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Secret Loves of Geek Girls ed. Hope Nicholson - An anthology combining prose and graphic storytelling, with an assortment of mostly-personal stories about being a geeky girl and dating. While most of them were decently-written experience summaries, they got a bit repetitive by the end, and several of the graphic stories seemed oddly condensed. (And honestly, the bits from Ménage a 3 and Girls With Slingshots felt thrown-in.) Not bad, but not amazing either.

As a completely random aside, I found it amusing how many of the contributors were named some variation of “Megan,” as Jethrien and I have a running gag that if you meet a woman in our neighborhood and don't know her name, you can guess Megan and be right half the time.

Dear Cthulhu Vol. 4: What Would Cthulhu Do? By Patrick Thomas - More of the same, the future devourer of all that lives as a classic agony aunt. The question-writers are often more amusing than Cthulhu’s answers in a lot of cases, because his advice is decent and his routine has gotten stale.

Extracted by RR Haywood - This is a series of fight scenes strung together by a time-travel hook that never really pays off. The first third of the book is dedicated to getting the band together, then the rest is them training and setting up hooks for a longer series. The descriptions and exposition get ridiculously repetitive (if I have to hear one more time about Ben changing his name because of what he did when he was 17; oy). The attempts at being witty don't really work; it mostly comes across as inappropriate levity. An entire chapter is dedicated to the characters marveling at prehistoric megafauna...that could never have existed because of the cube-square law. Then we get several chapters devoted to one character being depressed about being extracted, until he gets beaten to shit and gets over it. Oh, and there are only two female characters, one of whom is only referred to and is apparently a legendarily horrible person, the other of whom gets a loving description of being sexually harassed by her boss. To sum up: It's a crap book without any real redeeming qualities.

The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne M. Valente - Similar to Kelly Link’s short stories in that they have a mystical, dream-like quality to them. Better than Kelly Link in that Valente knows how to end a story. Though I think she occasionally gets into Grant Morrison territory where everything must have a wacky backstory and long description, even if that doesn't matter to the thrust of the story at all. There's a lot here, and how much gets interpreted as pretentious fluff is heavily dependent on the reader, but I was generally positive on it.

A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett - Having now read virtually his entire corpus, I find that Pratchett doesn't always produce brilliance, but he hit a stride mid-career and even in his later years things remained serviceable. Clearly some of his ideas also work better as short stories; "The High Meggas", which was the basis for The Long Earth series Steven Baxter wrote 25 years later, was one such case. I had read two of the longer Discworld pieces many years ago, but they remain very solid assuming you already know all the players. This is less a stand-alone book and more a completion piece for the thorough Pratchett fan.

Rise of the Dungeon Master by David Kushner - I hadn't realized until I saw this at a bookstore that it was a graphic novel, which prompted me to actually buy it. The problem was, they didn't actually have that much material and took a very surface-level view to the story of Gygax and Arneson creating D&D. Also, they were trying to gloss over the parts where the two of them behaved badly and were dicks to each other. (Though the author pretty clearly thinks Arneson was in the right.) It's a fun fast read of shallow history and the art is acceptable (I mean, Gygax looks like his pictures, so...) but it's probably not worth your money. Borrow my copy if you're intrigued.


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