Monthly Archives: January 2012

review – planetary

Full disclosure: I am an ardent Warren Ellis sycophant. Though I haven’t yet read all his work, his fiction hasn’t yet disappointed. That’s putting it boringly. Rather, I should write that he hasn’t yet not astounded me with his breadth and acumen for writing speculative, traditional and historical science fiction. So rather than simply slew gratuitous praise, I’ll say a few words about Planetary.

Planetary defines the science fiction genre, whether in graphic form or otherwise. Science creating fiction, and fiction literally inspiring science. Constantly feeding off one another. Inventive and all-consuming with magnitudes of possibility. Ellis’s imagination is only tempered by the scope of the four volume arc in which his characters unearth mystery incarnate. If it weren’t for said characters, he’d have a wild, unboundedly orgasmic multiverse to populate on paper. Something never be fully realized, of course; so we have but a corralled current of enthrallment, advancing via strangely disparate heroes less captivated with themselves than the mystery of possibility itself. Briefly, Planetary involves restoration and preservation, of memory, old friends, of the past, of earth and most everything on it; not just earth but more importantly what the earth offers the nascent potential to reveal. Secrets in plain sight, others buried deep or quarantined by other unseen authorities. Joyous secrecy from a group of unlikely archivists.  Secrets in space, earth civilization, multidimensional factions and realized fiction.

As far as character development, I’ll venture that Ellis deliberately understates, instead focusing on the expeditious mind-bending flashes in which they participate. That he never explicitly explains the abilities of Elijah Snow and Co. is for the better, leaving the reader to surmise their perhaps unearthly origins. On the other hand, his is the first example I’ve come across to deftly shatter the “black man always dies at the start” premise. No, it is better to invite the fascination from such issues as “Mystery in Space/Rendezvous”, “Magic & Loss”, “Creation Songs” and “The Gun Club”, all top tier stories and so nebulous as they linger in the reader’s mind.

Planetary is just writing and illustration of awe. Universal awe of not what can be achieved in human endeavors, but comprehended.  A bit tangential, but that’s what both science and imagination do. Carrying one to places never thought possible.

review – a profound mind

Late to posting this, as it’s on some other sites already. But here ya go.

This particular set of teachings from the Dalai Lama is a very clear and straightforward introduction to the more complex aspects of Buddhist thought and practice. Covering the major topics like the Four Noble Truths, karma, the differing Buddhist schools of thought, as well as the central intertwining of emptiness and compassion and basics of meditation, the brief chapters contained within cover a very wide amount of material in a concise compilation.

What makes this book so effective in addition to its brevity is the care taken with translation and delivery. Not only are both well crafted for a western audience, but they are quite conversational in tone as well. Throughout the book HHDL takes great care to demystify Buddhism, focusing on the practicality of the concepts and advising the reader, as the Buddha himself would, to experiment with practice rather than strictly follow dogma. With an emphasis on approaching the understanding of emptiness, it’s certainly not light reading, but nevertheless its brevity makes it less intimidating than the more voluminous dharma texts available.

Apart from his more secular works focusing worldly ethics, A Profound Mind is a beneficial resource with surprising depth for those with a developing interest in Buddhism.