What I'm Reading: April Edition (Considerably Late) (Part 1)

The End of the World by Don Hertzfeldt


I love Don Hertzfeldt, from the moment I watched REJECTED to the times I witnessed a balloon terrorize a little boy through his later, epic films that deal with the end of the universe, the sad results of a-sort-of time travel, or a man slowly going insane. I heartily and thoroughly recommend watching every single thing of his you can get your hands on.


(also, as he was also born in 1976, he serves as both an inspiration prodding me towards my own success, and a scourge berating me for my lack thereof)


This book is a collection of images, some of which were used in his latest film THE WORLD OF TOMORROW (which you might still be able to find on Netflix) and all of which posit the end of the world and the horrible things that happen on our way there. He draws  in stick figures, but stick figures have never made me feel so much.


What if? by Randall Munroe


You might know Mr. Munroe from his comic XKCD, which is smart and beautiful and, strangely, also mainly uses stick figures. These don't make me feel as much as Hertzfeldt's do, but they make me think more. And not just because I have to cut out paper outfits for them and tape them to the screen as I read.


Munroe wrote a book called WHAT IF? (as in, What if you haven't gathered the title by now?) which answers questions. Apparently he has been doing this for a while, answering questions sent to him via his comic website. Those questions often are impossible ones, such as What would happen if the Earth stopped spinning all at once? Even though this scenario would (likely) never (hopefully) happen, he answers them to the best of his scientifically-minded ability.


It's an enjoyable read, assuming you like to read about the plausible repercussions of impossible science-fiction scenarios.


God's War by Kameron Hurley


I know about Kameron Hurley because she has the most successful Patreon I've seen for a writer. Hers was the model I used for creating this here thing you see before you now. If you want to check it out (and her writing is beautiful and terrifying and amazing, so I suggest it) just type her name into the search bar above and VOILA! you will have left me here by myself, writing only to the sound of my own voice, while you venture onwards and outwards forever, a probe to a distant planet.


GOD'S WAR begins with a woman selling her uterus. This is a world were body parts are sold, grafted, easily replaced, infected, remade. It's a world where a war has been going on for hundreds of years, and men are sent to the front to die and women do everything else in the society, creating an entirely female society. It's a world where men and women transform into beasts and wizards are adept at bug magic. It's gross and disturbing. Our hero is a mercenary who is as anti-hero as you can get while still being our hero. She is not someone you'd want as a friend.


But I'd read about her forever.


Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke



As you know, if you follow these pages religiously (or even irreligiously), I've already talked about this book here. In sum, it's like a YA book written by someone who believed that talking down to kids was the best way to learn them. And I don't think it was actually written for kids.


Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood


I've read all three of Atwood's MADDADDAM trilogy now, and despite what most people say about trilogies (that the second is the weakest, just getting the reader from here to there) I like the second book the best.


This is the first book, and it's perhaps strange that I like the second better because they both tell the same story. The world is destroyed by a super virus that, after a short incubation period, essentially melts the infected into a pile of organic goo. The first tells the story through the viewpoint of two men, the second through the viewpoint of two women. That's probably why I like it better (though part of the reason for the up-in-like is how the second book, and the characters in it, build on what's laid down in the first).


For anyone in doubt as to whether I like this particular book or not, Atwood's writing is ingenious and magical, like cotton candy for the eyes. Also kind of like cotton candy you put on your eyes, not because you're supposed to (because it's that kind of special cotton candy) but because you want to see if your eyes can taste, and if they could, they'd be able to taste this.