Archive for Eternal Sabbath

Comics by women: some recs for a friend

Posted in Comics, Fantasy, Manga, Science fiction, Young adult with tags , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2012 by Cara Marie

These are some recs for my friend Sarah, who has gone back to Sweden. I’d lent her some comics while she was home, and the night before she left, she commented on how all these Vertigo comics were written and drawn by men, and edited by women.

And that it was all very well that they had good female characters, but she’d like to see more women written by women.

Flatmate and I kind of laughed (it’s like self-defence).

But here are some comics recs for Sarah. I have no idea how easy they would be to get hold of in Sweden, of course!

Ōoku, by Yoshinaga Fumi

Alt-universe historical Japan: a plague has decimated the male population. Full of interesting what-if, the way things change, the way they don’t. Most of it is told from the point of view of men in the shogun’s harem, but it is a very expansive narrative – covering a huge period of time, and a variety of stories.

My favourite arc is in volumes 2 and 3. I have so much love for Iemitsu, the first female shogun. How her cruelty hides her hurt, how that hurt has shaped her, how it shapes the world. And how the male protagonist’s perspective on her changes, once he sees through her games.

It’s like ‘The Queen and the Soldier’ except (somewhat) less heartbreaking.

It’s an interesting comic intellectually, there’s a lot to chew on, but it’s also very emotionally gripping. And gorgeously drawn.

There’s a fabulous series of thinky posts on the first few volumes at The Lobster Dance – very spoilery, of course! But well worth reading.

Mystic, by G. Willow Wilson

Secondary-world fantasy, two best friends who dream of becoming magic users are torn apart when one of them is inadvertantly picked as a royal apprentice, and the other is not.

I’ve reviewed the first issue before, with pictures etc, and I found the whole thing to be very satisfying – except that I wanted more!

It’s very much a comic pre-teen Tamora Pierce fan me would have loved … and I haven’t changed that much.

Eternal Sabbath, by Soryo Fuyumi

A woman who feels disjarred from normal human relationships, who is a brilliant scientist but who is awful at social cues, gets involved with a man who can pass perfectly well in human society … but is really something else.

It’s a sci-fi thriller choc-ful of ethical dilemmas, and some of the most sparse and striking artwork I have seen. But also I can just relate a lot to Mine – knowing you’re not getting things right, but not being able to do differently; dissecting emotion, using it, and feeling like a cheat.

I could also hope to be as brave and forthright as she is.

Ceres: Celestial Legend, by Watase Yuu

I started reading this back when manga was still released issue by issue. Sarah read it then too, but I don’t think she ever got to finish it – I didn’t get all the trades for years, long after they stopped releasing the single issues.

Ceres is the story of Aya, a teenage girl who discovers the true legacy of her family: that they are descended from ‘celestial maidens’ (like selkies), and that some girls in the family are able to manifest as their foremother, Ceres.

Naturally, this means they have to die. Aya included.

The series is like, a billion doomed love stories, and the happiness you grab while you can, and not hiding from your feelings. About sacrifice, for the people who are your friends and your found family, and about the will to survive.

It has a lot about gender, not all of which I agree with, but it always feels very honest.

Also it’s just plain addictive shoujo manga, and the kind of comfort reading where you don’t mind you’ll be bawling by the end of it.

Reading for January ’08

Posted in Books, Comics, Fantasy, Manga, Non-fiction, Science fiction with tags , , , , , on February 1, 2008 by Cara Marie

Fiction

Day, R W – A Strong and Sudden Thaw
Kirino, Natsuo – Grotesque
Lee, Tanith – Eva Fairdeath
Mull, Brandon – Fablehaven
Nin, Anais – Artists and Models
Pierce, Tamora – Melting Stones
Tiptree Jr, James – Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
Valente, Catherynne – The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden

In the Night Garden was the best book I read this month. I knew it was necessary for me after coffeeandink posted about its sequel. It is amazing, filled with stories within gorgeous stories, with invented mythology, and characters who choose to be monsters. Now I am waiting for In the Cities of Coin and Spice.

Non-fiction

Gould, Joan – Spinning Straw into Gold
Heinrich, Bernd – Mind of the Raven
Jones, David E – Combat, Ritual and Performance: Anthropology of the Martial Arts
Paul, Jonathan – When Kids Kill
Sei Shonagon – The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
Tatar, Maria – Classic Fairy Tales

The best non-fiction book was The Norton Classic Fairy Tales, mostly because it gave you several different versions of various tales all next to each other, and it was really interesting to compare them. Maria Tatar writes an introduction for each type of story, then you get versions of the story from different cultures, including a modern-day retelling for most. At the end of it, you have a bunch of essays by various fairy tale scholars – some of which I enjoyed, others that irked me. I’m not very big on Freudian interpretations, see.

It amused me to see the way in which the stories changed – particularly Little Red Riding Hood. When you know the version where the woodchopper rescues them (The Grimms’ version), people say, ah, but originally there was no rescue (Charles Perrault). But here we have ‘The Story of Grandmother’ – which is a folk version on which Perrault’s was presumably based – in which the girl tricks the wolf, and rescues herself. Score!

And next to these, two modern retellings, in which Red Riding Hood is not conned by the wolf – ‘she whips a pistol from her knickers’, as Roald Dahl says (and you really should read that poem, and then this one).

A most worthwhile book!

Manga

CLAMP – xxxHolic, vol 7
Hino Matsuri – Vampire Knight, vol 2
Kazuo Umezo – Scary Book, vol 1
Kouno Fumiyo – Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
Kubo Tite – Bleach, vol 10
Soryo Fuyumi – Eternal Sabbath, vol 1
Yazawa Ai – Nana, vol 8
Yuki Kaori – Angel Sanctuary, vol 1

Aside from the joy of more Nana, the most exciting manga for me was Eternal Sabbath. I liked the simplicity of the art, and the female scientest protagonist Mine, and how she related to Ryousuke, who is a genetically engineered being who can pretty much infiltrate himself into anything. Mine knows what he can do, and he knows she knows, but neither can do anything about it. I’m looking forward to reading more – and also pleased it’s only eight volumes. I’m very bitter about all these series that run into the twenties.

Comics

B, David – Epileptic, vol 1
Kibuishi, Kazu – Amulet, vol 1
Murase, Sho – Me2, vol 1
Pierce, Tamora – White Tiger
Powell, Nate – Please Release
Schreiber, Ellen – Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, vol 1
Shaughnessy, Ian & Holmes, Mike – Shenanigans
Simmonds, Posy – Gemma Bovery
Various – Yuri Monogatari, vol 2
Watson, Andi – Glister, vols 1 & 2