Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Turning

The Turning
by Mark Barwell
(2/5 stars)

This book was recommended to me by Amazon, mostly because I've already published a book with a similar concept (Chance of a Lifetime).  My book focuses only on one man who becomes a woman, like Virginia Woolf's Orlando or Yann Martel's Self, whereas this focuses on a mass event like the comic book series Y the Last Man.  Hard-core feminists steal an experimental drug in Australia and disperse it into the air, causing the entire world's population of men to become women, a few at a time.  Chaos ensues.

Now obviously since I've written a book on similar lines I'm willing to buy into the concept, as ludicrous as it may seem.  It does stretch my disbelief to think a single airborne particle could have such a radical effect.  It really stretches my disbelief to think there are no symptoms exhibited a male "turns".  And it shatters my disbelief to think a man can turn into a woman overnight without ever being aware of it.  I mean come on, when your entire body is rearranging itself like a human Transformer toy, you'd have to be in a lot of pain.  There's no way you'd sleep through it and wake up the next morning like, "Hey, what the heck?"

But my biggest issues are what happens after the turning.  There's something very misogynistic and a little homophobic about what happens to these men after they become women.  One of the first ones to turn is taken shopping for women's clothes by a female friend and instantly falls in love with women's clothes and shopping.  And she instantly knows how to walk in high heels and how to do her hair and makeup.  Say whaaaaat?  Rearranging body parts and increasing the amount of estrogen in the body would not be able to change behaviors at the drop of a hat.  Only 1950s comedians thought women innately possess all those behaviors.  In the real world, changing your DNA would not instantly change your behaviors.

Then within a couple days this new woman is hitting on men and shagging them as they'd say overseas.  At that point the suspension of disbelief has completely disintegrated.  Because again, rearranging body parts and changing chemical balances can't instantly erase psychological behaviors.  If you were attracted to women before, you wouldn't instantly be attracted to men.  Even if there are physical symptoms of attraction, there are a lot of mental hurdles to overcome.

This why I said there's something a little homophobic about it.  Pretty much all the men who turn are instantly attracted to the opposite sex.  It's as if being attracted to the same sex is impossible.  That's in line with what all those religious pundits who say being gay is a choice rail about.  According to people far more in the know about this subject, that simply isn't true.  You're born liking men or liking women and that's not going to instantly change because you've lost a Y chromosome.

The other thing that bugs me is the 14-year-old's fascination with sex and breasts.  It seems almost everyone who turns is super hot with huge knockers.  Is this supposed to be erotica?  Then I suppose that would make sense.  As I've previously indicated, the author introduces the sex early on.  Far too early really.  It reminded me when I watched the movie "Being John Malkovich" where ordinary people find a way into the famous actor's mind.  Almost immediately the people used it to seduce women and from there the story really had nowhere to go.  By the same token in this book you have the newly turned woman shagging by the 20% mark and the roommates (one turned and one not) shagging by 45% then you've pretty much left yourself with few options to escalate things.  It's like if a country launches it's nuclear weapons right from the start; there's really nothing more you can do at that point to escalate the conflict.  Maybe that's why it felt so dreadfully long.   

The end features first a gap in logic the size of the Grand Canyon and then a "twist" revealing the mastermind of the feminist scheme, which was obvious about 2% into the book.  All told I disliked this book on a lot of levels.  But I think it could really work as a movie vehicle for Adam Sandler or Seth Rogen, though I think Rob Schneider beat them to it with "The Hot Chick."

That is all.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cloak of the Shrouded Man

Cloak of the Shrouded Man
by Tony Laplume
(3/5 stars)

Since I'm familiar with the author's love of comics from his blogs, I was really expecting more from this book.  This is as they say a "hot mess."  After about 35%, the Eidolon, Cotton Colinaude pretty much disappears from the book.  Wasn't he supposed to be the main character?  That last 65% is largely a bunch of philosophical dialogues that cause the story to grind to a halt.

It's hard to do a plot summary because so much of the plot is murky.  When it starts off there's a Batman-type hero named Cotton Colinaude who goes by the hard-to-pronounce handle Eidolon.  (I was glad to be listening to this on the Kindle so I would know how to actually say it.)  There's another hero called Godsend who's a Superman-type.  Godsend does not approve of the Eidolon's methods, especially as he goes after someone referred to as "the Cad."

And then...I have no idea.  The middle section seems similar to Grant Morrison's "Batman R.I.P." though I think this book predates that.  Then it turns into the Iliad.  Throughout it there's a lot less action than you would expect and far more philosophical rambling.

To say something positive, it's obvious the author spent a lot of time assembling the world's mythology.  There's a lot of background information on the characters and the city of Traverse, Alabama.  There just needed to be less background and less philosophy.

That is all.