Oct. 28, 2013
Friendly reminder that this little guy here is:
- The assistant/son of the man who “fired the shot that changed the History of After Colony” (aka the man responsible for the death of the original Heero Yuy) which prompted some colonists to launch “Operation Meteor.”
- And the little boy who, while aiding colonial rebels in AC 188, fired a rocket launcher at Treize Khushrenada’s direction that led to Treize’s hospitalization in the Barton Family’s med facilities. Oh, and that’s where Treize met Leia Barton, who would give birth to Mariemaia Barton-Khushrenada a year later. :)
Oct. 23, 2013
You’ve a good heart. Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go. But mostly, it’s not.
Oct. 23, 2013
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: urban fantasy, science fiction
My Rating: ★★★★ (4.5)
Letting myself be ‘bitten by a radioactive Gaimanesque tale’ is probably one of the best things I did while exploring contemporary literature. Perhaps it did not transform me into some kind of a spandex-clad superheroine, but it gave me a peek into worlds of not-quite-dreams and not-quite-realities that made sci-fi and fantasy genres my cups of tea. These are worlds that only Neil Gaiman can bring to life. Once you get past their doorjambs, there’s no turning back. They are all damningly addictive.
Neverwhere, Gaiman’s first solo novel, is one of the bigger proofs that can easily justify his King of Fiction status in my personal lit hierarchy. It follows the story of young Brit everyman Richard Mayhew, whose life was turned upside down after helping a wounded girl on the sidewalk. He loses his fiancée, his job, his apartment, and nearly his mind. Suddenly it is as if he does not exist anymore—he has become semi-invisible, a non-person. He soon realizes that it is only this way with London Above. After he aided Door, the injured girl, he has unofficially linked his existence to London Below, a grittier and more dangerous parallel place to the one he has always known. In order to make sense of what is happening, he accompanies Door as she escape thungs on her trail, hoping that he can go back to his life in the end.
Neverwhere is an excellent amalgamation of almost all the essential elements a first-time Gaiman reader has to acquaint himself/herself with. There is the theme of ‘doors into alternate worlds’, angels, borrowings from other literary masterpieces that he tweaked into perfect molding with his story (Easter eggs from Lovecraftian tales are easily my favorite), and of course, magic. With his sterling prose, Gaiman blended and hooked these elements onto a fast-paced plot that is not just chockfull of adventures, but also of things you can pick up on a journey to self-discovery.
The ensemble of characters is wonderfully colorful. I liked Richard a lot, despite being a very nondescript antihero. Trying to untangle himself from the mess he got hurtled into by his Good Samaritan act, he is often stuck between being stubbornly reluctant and tremblingly terrified in assuming the role of a savior—a role he has to accept anyway, despite almost always filling the shoes of the guy-in-distress. It is worth noting though that in his unassuming eyes, he had just become some kind of a gender-bent version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy Gale, desperate to go back home. He develops a quite understandable one-track mind. Before he can achieve his goal, however, he will have to face ordeals that will bring a lot of enlightenment about himself and life in general.
The determined Door, the enigmatic Hunter, and the sassy Marquis de Carabas are intriguing characters that provide a stark contrast to the otherwise bland (albeit charming) protagonist. The plot leaves too many questions about them though, and I wish Gaiman will indeed go back and answer these or even expand this universe.
What I liked the most about this book is how Gaiman’s ace world-building made it seem like the two Londons have lived to become characters in the story as well. Gaiman has once said that Neverwhere can be read concretely, but there is something about the whole ‘fraternal twin’ cities as he presented it that suggested heavily of satire. The busy London’s underbelly is often populated with those “who fell through the cracks in the world.” They can clamber back up, but if they are not completely ignored by the Aboveworlders, they will remain in their memories for no more than a moment.
London Below residents are basically Rummage Sale Rejects on two feet; even the Lady Door, daughter of the prominent Lord Portico, is clad in an assortment of dirty colorful fabrics beneath an oversized leather coat. Based on their appearances, Under-wordlers are very possible representations of beggars, vagabonds, runaways, or even just those who lost their residences and jobs. Like in many major cities, losing either of the two is grounds for becoming a ‘non-person’ to other people, so to speak. Now, remember how Richard takes great notice and—does not forget—the wounded Door the first they meet? It thinks it is chiefly because only the kindest and most compassionate people are the ones who acknowledge or help these ‘Underworlders’.
As for the prose, what can I say? Gaiman does not dial down when it comes to showing his writing talent. Along with the characters, London Below came alive…a gritty, dangerous, and labyrinthine place where time and consequences roil differently from its counterpart. Replete with humor, action, and drama, the book is packed with stunning imagery (OH, and watch out for the torture scenes, for in the recesses of my post-nightmare memory a few nights ago I can see glimpses of the whole thing. It still disturbs me when I think about it.)
The plot is admittedly sewn from standard tropes, but the execution is done exceptionally, capped with a Gaimanesque twist. The ending left many people disturbed or dissatisfied because it flips one substantial part of the book into what seems to be a wild goose chase, but I liked it a lot. The only things I am concerned about are the questions I mentioned above.
4.5 stars for a very satisfying read!
PS: I’m deeply saddened to hear the news that a New Mexico high school has pulled out Neverwhere from its reading list because a parent complained it has graphic sexual content, or something along that line. I think the school’s decision to pull out (‘temporarily ban’?) the book is a knee-jerk reaction. From the news bits I’ve read Neverwhere has been on their curriculum since 2004, and there hasn’t been a complaint ever since. Why relent easily to one mother’s objections? Have they even read the whole book? :( I hope they rectify this mistake soon.
For the curious, click here to see the, um, "jumper-fumbling" scene. Obviously, the point of the whole thing is to underscore Richard’s “invisibility” to the couple, and if the dear mom is having problems about the language or the make-out scene itself she should try watching the shows her kid watches right now, or just spy on a bunch of high school kids to hear how they talk these days. *BIG SIGH*
NO TO BOOK BANNING!
Sep. 22, 2013
Check out this rad project! The admin is “break[ing] down a mobile weapon’s head into tiny pixelly form” and is working on each series upwards, chronologically (by series release date). It’s been a month since the blog’s last update, but I wish the admin has not really given up about it. I have to see Pixelixed Gundam Wingheads first! Haha!
Sep. 22, 2013
View from a Thinking Playpen: Dorothy Catalonia (again)
Blathering more about her character and her Machiavellian chess game on the Eve Wars (that backfired badly)
Dorothy Catalonia. If some people didn’t categorize her readily as a nutcase that popped in the middle of Gundam Wing for perhaps no other reason than to add a bit of color to the plot, they viewed her either as a poor excuse for a Relena Peacecraft antithesis or an obnoxious extra.
Once upon a time I thought the creators didn’t pay Dorothy any substantial attention, which might explain her lack of growth and dimensional weight as a character. I was constantly wondering why they’d let her open up so late in the series—it’s almost like it dawned on them that the audience will consider her presence a hairsbreadth away from being a total waste of space if they will not give her “war hobbies” at least an inch of depth. So they did, even if it’s on the penultimate episode (Ep.48: Take Off into Confusion).
One rewatch later, when I’m old enough to understand things in the show, I realized that the creators didn’t really write her off as an insignificant minor character.
For one, she was responsible for moving big pawns in AC 195’s one chess game of a war. She’s the whisper in Duke Dermail’s ear about leading the space forces and leaving Romafeller open to Relena’s voice. She somehow had a hand in Relena reign as a Queen and the subsequent birth of a unified world nation. But more importantly to her—important as in a deeply personal level—it was her suggestion that killed her grandfather in space.
Now, Dorothy might be a vastly manipulative force with Romafeller blood in her veins, but she’s still a girl. Remember her terrified expression before she replaced it with a smirk. She’s good at putting up a tough face to the world since her father died (at least that’s what we can construe from her sparring with Quatre). Losing another father figure, this time because of her own Machiavellian schemes, must have made her crumble a little more inside. But with everything throwing itself at a chaos at that time, Dorothy would have no time to allot for grieving.
Then we see her siding with White Fang—being in the thick of things, not only getting on the front seat but hopping onstage as well. She had somehow involved herself in this war anyway, why not go all the way? But everything she planned went awry. Her mobile doll assault against the gundams was thwarted, Treize Khushrenada died, and—surprise, surprise!—she didn’t die. I’ve always thought she’d chosen the broken battleship Libra as her grave (see this pseudo-meta).
She’s a survivor. Aside from Milliardo, she’s one of the few people who held the “battle that would end all battles” belief who lived through the Eve Wars. Many people didn’t know Milliardo was actually alive. Wouldn’t it be a bit harder for her than anyone else there? Pondering about all the things she’d lost and in the end being proved a loser? You’d think that would be enough for her to just to decide to give it all up. To die.
But she’s there in episode 49. “I’m tired of living in the past,” she says in front of Milliardo’s and Treize’s graves. If there’s a major lesson Gundam Wing taught me as a kid, it’s that sometimes, being a survivor is equivalent to having to fight a longer, harder battle—the one in your head, the one in your memories. The true victors are those who chose not to be defeated by the ghosts of their past. Along with the others who started anew, Dorothy emerged and continued to live.
Oh, and it doesn’t end there. Dorothy appeared in Endless Waltz too. She’s her usual self, but this time she’s using her tactics to goad the people to go against Mariemaia in the most peaceful way they can. If she wasn’t there to provoke the mob, it would have ended a bit differently, more violently.
I kind of loathe to know that her growth—as a character and as an individual—happened off-screen…but then again, there are massive chunks of important stuff the creators couldn’t cram into the animated medium, so I guess their little hints through Dorothy’s short scenes are enough. :)
Um, let’s not talk about Frozen Teardrop, okay? She has become the President of the Earth Sphere Unified Nation there, but I refuse to talk about it. JUST NO.
Sep. 22, 2013
Guess what? It snowed last night.
Sep. 22, 2013
Oh, books are definitely drugs. No argument could ever convince me otherwise. Based on my latest “inventory,” there are over 150 unread novels among the countless books in our shelves and pseudo-nooks. I know that’s criminally inappropriate, but it didn’t stop me from buying more books from the 34th Manila International Book Fair this weekend. I…just can’t help it. I’m a hopeless case, and I’ll shamelessly tell you I’m okay with it. :p
Anyway, here’s the stack that dismantled my carefully planned budget this month:
- The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. From Goodreads: The Colour of Magic is Terry Pratchett’s maiden voyage through the bizarre land of Discworld. His entertaining and witty series has grown to more than 20 books, and this is where it all starts—with the tourist Twoflower and his hapless wizard guide, Rincewind (“All wizards get like that … it’s the quicksilver fumes. Rots their brains. Mushrooms, too.”). Pratchett spoofs fantasy clichés—and everything else he can think of—while marshalling a profusion of characters through a madcap adventure. (Blaise Selby)
- Lit Riffs edited by Matthew Miele. From Goodreads: Following in the footsteps of the late great Lester Bangs—the most revered and irreverent of rock ‘n’ roll critics—twenty-four celebrated writers have penned stories inspired by great songs. Just as Bangs cast new light on a Rod Stewart classic with his story “Maggie May,” about a wholly unexpected connection between an impressionable young man and an aging, alcoholic hooker, the diverse, electrifying stories here use songs as a springboard for a form dubbed the lit riff.
- Dune by Frank Herbert. From Goodreads: Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family—and would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what it undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (new awesome cover!). From Goodreads: “Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.”
- Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally. From Goodreads: “Schindler’s List is a remarkable work of fiction based on the true story of German industrialist and war profiteer, Oskar Schindler, who, confronted with the horror of the extermination camps, gambled his life and fortune to rescue 1,300 Jews from the gas chambers.”
- It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. From Goodreads: Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life—which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job—Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That’s when things start to get crazy.
- The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer. From Goodreads: After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time lover, Greta Wells undergoes electroshock therapy. Over the course of the treatment, Greta finds herself repeatedly sent to 1918, 1941, and back to the present. Whisked from the gas-lit streets and horse-drawn carriages of the West Village to a martini-fueled lunch at the Oak Room, in these other worlds, Greta finds her brother alive and well—though fearfully masking his true personality. And her former lover is now her devoted husband…but will he be unfaithful to her in this life as well? Greta Wells is fascinated by her alter egos: in 1941, she is a devoted mother; in 1918, she is a bohemian adulteress.
- The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Five novels in one volume (and it costs the same as the book 1 in this series when I bought it)! From Goodreads: Seconds before the Earth is demolished for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is saved by Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised Guide. Together they stick out their thumbs to the stars and begin a wild journey through time and space.
More blabbering at my blogspot.
Sep. 22, 2013
Handy advice by writers. As part of their “Shared Worlds 2013”, Wofford college asked Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Lev Grossman,Joe Haldeman, and more artists, editors, and writers for a photo of their writing advice written on their hands. Check out the rest.
Randomness at its best.
Expect to find here some weird stuff, lots of cuteness (yes I roll like that), some Gaiman, a little of rock music, fashion, or whatever I fancy atm.