Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons (Books 2019, 21)

I like to reread this from time to time, and right now I’m considering watching the TV version that’s currently on. It’s HBO, which means Sky over here, which would traditionally have ruled it out on ethical grounds. But times and corporate ownerships have changed. The Murdochs no longer own Sky TV, so I can let myself watch it.

But then we have the other ethical question, about Watchmen in particular. Which is to say, since Alan Moore feels that he was cheated by DC over the ownership of the creative work, and repudiates all derivative works, shouldn’t we avoid them too? I saw the movie version, but I didn’t get the Before Watchmen spin-offs.

Well, it’s been a long time; Moore and Gibbons must have known what they were signing up for, even if things didn’t go quite as they expected. I recall seeing Moore at a convention in Glasgow in 1985 or 86, where he said, “DC are utter vermin.” Yet he went on to work with them often after that.

Plus, I’m already reading Doomsday Clock, which brings the Watchmen universe into the DC multiverse, so personally, that ship has sailed.

How does the story stand up today? It’s still excellent, I would say. With the obvious weakness of the ending. Though thinking about that, what’s weak is how preposterous Veidt’s plan is. Accepting that, that part of the story is well executed.

It’s still one of my favourite comics.

Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons (Books 2019, 21)

Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (Books 2019, 18, 19 & 20)

His Dark Materials, as I said.

Holy hell, this trilogy is good! I think I’d forgotten just how good it is.

In the first book we meet Lyra, a wild orphan who lives in fabled Jordan College in a parallel Oxford. Plots and adventures quickly ensue.

The second volume starts with Will, a boy who lives in our world, and who has to run from his home because he has killed someone. How will his story connect to Lyra’s?

And the third builds on everything that has gone before, and a whole lot more.

There are armoured bears, angels, daemons, airships, witches, harpies, the dead, and much else. The fate of worlds hangs in the balance.

If you haven’t read it, you should. You could start watching the TV series instead, but I expect there’ll be a long wait between the seasons, and the books are right there.

Of course, I’m going to find myself in a similar position with the sequels. It was eighteen months ago that I read part 1, so presumably we won’t get the conclusion till some time in 2021.

I like what they’re doing with the TV series so far. Enough changes to keep it interesting, not enough to spoil it.

Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (Books 2019, 18, 19 & 20)

Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith (Books 2019, 17)

No, it’s me, not London Below: this has also faded quickly from my mind, despite the fact that I love MMS, and I really enjoyed this as I read it.

Still, it’s very good. Hannah is an ordinary girl living in present-day California with her dad and (maybe) mum (sorry, mom).

Until the devil turns up, and her grandfather turns out to be his engineer. And he knew Bach.

Inevitably, the world needs to be saved.

Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith (Books 2019, 17)

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (Books 2019, 1)

The Flights novel alongside a small set of stone-carved elephants
The novel Flights with some elephants

I’m pleased to have finished the first book of the year — and the first of my Christmas books — already. It’s a book about travel, and the human body, and some people and things that happen to them. Is it a novel? It consists of a series of short sections, and a few longer ones. I can’t really call them chapters: some are no more than a paragraph, even a sentence. It does have characters, though: notably the narrator, who is the voice of most of the shorter sections. She appears to be someone who spends most of her life travelling around the world without necessarily any destination or purpose in mind.

That doesn’t make it sound as compelling as it is. There are connections between at least some of the stories, which make me think there must be more connections that I missed. A lot of it regards the preservation of dead bodies, from early embalming techniques to the “Body Worlds” plastination of Gunther von Hagens.

In the end it doesn’t quite form a unified whole, so in that sense I’m not sure we can really call it a novel. But it’s strangely compelling, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (Books 2019, 1)