Pokémon Adventures 03

I’ve been enjoying picking up the Pokemon Adventures manga when I have down time, and it only got better for the third volume. The pacing is very brisk, with exciting character moments, pivotal battles and heartfelt pronouncements about the power of friendship.

Pokemon Adventures 02

When it rains and during other down time, I’ve continued reading Pokémon Adventures. The second volume is a lot stronger than the first. The characters are more fleshed out and the story diverges from the games in ways that keep things interesting. The art continues to be a great match for this story, with great expressions and action that is full of energy but easy to follow.

The Prince and the Dressmaker

I really loved Jen Wang‘s collaboration with Cory Doctorow, In Real Life, so I was excited to read her latest graphic novel, The Prince and the Dressmaker. I was impressed from start to finish.

The comic pops from page to page; the art is lush and evokes so much emotion. The characters are wonderfully expressive and their stories are complex and relatable. This is a prime example of what comics storytelling can be.

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride—or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia—the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances—one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

Featuring a gender-expansive main character was an important part of what made the story so compelling. Having representation of diverse expressions of gender (or the absence of one) isn’t just politically important, but also brings freshness to storytelling when done well.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a great comic; it’ll be at the top of my list to recommend to anyone.

Edit: My friend Matthew points out the unfortunate choice to tie the story in with a cruel leader from real Belgian history. Using a fictional country and ruler in place of Belgium and it’s colonial attrocities would have been wiser.

The Zombies, Run! Book

We’ve been having a quiet day here in Marikina, and I haven’t been out for a run in a week, so I decided to live vicariously and finish reading Zombies, Run!: Keeping Fit and Living Well in the Current Zombie Emergency.

I’ve been immersed in in the Zombies, Run! world for years, first through the narrative running app and later with the board game and virtual races; I’ve generally enjoyed it, though there were choices that the creators made which frustrated me. This book is free of those frustrations and is a fun read.

The book works within the fictional zombie apocalypse world and doesn’t break the third wall, but it does provide accessible and thoughtful advice for fitness, eating and socializing through that lens. What was especially heartening was that special care was taken to be inclusive of people with diverse circumstances. One notable section, “The Chronically Ill During The Zombie Apocalypse” was especially nice to see and it included the following:

If you are chronically ill, you have probably already developed survival and mental health strategies that you can helpfully share with your community.

[…] Whatever level of energy you have, please know that your contribution is wanted and needed by the people around you!

Aside from the practical advice, there were many good bits of world building that I appreciated as nods to or expansions to the ongoing Zombies, Run! story. The technical details of ROFFLENET, stories from well-known characters and Zobo codes were fun additions.

Of special note was the wonderful illustration and layout work done for the book. This book was as much a joy to flip through as it was to read in detail.

This book isn’t as good an intro to Zombies, Run! as just diving into the app, but it’s a fine starting point for anyone not yet acquainted with it. I’d give it a heartfelt recommendation for anyone looking for a fun way to make inroads on being fitter and going about life better.

Everyone: Worlds Without Walls

Tony C. Smith, of the venerable science fiction audio magazine StarShipSofa, is putting together a science fiction anthology in response to the rampant xenophobia we see in evidence across the world and especially in the form of American fascism. He has brought together writers from countries across the world for the anthology, including Ken Liu, Lavie Tidhar, Eve Shi, Rajan Khanna, Margrét Helgadóttir, Carmelo Rafala, Yasser Bahjatt, Jonathan Dotse, Swapna Kishore, J Y Yang, Dayo Ntwari, Fábio Fernandes and Luis G. Abbadie, and with an upcoming stretch goal Samuel R Delany will join them.

Tony has been able to reach the first funding goal and now is promoting a second anthology, Everyone: Worlds Covered In Blood, which will feature diverse horror writers.

I’ve long believed that science fiction is at its best when it shines a light on what is possible, and even more so when more voices are filtered through its lens. What this anthology —and District of Wonders as a whole— will do matters and means more than just having thoughtful, entertaining stories. These possibilities, terrible and hopeful, offer us insight into what is and will be happening around us.

Visit the Kickstarter at Everyone: Worlds Without Walls to learn more and back the project.

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Tony C. Smith here, coming to you from the northeast of England, on this here planet Earth we all call home.

And what times we are living in on this world of ours. You can see it here in the UK, and even more coming across from America, news of division and injustice based on the notion that there’s an “us” and a “them”, and that those differences mean that “they” must be driven out or shut out by walls. We’re seeing so much happening that at bottom seems to be fueled by fear, manipulation, and hate.

Ten years ago I started StarShipSofa – just a little show featuring great science fiction authors of the past. We started out featuring the classics – the big names that everyone knows. Even then in those humble days we knew we wanted to shine a light on diverse writers – Ursula K. LeGuin, James Tiptree Jr., Samuel R. Delany, and other luminaries who helped create the tapestry of science fiction as we know it today.

Ever since then, StarShipSofa has sought out and celebrated diverse writers and stories. That dedication to diversity has only grown stronger over the years, and we will keep working to do even better. On top of that, we’ve shone a light on the value of exploring and sharing knowledge – everything from science, culture, history, music, art and more – because truth is what inspires us, and makes us better citizens of the world.

And that’s what it’s about – our vision of a better world. Along with our sister podcasts Tales to Terrify and Far-Fetched Fables, I really believe we have brought that vision to life in the District of Wonders.

The District of Wonders is a world where we know that diversity makes us richer. It’s a world where there are no walls, no barriers, no guns, no hatred. The District of Wonders is a world that values equality, and seeks to recognize and welcome people of all backgrounds, religions, races, cultures, and expressions of humanity. It’s a world that values truth. Everyone has a story in the District of Wonders – and every story is important. Everyone is important.So what I’m asking now is that you join me in standing against injustice and discrimination in the way that the District of Wonders does best – by sharing stories.

If successful, this Kickstarter will fund an e-book anthology of stories that offer a greater representation of ALL the people of this beautiful rich world.

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The Welcome to Night Vale novel captures all the absurdity, humour and heart of the podcast and condenses it into a…

The Welcome to Night Vale novel captures all the absurdity, humour and heart of the podcast and condenses it into a remarkable weird fiction book. The audiobook is excellent and features the familiar voice of Cecil Baldwin in more than seven hours of highly entertaining narration. Whether you already know to fear librarians or not, this is worth it.

https://nightvale.bandcamp.com/album/welcome-to-night-vale-audiobook

The current Humble Book Bundle features books that were funded through Kickstarter.

Originally shared by Apollo Lemmon

The current Humble Book Bundle features books that were funded through Kickstarter. Among those books are some excellent comics, including The Sleep of Reason: An Anthology of Horror and Ava’s Demon. Also in the bundle are some superb prose fiction books that include the Help Fund My Robot Army speculative fiction anthology and To Be or Not To Be, a choose-your-own-adventure Hamlet. The name-your-price model makes this a very affordable way to read great books.

https://www.humblebundle.com/books

Dune remains an important book to me, even though its libertarian and colonial colouring becomes increasingly…

Dune remains an important book to me, even though its libertarian and colonial colouring becomes increasingly frustrating. Much of sci fi is haunted by the specter of problematic views of its grand masters, and demands critical analysis, but there is still a lot of value in the explorations of environmental shifts and human potential.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/03/dune-50-years-on-science-fiction-novel-world