Book Review: American Elsewhere, Robert Jackson Bennett (2013)

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

One part each Supernatural & Stephen King, with a splash of Donnie Darko for that extra-trippy feeling.

fiveout of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free advanced review copy of this book through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

Welcome to Wink, where the sky meets the earth – and bumps up against the skies of infinite other worlds!

No matter how far or long her travels, Mona Bright has never felt as though she belonged; never felt at home, or even whole, deep down in the innermost reaches of her soul. Her chronically depressed, possibly schizophrenic mother committed suicide when Mona was just four years old; after Laura’s death, Mona and her alcoholic father Earl resumed their nomadic lifestyle, chasing odd jobs through the southwest and finding common ground only in hunting blinds and improvised shooting ranges. As soon as she turned 18, Mona left home, eventually settling down in Houston where she became a police officer. She met a guy, fell in love, became pregnant – only to have to her hopes of fresh starts and second chances destroyed in one tragic instant. With this, Mona resumed a life of drinking and wandering. Running, you might say.

The source of Mona’s malaise never required a supernatural explanation. That is, until she lands in Wink, New Mexico.

Upon her father’s death, Mona unexpectedly inherits a house that her mother, Laura Gutierrez Alvarez, purchased before her life with Earl and Mona. Set in the shadow of the Coburn National Laboratory and Observatory, the town of Wink was established in the ‘60s as a support for the government-funded research lab. Though Coburn is long deserted, the town remains – and in an idyllic state: despite its harsh desert climate, all the lawns in Wink are forever green and perfectly manicured. The sky is always a brilliant shade of blue, and at night an oddly pink moon shines down upon the residents. Divorce is unheard of, and all the television sets are tuned to the 1980s. Think: Leave It to Beaver meets Roswell.

With less than two weeks to spare, Mona speeds off to Wink to claim her inheritance – and hopefully learn more about the mother who is but a distant, painful memory.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Rise of Nine, Pittacus Lore (2012)

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Doesn’t live up to the potential of I AM NUMBER FOUR.

three out of five stars

* Warning: moderate spoilers follow! *

The third novel in the Lorien Legacies series (there are also three novellas, each published between books two and three), The Rise of Nine begins where The Power of Six ended. After successfully beating back Mogadorian soldiers, Six flees Spain with Seven, Ten, and Crayton. Their destination: India, the suspected hiding place of a fellow member of the Garde. Meanwhile, John is back in West Virginia, recovering from effects of a Mogadorian force field. With him is the increasingly obnoxious Nine; goofy, lovable Sam is still in the hands of the Mogs. The story follows these two groups as they attempt to make contact while evading the Mogadorian hordes – not to mention, the increasingly hostile US government. Eventually they (re)unite in a government facility (conveniently constructed around a Loric ship!) in New Mexico. Naturally, their party is crashed by archenemy Setrákus Ra; the scene for the final battle is set at book’s end. I find myself apathetic at best.

While I quite enjoyed I Am Number Four, the later books in the series have been rather disappointing. With a focus on action over storytelling, the constant skirmishes – from which our heroes almost always emerge unscathed, despite overwhelming odds – are at times repetitive and boring. While their shared heritage links them, the seven remaining members of the Garde have lived vastly different lives – yet, the author can’t seem to get a feel for their disparate voices. Through each subsequent book, the characters remain two-dimensional sketches, mere outlines of what – who – they could be. I had hoped that the writing would improve from I Am Number Four onward, but…not so much.

As with The Power of Six, this story is told by multiple narrators, namely John, Six, and Seven (Marina). Although I was less than impressed with this technique when it was introduced in the previous novel (preview chapters suggested that the POV was changing from John to Marina; consequently, the sharing of narrative responsibilities felt like a nasty bit of bait and switch), I think it’s both a necessary and effective strategy in The Rise of Nine. As the members of the Garde begin to assemble for battle, they travel in two groups: Four and Nine and Six, Seven, Eight, and Ten. Multiple narrators help to tell their separate but converging stories simultaneously. Even so, it can prove confusing at times. The change in narrator is marked by different fonts – easy enough to distinguish when there are just two, this becomes a more challenging task when there are three or more fonts to keep track of.

The mix of magic and technology, fantasy and science fiction, becomes increasingly complex (in a straining credulity kind of way) as the Garde’s most formidable Mogadorian opponent, Setrákus Ra, appears to them in visions. They discover special communication devices in their chest – corresponding transmitters and receivers – that allow the members to contact one another…in the most inefficient way possible. (And the Mogadorians? Still able to track these communications!) Loric stones are revealed to be teleportation devices. For reasons not fully explained, John becomes convinced that he’s the next coming of Pittacus Lore. And so on and so forth.

Cheesy elementary school romances abound as the remaining Loriens meet. It seems a female Legacy can’t meet a boy without developing an instant crush – and vice versa. (Apparently gay people don’t exist in this fantasy universe.) The love square between John, Sara, Six, and Sam was annoying enough; keep this up, and by story’s end we might very well be treated to a love octagram! Unless it becomes one huge “free love” polyamorous relationship, thanks but no thanks.

(Also, I love how these kids are teenagers – sixteen, seventeen – but they speak of “making out” as though it’s some huge thing. So quaint! Either the authors are being overly cautious about teen sex, or this is a peek at what sheltered, lonely lives the members of the Garde have lived. Since the author lacks such subtlety, my vote’s for option a!)

Marginally more interesting than The Power of Six, The Rise of Nine is a fun enough read, but not much more. Borrow it from the library for your next trip to the beach – or see it in the theater, assuming the sequels ever make it to the big screen.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined.)

Book Review: I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies, Pittacus Lore (2012)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

A minor improvement over Books 2 and 3.

three out of five stars

*Caution! Minor spoilers ahead!*

The confusingly-titled I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies is actually a collection of three novellas previously released in ebook format: Six’s Legacy (July 2011), Nine’s Legacy (February 2012), and The Fallen Legacies (July 2012). A fourth novella, The Search for Sam, is scheduled for a December 2012 release. The materials in The Lost Files: The Legacies were published after Book #2 (The Power of Six) but before Book #3 (The Rise of Nine) in the Lorien Legacies series – just to give you an idea of the story’s timeline.

That said, you can either read The Lost Files: The Legacies in order of its publication, or after finishing Book #3 – there’s nothing in the former that will impact the reader’s understanding of the latter. In fact, I saved The Lost Files: The Legacies for last, and ultimately prefer it this way. Some of the stories in The Lost Files: The Legacies altered my perceptions of certain characters – characters that weren’t fully fleshed out until Book #3.

Narrated by Number Six, “Six’s Legacy” paints a more detailed picture of Six’s history than we were given in previous books – but not by much. We learn a little bit more about her childhood, as well as her relationship with her Cêpan, Katarina, and their capture and imprisonment in a Mogadorian mountain cave in West Virginia. Whereas I would’ve liked to be a party to Katarina’s stories of life on Lorien, the author doesn’t revisit these quieter scenes, instead focusing on conflicts and near-misses. Coming in at a mere 91 pages, I can’t say that I walked away with a greater understanding of Six as a person.

As with “Six’s Legacy,” Nine serves as the narrator of his own novella, “Nine’s Legacy.” When I mentioned that this anthology is best read last because it may change how you view certain (previously unsympathetic) characters, I was referring primarily to Nine. Though he appears cocky, reckless, and self-absorbed in The Power of Six and The Rise of Nine, Nine starts off as a rather likable guy – teenage male bravado aside. It’s only after a friend’s betrayal leads to his capture and the murder of his Cêpan that Nine develops a thick shell of indifference and an unquenchable, unyielding desire for revenge.

“The Fallen Legacies” is perhaps the most interesting of the three. Unlike the other novellas, this story isn’t told by a member of the Garde (namely, Numbers One, Two, and/or Three – the “fallen legacies” alluded to in the title), but by a young Mogadorian. As the son of a high-ranking Mogadorian General, Adamus “Adam” Sutekh is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps: become an obedient, unquestioning soldier for the cause and, one day, a Mog ruler on Earth. Hiding in plain sight in a Mogadorian enclave on Earth (read: an exclusive gated community outside of Washington, DC), he’s a witness to the deaths of One, Two, and Three, with varying degrees of involvement. In many ways, these events are milestones in Adam’s life, markers on his road to adulthood.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Power of Six, Pittacus Lore (2012)

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Eh.

three out of five stars

* Warning: moderate spoilers follow! *

Having recently read – and thoroughly enjoyedI Am Number Four, I promptly ordered the three other books in the Lorien Legacies series (The Power of Six, The Rise of Nine, and The Lost Files). Much to my disappointment, The Power of Six proved underwhelming at best.

Book #2 in the Lorien Legacies picks up where I Am Number Four left off. It’s several weeks after the epic showdown at the high school. John, Sam, and Six are in hiding and on the run from both the US authorities (which has labeled them terrorists) and the Mogadorians. They flee, they fight; they flee and fight some more. They hide and train. After learning that Sam’s father was an ally to the Garde – and may have stashed valuable information and supplies in an underground bunker – they return to Paradise, Ohio, to retrieve the goods. Unsurprisingly, both the FBI and the “Mogs” discover them; after another skirmish, during which John loses his Chest to the Mogadorian soldiers, John and Sam are apprehended by the police and jailed. Another skirmish, this time with the Mogs laying siege to the police department. After escaping, John and Sam separate from Six in order to retrieve his Chest – most likely stashed in Mog HQ in a West Virginian cave – while Six travels to Spain to help who she suspects is another member of the Garde, under attack from the Mogs. (Now that John and Six have hooked up, the charm is broken.) In the process, John loses Sam but finds and rescues Nine – and Six comes to the aid of Seven, now short a Cêpan.

And…that’s about it. I’ve never had so little trouble summing up a book’s plot before!

The “teaser” chapters included I Am Number Four hinted that the story’s narrator might change – from John to Number Seven, otherwise known as Marina. In hiding in a convent in Spain, Marina’s Cêpan has long since abandoned her duties, succumbing instead to the certainty and comfort provided by devout religion. Holding out hope that the Garde will one day reunite, Marina scans the news for any signs of her fellow Loriens – including John Smith. This is how we meet her: a lonely, forsaken young girl, just coming into her abilities, trying to connect with her brethren. Though they share much in common, Marina’s journey has been vastly different from that of John Smith. Through her eyes, a fresh perspective; her words offer a new story.

Alas, only half of The Power of Six is narrated by Marina. The voices alternate between John’s and Seven’s, sometimes changing chapter by chapter, other times more quickly, usually to impart a sense of urgency. This was a rather disappointing surprise (though not altogether unexpected), as I was looking forward to a new storyteller – perhaps with a slightly different tale to tell, and from a female perspective, at that. I think one could argue that allowing a different member of the Garde to narrate each successive book in the series is an interesting, fresh, engaging strategy. We already know John Smith’s story; why not let Six or Seven pick up the torch?

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: I Am Number Four, Pittacus Lore (2010)

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Four stars for I Am Number Four

four out of five stars

Not so much a review as a random collection of thoughts, but you get the idea!

  • The basic premise of the Lorien Legacies series is this: we are not alone. Besides Earth, multiple planets capable of sustaining life exist in the universe. Among these are Lorien and Mogadore, whose contrasting pasts and presents reflect two possible futures for Earth.

    Much like Earth today, in its early history Lorien was faced with ecological collapse. Caused by greed and fueled by rapid technological advancements, the Loric people were quickly depleting their planet’s resources, driving it ever closer to ruin. Rather than continue on this self-destructive path, the Loriens chose another way: they simplified their society, living sustainably and in harmony with nature. (Just what this entails isn’t clear. For example, there’s no indication that the Loriens are/were vegans, nor do they seem to have renounced their “ownership” of nonhuman animals.)

    In thanks, the planet endowed the Loriens with special gifts. While all Loriens are stronger, faster, and more powerful than the average human, roughly half of the population have additional, supernatural abilities: Telekinesis. The ability to control the elements. Invisibility. The gift of flight. Imperviousness to fire. They are members of the Garde, the superhuman – or rather super-Lorien – protectors of the planet. Behind the scenes, the Cêpan manage the society and act as mentors to young Gardes who are just discovering their Legacies. At the time of our hereos’ births, Lorien is a veritable Eden, with everyone coexisting in peace and harmony.

    Mogadore offers a terrifying glimpse of the road not taken by Lorien. Faced with a similar fate, the Mogadorians deplete their planet’s resources, turning it into a barren hellscape – and then set out to conquer other planets and plunder their resources as well. The first of these is Lorien, which is caught with its guard down and is taken easily. Save for a lucky few, all of the Loric people are slaughtered. Lorien is laid to waste.

    Obvious moral is obvious, though no less true. We are at a crossroads; will we emulate the peaceable Lorien, or – be it through, antipathy, stubbornness, or privilege – go the way of Mogadore? Human history, rife as it is with genocide, colonization, slavery, and wars of convenience, does not speak well of us.

    (More below the fold…)

  • Book Review: Good Bones and Simple Murders, Margaret Atwood (1994)

    Monday, May 7th, 2012

    2012-04-26 - Good Bones & Simple Murders - 0003

    Look who dropped in during my reading of “Cold-Blooded”!
    ——————————

    “The good bones are in here.”

    four out of five stars

    I snagged a used copy of Good Bones and Simple Murders (Margaret Atwood, 1994) on Amazon, whilst shopping around for some of Atwood’s older novels. A slim collection of short stories and poetry, Good Bones is an eclectic mix, with illustrations by the author peppered throughout. The stories cover a little bit of everything: fantasy, mystery, science fiction, speculative fiction, feminism, rape culture, gender wars, dating, death – you name it.

    Many of the pieces are hit and miss; my favorites are the scifi stories that hinge on an environmental or animal-friendly theme:

    – “Cold-Blooded” – An alien race of matriarchal moth people visit planet earth – or as they call it, “The Planet of the Moths,” a nickname owing to the fact that their moth cousins outnumber us by billions – and find humans sorely lacking in both culture and intelligence;

    2012-04-26 - Good Bones & Simple Murders - 0008

    “To my sisters, the Iridescent Ones, the Egg-Bearers, the Many-Faceted, greetings from the Planet of the Moths.” A page from “Cold-Blooded,” which also appears in In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011).
    ——————————

    – “My Life As a Bat” – A series of reflections on the narrator’s past life as a bat, including a disturbing (and, as it just so happens, true) anecdote about WWII-era experiments in which bats were made into unwitting suicide bombers;

    – “Hardball” – A piece of dystopian speculative fiction in which humans, having decimated their environment, have retreated to live under a giant dome. Since space is limited, the population must be kept in check: for every birth, one person is chosen to die via a lottery. Care to guess what becomes of the remains?

    Also enjoyable are those stories which reimagine classic literature: “Gertrude Talks Back” gives voice to Hamlet’s long-suffering mother, and “Unpopular Gals” and “Let Us Now Praise Stupid Women” celebrates those villains and “airheads” without which fairy tales would not exist.

    2012-04-26 - Good Bones & Simple Murders - 0012

    “He’s a carnivore, you’re a vegetarian. That’s what you have to get over.”
    – page 84, “Liking Men”
    ——————————

    While at times difficult to read, “Liking Men” is another standout; this is the piece that deals with sexual assault, vis à vis a woman’s journey back to coping with – and even loving – men (or rather, one man in particular) again after her rape.

    A must for fans of Margaret Atwood!

    (Is there a nickname for us, like HDM’s Sraffies? Atwolytes, maybe? Mad Adams and Angry Eves?)

    PS – Dear Margaret: Fishes are indeed animals.

    2012-04-26 - Good Bones & Simple Murders - 0020

    “My eyes are situated in my head, which also possesses two small holes for the entrance and exit of air, the invisible fluid we swim in, and one larger hole, equipped with bony protuberances called teeth, by means of which I destroy and assimilate certain parts of my surroundings and change them into my self. This is called eating. The things I eat include roots, berries, nuts, fruits, leaves, and the muscle tissues of various animals and fish. Sometimes I eat their brains and glands as well. I do not as a rule eat insects, grubs, eyeballs, or the snouts of pigs [what, no hotdogs? – ed.], though these are eaten with relish in other countries.” – page 133, “Homelanding”
    ——————————

    Can we please stop pretending otherwise? xoxo – A vegan feminist fan.

    (Crossposted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote me helpful if you think it so!)

    …greetings from the Planet of Moths.

    Sunday, February 12th, 2012

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    A(nother) page from Margaret Atwood’s In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011).

    excerpted from the short story “Cold-Blooded.”

    To my sisters, the Iridescent Ones, the Egg-Bearers, the Many-Faceted, greetings from the Planet of Moths.

    At last we have succeeded in establishing contact with the creatures here who, in their ability to communicate, to live in colonies, and to construct technologies, most resemble us, although in these particulars they have not advanced beyond a rudimentary level.

    During our first observation of these “blood creatures,” as we have termed them – after the colourful red liquid that is to be found in their bodies, and that appears to be of great significance to them in their poems, wars, and religious rituals – we supposed them incapable of speech, as those specimens we were able to examine entirely lacked the organs for it. They had no wing-casings with which to stridulate – indeed they had no wings; they had to mandibles to click; and the chemical method was unknown to them, since they were devoid of antennae. “Smell,” for them, is a perfunctory affair, confined to a flattened and numbed appendage on the front of the head. But after a time, we discovered that the incoherent squeakings and gruntings that emerged from them, especially when pinched, were in fact a form of language, and after that we made rapid progress.

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 8: White Blood, Wild Things & District 9

    Monday, September 28th, 2009

    null

    Yikes! It’s been way too long since my last intersectionality link roundup and, as a result, I’ve managed to stockpile a ridiculous number of links – all without keeping current, naturally. Here’s the first batch; look for the second (or ninth, rather) installment later this week.

    Making Hay: Animal Rights Is a Universal Issue

    Farm Sanctuary’s Jasmin Singer recently traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, in order to attend the South African Law Review Consultation Workshop, organized by Animal Rights Africa (ARA) “for the purpose of initiating a transparent public process of South African animal protection legislation review.” Here, she shares her experiences and offers a little background on ARA.

    You can find out more about Animal Rights Africa’s work – and what you can do to help – on their website at http://www.animalrightsafrica.org.

    VegNews: Backstage Pass: Erykah Badu

    Via BlackVegan, a short-but-sweet interview with vegan singer/songwriter Erykah Badu, my favorite exchange of which is this:

    VN: Is vegan food the new soul food?

    EB: Vegan food is soul food in its truest form. Soul food means to feed the soul. And, to me, your soul is your intent. If your intent is pure, you are pure.

    Racialicious: An Interview with Bryant Terry on Race, Class, Food, and Culture – Part 1

    Speaking of soul food, Racialicious recently featured a lengthy interview with Bryant Terry, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen.

    A snippet:

    One of the biggest things I uncovered in my work, especially working with young people in New York City through the organization I founded called B-healthy, is that a lot of people living in low income areas and urban areas are living in what are known as food deserts. They have very little access to fresh food – healthy, local, sustainable, all that – and have an overabundance of the worst foods, the fried things, the packaged fast food that has a negative impact on their overall health. Lack of access to healthy food is a huge issue, and it’s only one indicator of material deprivation these people are living with. In these neighborhoods, I visited, it wasn’t as if they just lacked access to healthy food and everything else was great. Usually it would be failing infrastructure, dilapidated schools, high levels of illiteracy, low income. So I think it is one issue that has to be addressed of many among these people living in these historically excluded communities are dealing with.

    “Part 1” seems to imply that there’s a “Part 2” in the works – indeed, the interview ends with a promise of more to come – but a Google search has yet to reveal a follow-up.

    (More below the fold…)

    An otherworldly thought experiment.

    Sunday, May 24th, 2009

    This first video clip isn’t really related to animal advocacy, but it’s a nice setup for today’s thought experiment (and also echoes some of the sentiments found in “They’re Made Out of Meat“).

    On Wednesday’s episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen interviewed astronomer and alien “hunter” Seth Shostak. During the course of the conversation, the two discuss the likelihood that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, speculate what form this life may take – and wonder whether these Others might be more evolved/advanced/sophisticated than humankind.
     

     
    Which brings us to the aforementioned thought experiment: What if powerful aliens wanted to “serve man”?*
     


     
    Via YouTube user BlackGuitar1313 (and discovered while searching for a full-length video of the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man,” natch.)

    (More below the fold…)

    They’re made out of…meat.

    Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

    Mylène @ My Face Is On Fire recently wrote about scifi author Terry Bisson’s 1991 short story “They’re Made Out of Meat,” which she noted, “provides an interesting twist on how most humans view animals.”

    Wiki’s entry is on the story is rather short (but then, so’s the story!) – and contains spoilers – so if you’d rather be surprised, skip right on down to the video and press play before reading further. The running time is 7 1/2 minutes, but it’s worth every second.

    They’re Made Out of Meat is a Nebula Award-nominated short story by Terry Bisson. It was originally published in OMNI. It consists entirely of dialogue between two characters, and Bisson’s website hosts a theatrical adaptation. A film adaptation won the Grand Prize at the Seattle Science Fiction Museum’s 2006 film festival.

    (The aforementioned award-winning short is what I’ve embedded below.)

    The two characters are sentient beings capable of traveling faster than light, on a mission to “contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe.” Bisson’s stage directions represent them as “two lights moving like fireflies among the stars” on a projection screen. They converse briefly on their bizarre discovery of carbon-based life, which they refer to incredulously as “thinking meat.” They agree to “erase the records and forget the whole thing,” marking the Solar System “unoccupied.”

    Interestingly, the only link listed under “See also” is “Carbon chauvinism“:

    Carbon chauvinism is a relatively new term meant to disparage the assumption that extraterrestrial life will resemble life on Earth. In particular, it would be applied to those who assume that the molecules responsible for the chemical processes of life must be constructed primarily from carbon. It suggests that, as carbon-based life forms who have never encountered any life that has evolved outside the earth’s environment, human beings may find it difficult to envision radically different biochemistries. The term was used as early as 1973, when Carl Sagan described it and other human chauvinisms that limit imagination of possible extraterrestrial life in his Cosmic Connection.

    From there, you can go to “Anthropocentrism,” “Chauvinism,” “Chemical evolution,” “Carbon-based life,” and “They’re Made Out of Meat.”

    I always found our humanoid conceptions of aliens life forms to be unreal and egotistical, but never considered it a form of prejudice. But yeah, “carbon chauvinism” (carbonism?) sounds about right. How fitting, then, that “anthropocentrism” (which links to “speciesism”) is referenced in the entry.

    Anyhow, this short adaptation of “They’re Made Out of Meat” is really well done, and – if you’re so predisposed (read: intellectually honest) – the themes can equally be applied to our treatment of non-human animals.

    See also: Damon Knight’s “To Serve Man.”
     


     
    If you can’t view the video above – or, if you can but would like to read the story as well – it’s available in multiple places online; Google “They’re Made Out of Meat” or try this link, for starters.

    Many thanks to Mylène for the video!

    (More below the fold…)

    Truth in Advertising: HUMANS ARE AMONG US!

    Thursday, February 19th, 2009

    This series of retro ’50s monster movie poster adverts for the SciFi Channel has little to do with animal advocacy – but why let a lil’ thing like that stop me from putting an animal-friendly spin on ’em?

    Each “poster” depicts an iconic movie monster recoiling in horror as a human invades his space:

    Sci Fi Channel - The Thing

    (More below the fold…)

    Book Review: Alien Woman: The Making of Lt. Ellen Ripley, Ximena Gallardo C. and C. Jason Smith (2006)

    Monday, December 1st, 2008

    “The Making of Lt. Ellen Ripley”

    five out of five stars

    In ALIEN WOMAN, authors and pop culture critics Ximena Gallardo-C. and C. Jason Smith examine “The Making of Lt. Ellen Ripley” – a process which is both informed by and reflects the differing sociopolitical landscapes present during the creation of the respective installations of the quadrilogy. While the first ALIEN film was a radical (perhaps even feminist) reimagining of the slasher/horror genre, ALIENS represented a return to retro Reagen-era “family” values. ALIENS 3 joined the “hero” and the “monstrous creature,” and allowed Ripley to subvert the patriarchy by destroying both herself and the alien; ALIEN: RESURRECTION went a step further, creating a sisterhood of two non-human females (alien-human hybrid Ripley and second-gen android Call), which represents the future of humanity – humane, if not necessarily human.

    Whether you love the ALIEN quadrilogy, yearn for more feminist fare, or simply enjoy watching strong heroines kick serious arse, ALIEN WOMAN is a must-read for pop culture junkies of all stripes. A background in cultural studies is a plus, but not a prerequisite; though psychoanalytic concepts such as the “monstrous feminine,” the “womb-tomb,” and the “monstrous generative mother” figure heavily into the discussion, the authors gradually unpack their thesis, piece by piece, resulting in an accessible, highly enjoyable volume. ALIEN WOMAN is the rare scholarly work that’s suitable for laypeople and post-grads alike.

    As a longtime fan of the ALIEN series, now that I’ve read ALIEN WOMAN, I’m eager to re-experience the films through fresh eyes. I don’t think I’ll view Ripley’s probing of Call’s bullet wound the same way again.

    (This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)