Monday, December 08, 2008

Book Reviews

All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson

I just finished reading All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson.

Ostensibly the culmination of the "Bridge" trilogy (the 2nd of which I'd already read, Idoru, but I've not yet read Virtual Light. They are not so much sequels as successive novels chronologically set in the same environment and sharing many of the same characters.

Like most Gibson works, you're exposed to a world that seems to be in the near future and has a lot of elements of our current world. He's so meticulous in the details and almost poetic in his writing style. It always takes me a few chapters in a Gibson book to get in the rhythm of it. But once I do, it's hard for me to put them down.

All Tomorrow's Parties explores the technologies that are just in the process of emerging and have not yet formed the world that is familiar in novels like Neuromancer. It's not necessarily the same future as that of Neuromancer but seems to indicate a move in that direction. The book also delves a lot into the nature of data patterns, a subject that occurs in a lot of his books, most notably Pattern Recognition.

One of the things I like about Gibson is the Blade Runner dirtiness to it. Even though his stories are about computers and virtual worlds, there is a real world earthiness to them. And a lot of punk and underworld references.

There are other "cyberpunk" novelists, but Gibson is by far the best and generally considered the original. About the only other author of this genre that I really read is Neal Stephenson. I've heard good things about Bruce Sterling (who has collaborated with Gibson) but have not had the chance to read him yet, though I do have a few of his books.


Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

I've come really late into the graphic novel genre. I was by no means a comic book kid growing up. I was a sci-fi kid and just didn't get the attraction of comic books. Naturally assuming their subject matter to be that of Saturday morning cartoons, I dismissed them out of hand. Kinda figured that only goobers who didn't like reading words bothered with 'em. Considering how much of a social outcast I was, I probably shouldn't have been casting aspersions.

With Watchmen being made into a movie and with the film success of renderings of graphic novels such as 300, V for Vendetta (also by Moore), Sin City, etc., I figured it was time. And from all that I had read, Watchmen was the perfect place to start.

The Watchmen refer to a group of superheroes in an alternate America. Where it diverges from a lot of superhero stories is in the development of the characters. These are deeply flawed people who don't always have the noblest of intentions or methods. In the same manner that Unforgiven deconstructs the Western, Watchmen is very much a revisionist comic.

It has a very unique narrative style that intersperses the main story with fictional supporting documents. Almost like a case file or dossier.

There are a lot of political and sociological elements in the story and like V for Vendetta, you can certainly find elements common with our current world, even though this story is over 20 years old.

Comic book readers certainly don't have to be told about Watchmen. I'm sure they've all read it. But if you are new to the graphic novel and comic book area, take a look at this one. You won't be disappointed.


wunelle said...

Intriguing, the graphic novel. The only one I've read is Max Allan Collins's Road to Perdition, which I loved. But I was never sure if I liked it because it conjured one of my favorite movies...

Perhaps I'll give Watchmen a look.

dbackdad said...

I've never seen Road to Perdition, but have wanted to. I didn't realize it was based on a graphic novel. I'll have to check both out.