What an afrogeek reads
So I’m literate. Not like I know how to read, I don’t find that a proper definition of the word, but rather I’ve been doing nothing but reading since I put two in the back of the head of the televisual altar in my abode. And I’ve been staying true to the genre folks, re-instating my fugitive identity as afrogeek addicted to the word. So here’s a list of works that I’ve been consuming in the past three months, with mini reviews. Time to turn off the tvs and pick up some books…and guns. Oh yeah, the images are...well I couldn't think of any images so I just put up some stuff to remind all the black people reading this that at one point us reading was a capital offense. Homie right above, he was just trying to take some time off to read a poem is girl sent him. Now look how they did him. Just for reading a poem. Seriously though, don't take the images too seriously.
Chocky- Here’s the problem with American sci-fi, its not as good as British stuff from fifty years ago. In about 150 pages, Wyndham challenges the notion of imaginary friends and creatures from other planets. It has the potential to be extremely creepy but ends up being surprisingly tender.
The Midwich cookoos-Turns out Grant Morrison didn’t make up the Stepford Cookoos. Also turns out that John Wydnham should’ve been what I was reading growing up. I always knew there was something definitely fucked up about the Suburbs. Funny thing about the Midwich cookoos is it trips on this very surreal sort of anxiety about sameness. Similar to the need for multiple renditions of “Little Boxes” at the beginning of Weeds, to illustrate that while everything may look the same, they are actually different, Midwich offers the frightening possibility that there is no difference amongst the super washed.
Terminal-Vachss is what all hardcore zealots wish they were, a life long soldier in a battle against this enemies, any deranged lunatic who thinks abusing kids is a good idea. I’m honored to say that I’ve read every book this man has put out and I’ve even had lunch with him. I promised myself I wouldn’t contact him again until I’d publish something worthy of his eyes. With Terminal he’s raised the bar yet again. Old friends get hurt and new folks enter the periphery of the family known as the Children of the Secret. Vachss writes the hard core legacy that Hammet and Spillane only saw in their nightmares. It’s not sensational, No LA Law type bullshit. It’s the real talk. Read him and learn him.
Cinnamon Kiss- I’ve been told for a while that Easy Rawlins was a cat to get to know. So naturally I pick up what is supposedly the last book in the series. It’s ok. I like the fact that he’s a detective with a day job. But there’s something a little too positive about him. A sick child who needs medication? Seems a bit too cliché. Me, I want to read Mouse’s story, but maybe that’s only because every line written reminded me of Don Cheadle. All in all, it’s a weekend book. I could’ve chilled until the softcover came out, but I like to support black writers.
The traveler-Wow, what a mixed bag. I read the Traveller, and the sequel, Dark river. Premise wise, I’m ok with it. Big bad all encompassing Panopticion in your brain baddies want to take down the “Travelers” folks who can project their spirits, light, don’t get too caught up on a name, to other dimensions where similarly weird societies and folks exist. Keeping the travelers safe are the Harlequins, bad asses with swords, nothing but combat training and the manners of lame zoots (If you can name the reference and you’re cute I will have your baby). This is one of those stories that suffers from the publishing/film rubric. There has to be a love interest, there has to be a reluctant hero, the “good guys’ have to by sympathetic, the bad guys have to be vilified. It makes what could be a complicated and intriguing set of interactions mere bullet points on the plot train. That’s not all that makes these two books weak for me. First off, they make heroes out of Pakour (players, jumpers, man-apes?) in the second book. What’s up jumping on the band wagon…three years too late. Once B13 came out, the hype should have died. Plus Pakour, while kinda funny to look at, is not a way of reclaiming city space. It’s running up walls and flipping and shit. Shit, that’s like saying the movie Wild thing was a stunning commentary on the socio-economic realities of gang life during the Regan era. Yeah, that was just an excuse to mention Wild thing, I admit it. Anyhow, the final reason I’m just not loving the trilogy is the author. They make such a big deal about the dude living “Off the grid”. I’m like Who gives a damn where you live, whether or not you have a credit card or a phone? I get the sense homie is taking this stuff a little too seriously. Are we all being watched all the time? Yeah. But so what? Do what our cousins the bonobos do and show them your shit. Whose going to say anything against you after that?
Babylon babies-Yeah, ok, so tons of fun, if not highly dated. Whatever you do, don’t see the movie and think you’ve read the book. It’s French translated (And I get the sense that some of the nuances of the language are missing) so it rambles a bit like the French, but there’s lots of explosions, sex, and glowing people delivering the future of humanity through cloned typhoid mary type babies.
Blink-Note to the publishers of Blink. IF you want to make this book a bible for the black geek class, put Malcolm Gladwell’s picture on the cover. Finally read this work an have so many story ideas spinning off of it. What’s really funny is reading current fiction, comics, you can tell whose taken his ideas to heart. Like I swear a new support character in Moon Knight is a thin slicer beyond compare. Seriously, I'm seeing a gang nerded out beyond the pale (pun intended) negroes with Gladwell like hair analyzing split decisions and making them with a sort of preternatural quickness. It's a possibility is all I'm saying. Read the book if you want to know what I’m talking about.
The world without us-It’s real out here folks. Global warming, airborne illnesses, lack of resources. It’s only a matter of time before we’re all waiting on line for our plankton rations. But for some reason,a world without us makes me feel not so bad about that prospect. Don’t get it twitted, I’m not going to be on the plankton line, I’ll be out in the desert with my people, learning how to survive on a thimbleful of water a day, but A world without us explains beautifully how the end of humanity is not the end of this planet. For instance, without “us” (and by us the author means humans, not just black people) it would take about a week for Manhattan to flood. After that critters would start coming back. Not human bound critters like rodents and roaches, but opossums, rabbits, gophers, wolves. Man, wolves in Times Square. What a sight. Right now, the way things are going, I’m predicting a super resistant form of staff, or whooping cough, Chicken pocks that wipes out 65-85% of the human population, some 12 monkeys type shit. Once that happens, then maybe we can go back to driving SUVs.
Children of men-Ok, I love the movie, love it. Especially love the Zizjek commentary on the DVD. The book, which I equally love, is so freaking different its worth the read. For one it is delightfully pessimistic. I mean a guy being honest about how he didn’t want to have children and so when his daughter died, he wasn’t exactly sure how to feel. How fucking real is that? That’s why I read. No, not the content, but rather where else would you find such a sentiment? Hollywood and Tv edit out such real emotions and the internet often over-inflates them for the sake of being edgy. Regardless, the novel creeks out a barely sci-fi plot along the broad roads of human anxieties about aging, state control, and the population as a whole. It’s not sure that if you love the film you’ll love the movie, but it you’ve got a bit of misanthropic idealism in you, a sort of “80% of the human population is gone? So what?” Then you’ll dig this book.
Empire Star-Unlike my esteemed colleague, I go for Delany quantity and not quality. I like these little “What the hell” thought exercises Delany. I wish the publishing world still allowed for 132 page experiments, but sadly, that’s what blogs are for. Anyway, this is one of those rare treasures you find at the used book store and kill in a matter of hours but spend three weeks thinking about afterwards. I get the plot of this one mixed up with “Life as a series of semi-precious stones” a short story from his collection, “Aye, and Gomorrah…” though I don’t know why. One is about a temporal shift and the problems with faster than light space travel, the other is about a series of identity shifting adventures one, or many intergalactic criminals take on. The deception with Delany is that he sounds so very facile, but to read him is to be confronted with a host of question marks. I’m dead smack in the middle of a short story homage to him that has nothing to do with sci-fi and where he is never mentioned, only a weird fantasy I have about the man’s daughter. Not teat type of fantasy, you pervs. Anyway, Negroes with imaginations need to read Delany the way Negores with guns need to read Fanon.
Emotions revealed-Yeah, dog. Pretty sure, I’m going to be reading your faces and being able to tell if you lie to me. That’s right, I’ll be on some old Jedi type shit, cause I’m studying this book like it was the holy Koran. And once I meet Mr. Ekman, and study with the man, it’s on like Donkey Kong. Seriously though, mad respect to a person who has spent decades studying human emotions and the facial implications of said emotions. Sounds crazy but its helped me out in a lot of my work.
More than Human-I’d have more hope for the world if there were more writers like Theodore Sturgeon. This book is what I want to write, Sci-fi that is not limited by teleportation, telepathy, and anti-gravity machines, but enhanced by them. The tale is about the next level of humanity, a cooperative Homo Gestalt, and how a particular gestalt is formed. The last time I felt the tenderness I feel towards this book was reading Elfquest graphic novels as a kid (Shut up! This is afrogeeks, I can admit I read Elfquest here). This is an gentle tale that rubs rough on your notion of conscience, morality, and the unified theory of humanity. I’m not a hippy but this book would turn me into one.
This is your brain on music-Consider it research. I’m not going to get too into it because I keep having this paranoid feeling like all my ideas for bad b-grade sci-fi movies are getting made by hacks with less talent than me, but the connection between what we hear and how we think is simply too hot to be ignored. It taps into some old tribal knowledge type shit. And without getting too Altered States about it, just know that how we think actually changes the physical form of the brain. Already I’ve said too much. David Goyer is about to read this and take my ideas away. Fuck you for messing up Blade 3 Goyer!
Electric Ladyland-This is the 33 1/3 book on Jimi’s album of the same name. Now 33 1/3 is a mixed bag. Some of them spit hot fire, like the Tribe one. Some which I won’t mention, just drag on and I’m left wondering what goat did this man have to orally satisfy on camera to get this gig? Luckily, John Perry has not Chupacabra tendencies. The author of the Electric ladyland has what I think all true Jimi fans need, an honest understanding of Jimi as a bluesman and an appreciation of what he brought to technology and not the other way around. The way I read it, Jimi is to the guitar what the dj would later be to the turntable, a liberator.
Ok yeah, fifteen books in three months. Plus my usual weekly batch comics. I’m a literate mother fucker. No wonder I haven’t been writing a lot. I know what you are wondering, “What are you going to read next?”
Well right now I’m about a ¼ of the way through Oliver sach’s latest musicophilla. I’ve read everything the man’s out out since “The man who mistook his wife for a hat” when I was in high school. Don't let Awakenings fool you, he actually has some insight into how humans behave.
The purple Cloud, by M.P. Shiel will get killed this week
Gladiator at law-for the weekend.
And then I shall stop reading for a little bit and write, which is what I’m supposedly good at. But really folks, turn that idiot box off. We just don’t have the time to be wasting our mines from off work to one in the morning anymore. There’s things to do, ways to think, time is not on our side. Make something…or break something. But do something.
And if you have any suggestions for stuff I should be reading let me know.