Friday, March 19, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 2, Issue 11

Well, here we are--two days late and just a little bit useless--for the latest edition of the world-famous (not really) Waiting for Wednesday. My lights are back on, the basement is un-flooded, and the Internet is alive and well on all of my computers.

From what I've heard on the news and by talking to people in my hometown, there are still plenty of families without power, and the rumor is that the electric company won't have everyone up and running again until the weekend.

Which, in today's world of iPads and Droids, seems staggeringly unacceptable. We can put the Internet in the palm of a human being's hand, but it still takes us six days to turn the lights back on.

And that leads me to my next point. While the world was dark for a few days, I couldn't help but think about a few things.

Like the situation in Haiti after the earthquake that killed thousands of people, shattered the infrastructure of an entire nation, and left countless families homeless. They've been living without any semblance of modern life for the past two months, living in tents and battling against the elements every single day.

After 48 hours without heat and television, I had had enough.

I can't even begin to imagine the resolve it takes to live through what those people have lived through--and continue to live through--every single day.

The other thing I thought about while the lights were out (the other, way less significant thing) was the fact that it's a good thing I'm such a voracious reader. Otherwise, there would have been many hours of staring blankly at a wall in between all those trips down to the basement, making sure the generator was doing its thing and keeping the water outside.

By Sunday morning, I decided to crack open a large, somewhat intimidating fantasy novel written by Patrick Rothfuss, entitled The Name of the Wind. I say somewhat intimidating mostly because of the size of the novel--it's a huge book with big pages and small words, and it's heft is enough to knock a person out.

Not that I tested that theory or anything, though.

The other reason I say it was a bit intimidating is because I rarely read fantasy books. Sure, I've read the entirety of Neil Gaiman's bibliography, but save The Lord of the Rings, I tend to stay away from the fantasy aisle in the bookstore.

Let me rephrase that--I always check out the fantasy section, and peruse the titles and the authors, but I rarely purchase a book from its shelves. I guess I just always felt that many of the books are part of a larger series of books, and if I buy that first one, I'd need to buy five or ten more in order to get the complete story.

So when I spotted The Name of the Wind, I was struck by a couple of things. First and foremost, the title and the cover leaped out at me. Beautiful jacket design, compelling cover image, and just the right balance of summary and recommendations provided on the back cover.
Second, I was glad that this was the first--and, thus far, only--book with these characters and this world. So I knew I'd start at the beginning, and by the end of the novel I'd be in the same boat as all the other readers of the book.

I picked it up, flipped through the first chapter, and decided to buy it.

That was back sometime in May, and the book has pretty much sat on a shelf at home ever since. When I sit down to read, I want the conditions to be ideal. For example, I like reading my comics on Sunday mornings, when I know I have nothing to do.

The same goes with books, and when it comes to something as long as Name of the Wind, I wanted to be sure I'd have adequate time to delve into the lengthy, intricate story.

And so, with nothing but time on my hands for the foreseeable future, I grabbed the book from the shelf and dove right in. I'm a little over a quarter of the way through the book, and since I started reading it, I have placed an Amazon order for a couple more fantasy books, and I plan to re-read The Lord of the Rings in the near future.

Wind, I've learned, is a unique entry in the genre because it features the main character telling his own story. While there is an omniscient third-person narrator to start things off, the bulk of the text is told by Kvothe, the book's hero, in a story-within-a-story style. And this makes the novel something different in the world of fantasy literature.

And...uh...I thought that was interesting, and I figured I'd share it with you.

Right. Back to comics. Even though new comic book day is squarely in the rearview mirror of this week, it just doesn't feel right to skip the feature altogether. Instead, this week's Waiting for will be a very special "here's what I bought" edition as opposed to a "here's what I plan to buy" edition.

The biggest book of the week is probably Siege, issue three, from Marvel. Writer Brian Bendis and artist Olivier Coipel are delivering on this series and the four-issue story has been action-packed and well-paced.
By "well-paced," I mean, there's actual action and fighting in the book, which is something that usually takes time to get to in these event comics.

If you're a Marvel Zombie, then this book is high on your list of things to read, but if you haven't been following the publisher's books, I'd suggest finding issue one and giving it a shot. It's a pretty accessible story and it's told just as a big, honking event comic should be.

It's fun, it's quick, and people get punched in the head. Repeatedly.

Here's the solicit information from Marvel:

THE MARVEL BLOCKBUSTER OF THE YEAR!! In the halls of Asgard and on the streets of small town America the entire Universe is gripped in the greatest battle ever seen: SIEGE!!

Lives have been lost! Lines have been drawn! And the battle for Asgard is in full force.

The moment for revelations and life-changing moves is here, and for some, this will be the last choice they ever make in this world. What happens next is so epic, so historic, that it changes the entire dynamic of the Marvel Universe. You're gonna want to be there for this us.

Ah, there's just nothing like that good old Marvel hype, in the grand tradition of The Man himself, Stan Lee. They really do know how to write a promo, don't they?

Now, while Siege will most likely be the week's best seller, the book I'm most excited about comes from Vertigo and writer Scott Snyder. Oh, and Stephen King. And it's about vampires.

So let's run through that again.

Vampires? Check. Stephen King? Check. Vertigo quality? Check. Throw in some incredible art from up-and-comer (he's going to be huge) Rafael Albuquerque, and you have a book that was seemingly written just for me.
This series germinated from an idea by writer Scott Snyder and, from what I've read online, Snyder asked Stephen King to write a promotional quote for the series. King was so taken by the story that he instead asked to be a part of it. So now we have a book co-written by one of the most recognizable names in fiction.

Issue one (and, I'm assuming, each subsequent issue) will feature two stories--one by Snyder and the other by King. Here's the blurb:

Witness the birth of a brand new species of vampire in this new ongoing series that begins with five extra-sized issues featuring back-to-back stories by exciting new writer Scott Snyder and the master of horror himself, Stephen King!

When notorious outlaw Skinner Sweet is attacked by an old enemy (who happens to be a member of the undead), the first American vampire is born...a vampire powered by the sun, stronger, fiercer, and meaner than anything that came before.

Plus...Pearl Jones is a struggling young actress in 1920s Los Angeles. But when her big break brings her face-to-face with an ancient evil, her Hollywood dream quickly turns into a brutal, shocking nightmare.

Looks good, sounds good, and I am definitely on board for this series.

And, since I've been talking way too much today, I'll let you all go. Happy Friday, everyone, but before you go--what are you Waiting for?

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