Book 1

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4th – 25th January 2015

It has somehow been difficult to purchase Usagi Yojimbo for a reasonable price in this country. You can’t order single issues, and also the collected editions are hard to get.

Finally, Dark Horse decided to publish “The Usagi Yojimbo” Saga, which each collects three (or maybe more) books. This is similar to The Walking Dead Omnibus.

Book 1 of the Saga contains:

  • Book 8: Shades of Death (Collects Mirage issues 1–6 and backup stories from 7–8)
  • Book 9: Daisho (Collects Mirage issues 7–12, 14)
  • Book 10: The Brink of Life and Death (Collects Mirage issues 13, 15–16 and Dark Horse issues 1–6)

Now I can finally catch up to this great series.

Jim Nelson – High Tech & Low Life: The Art of Shadowrun

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24th January 2015

I bought this book on impulse. I always wanted to have it, but never got to it.

It is a long-time out of print and you can only get is used. By coincidence, I spotted it on sale for a few Euros.

The book contains about 115 pages of the most iconic Shadowrun art. I have seen most before on the sourcebook covers, respectively in them, as well as on the novel covers. However, in this book the art is presented in a4 size and without lettering. Nice.

Glen E. Friedman – My Rules

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11th – 17th January 2015

I had not heard of Glen E. Friedman before, but he is “the” photographer of the 1980 Los Angeles Skateboard, Hip-Hop and Punk Scene. He shots the pictures of bands such as Public Enemy, Run-DMC, Black Flag, LL Cool J, Ice-T, Suicidal Tendencies or the Beastie Boys. And he also shot Lance Mountain, Rodney Mullen, Tony Hawk and all these guys.

This book is really, really awesome. The pictures are great, right in the middle of the action. Hard, brutal, honest. In short essays some of the major characters of that time recall the era.

It was bevor my time, but I vividly remember the swap-over back then to Germany in the middle of the 80s, when skateboards and Hip-Hop became a thing. It makes me all very nostalgic. Strange, but somehow great times.

Frank Miller – Ronin

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9th – 17th January 2015

I don’t recall exactly where, but somehow Frank Miller’s Ronin ended up on my recommendations list. I think it was a recent Wired article. I have read and liked his other stuff, so I gave it a try.

Ronin are dishonored, masterless (former) samurai. The main character, who is only called Ronin, lost his master in a fight with the demon Agat.

Both he and the demon are reborn into 21st century near future New York. The Ronin takes hold of Billy, a young man born without legs and arms. Both transform into a cyborg, who looks like a 13th century Japan Ronin. First they purely have to survive the streets of New York, then they meet Agat.

The demon is reborn into one of the powerful rulers of Virgo, an artificial intelligence running the city.

The whole story is rather convoluted to me. I followed along, but it did not capture me. Also, the drawing style is just not my thing. But maybe that is because the comic is very much a child of its time, first published in 1983. Dark, bleak and very political.

Hm.