Tag Archives: time travel

Review: Sex Criminals

Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick  (Sex Criminals #1-5)Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funny. Poignant. Beautiful. Oh, and it has sex in it.

It’s pretty rare that my fiance reads a book then says, “OMG, you HAVE to read this.” So it was a big deal. And I devoured it. This comic is gorgeous and probably deserves the “Comic of the Year” banner the New York Times gave it (though Saga, Volume 1 really can’t be forgotten).

This comic answers a question everyone has asked themselves at some point: “If I could freeze time everytime I had an orgasm, what would I do?”

…Of course everyone has asked that question.

For Suzie and Jon, the answers vary, but when they meet and discover they aren’t alone in this crazy ability, they decide–of course–to rob a bank.

In other words, Sex Criminals is a totally run-of-the-mill story.

Just kidding. It’s irreverent, but it’s also fairly deep. (Spoilers to follow, but really you should read this comic anyway and most of this stuff is introduced right away.)

When Suzie’s dad is killed in an act of random violence when she is 10, she struggles to cope. Her mom is barely holding herself together, and Suzie is left to process it all on her own. She finds solace in the quiet of the bathtub, where the running water can erase sound and leave her to just “be.” Except…the water under the tap feels [em]really good[/em]…and time stops.

Suzie struggles to figure out puberty and this ability (can everyone do this? Why don’t any of the books explain this!?) all alone, and uses what she calls “The Quiet” (this time-frozen thing) to work out her feelings. She grows into a smart girl who loves libraries, and is desperate to save her local library, even if it means buying up every book, one at a time.

That’s how she meets Jon. They have an instant connection; even reading about it feels like reliving the Best First Date Ever. And then, when they have sex… woah. They discover, finally, they aren’t alone in this ability. And then they hatch a plan.

Can I just stop for a minute and talk about the art? Man, this kind of book is why comics/graphic novels need to exist. You just couldn’t get the same effect in reading about how Suzie’s elementary classroom had a motivational poster that says “Reading is Sexy” and get the same kind of laugh I did when I noticed the derpy frog poster in the background of an otherwise tragic scene. There are visual clues like that everywhere, and it is just …amazing. And Suzie and Jon look like real people. Praise be to Chip Zdarksy for drawing a woman with kick-ass HUMAN proportions! It’s so refreshing.

And then there’s the colors! You’ll just have to see it to know what I mean, but The Quiet is really transcendental art. It’s gorgeous.

Sex Criminals is definitely a book for an adult…well… it might also be a book for a teenager who is still figuring out that whole sexuality thing, though the cover alone might freak out the parental types. While sex is important to the story, it is always tasteful and the art is never more than PG-13, though the brash and totally careless way the characters talk about sex is definitely going to be a turnoff for some readers (don’t worry; the sex acts described in the high school are all made up. I think.).

This really a science-fiction/Bonnie-and-Clyde/coming-of-age book and … it’s just great. True, author Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarksky may have come up with the concept as a way to tell as many sex jokes as possible, but I can’t blame them for that, and I can’t wait to read more. And see more.

(This book only got 4 stars because I think the pacing may be a little uneven. We’ll see. There was one section that, while still pretty to look at and which gave me a giggle, made me really glad we bought the volume rather than the individual comics. That story was…a tad thin.)

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Review: Fortunately, The Milk

Fortunately, the MilkFortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bring a smile to your face, and go buy Fortunately, The Milk. This is a book that EVERYONE needs to enjoy. It is delightful, in every sense of the word.

Fortunately, The Milk is ostensibly a children’s book, in the same vein as Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book or anything from Doctor Seuss. It would be good to think of it as the best combinations of both these literary gems. Not quite a chapter book but longer than a picture book, the hardcover edition has images on nearly every page, seamlessly interwoven with Neil Gaiman’s text. You’ll want to read it aloud; you’ll pore over every beautiful scribble by Eisner-winning artist Skottie Young**; you’ll laugh at the absurdity; you’ll ponder the ending with reverence.

This book is pure distilled happiness, and you need to have it.

I had the privilege of hearing Neil read from Fortunately, The Milk when it was still a twinkle in his publisher’s eye, at the book tour for The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Sure, everyone, reader and critic alike, is fawning over Ocean, but my favorite part was definitely Fortunately. It was just so fun.

It is a book that exalts fathers, and children, and, most of all, vibrant imaginations. The premise is sacchrine-simple: A family runs out of milk just before breakfast, and father goes to get some. He is gone what seems like an awfully long time. When he gets back, his hungry children wonder where he has been, so he answers them. The story involves pirates, piranhas, time-travel (someone is a Doctor Who fan, for sure!), a volcano god, the invention of the button, aliens, and more, because I’m probably forgetting someone or something.

You won’t be able to look at your everyday errands the same way.

Buy this book, then snuggle up to your kids (or your special friend, or your sweetest pet, or even just a really cozy blankie), and read. Make sure you do all the voices; that’s the way it really should be done.

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**This is amazing, but I have gotten to meet both Skottie and Neil. Neil at the aforementioned book tour, and Skottie at ComicCon, the day he won the Eisner. So wonderful, both of them!

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Time Travel Challenge: History for the Ages

My flash fiction contribution to the Time Travel Challenge, inspired in part by Ask A Slave by Azie Dungey. (Good videos if you like history.) I’m not in love with the story, but it’ll suffice. May keep tooling on it.


History for the Ages

It’s lonely, being a Historian. They made it sound so much more exciting when we signed up for the program. We would be adventurers, of the best sort, not discovering new worlds but conquering past times. We would bring Knowledge, capture it for the next eons to enjoy. We were heroes, or so they told us. The International Library actually had to turn candidates away, if you can believe it.

Despite the trainings, nothing prepared me for this. Not really.

But I was here, now, so there wasn’t much choice—I couldn’t go back home until my year was up. My intrachronometer wouldn’t activate until then, anyway. I might as well do my job.

I sighed and picked up the sack I’d brought with me, muttering to myself about my damned Locator. I was supposed to have been dropped just outside of the town, but it didn’t look like there was anyone nearby. There were so many trees, so incredibly many. I’d seen one in the Museum, of course, but I had no idea they were like this.

Everything was so green. I felt another pang for home.

Though it had seemed foolish at the time, now I was grateful for those trainings in Era-Appropriate Clothing. I still hated the skirt, of course, the drab dirty thing I’d ported in, but at least now I knew how to walk in it, thighs slightly apart so they didn’t rub. So different from the comfortable slacks at home.

I crested a small hill and saw, in the distance, a grand white plantation home. I started toward it, suddenly excited. My first interaction with my subjects! I tried to remember what to say, what the culturally appropriate language, behavior, for a dark-skinned female in this era was.

I’d been specially selected for this assignment, they’d said. After I’d passed all the requisite tests, ensured that I was compatible for time travel and the demands of the job, been thoroughly taught how to create accurate notations of my time period and experiences, I had waited for my era. Based on the scant information the Librarians had on the era, it was decided that I should go infiltrate Revolutionary America, that my attributes and skills made me a great fit for the task.

Don’t forget, they had excellent marketers. That’s how I signed up to be a household slave in 1795.

The philosophy went like this: As Historians, it is our duty to stay out of the activities of those we are studying. Much like anthropology, the ancient study of other cultures, Historians must live in the populations, but not be of them. It would not do for us to actually affect history! (And there would be serious consequences if we tried!)

So Historians always have out-of-the-way cover stories. I overheard the Librarians talking once: their favorite timelines for Historians in America were colonial eras and the four decades post-1985. The slaves and poor commoners of the colonial era and the skyscraper production methods of these times made them easy to infiltrate.

I hadn’t walked too far before I had to fall back on my training. A handsome man working in a field stopped and stared at me as I walked by. I glanced at him, but bowed my head away like I’d been taught—women in these days weren’t typically seen alone. Pretend shyness, particularly around males.

The man called out to a colleague, and word of my approach beat me to my destination. I nearly climbed the porch, but remembered myself just in time and turned to go around the back. There was a woman there, evidently waiting for me.

“Excuse me,” I said, hoping my accent-work was passable, “I’m lookin’ for a job, ma’am. Do ya have any need for a maid, perhaps?” I was particularly proud of the ‘perhaps.’ My Languages instructor would be proud.

The woman looked me up and down sternly. She looked like a tough nut to crack. She crossed her arms over her chest and said, “Possibly.”

I ran through the backstory I’d been given, explaining that I’d be happy to join the household and work hard if only they’d take me, that my prior master had died suddenly and left me without work.

She didn’t seem to believe me, but eventually agreed to let me stay on “for now.”

Success. I’d infiltrated Mount Vernon. Now I could really get to work.

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Time Travel Challenge: “On The Road”

Wow! My time travel challenge was answered very quickly already. Here’s a post from mishaburnett: “On The Road.”

Stacie stopped for gas at a station on Route 66, just outside of Vinita, Oklahoma. It was 1964, and the air smelled like November. By reflex Stacie checked herself over—black skirt, white blouse, white knee socks, black shoes—timeless. In a pinch she could wear it at her destination, but she’d planned on changing somewhere on the road.

She opened the glovebox—heavily reinforced and equipped with a thumprint lock that the Ford Motor company never imagined—and sorted through an envelope of bills, selecting a ten with the date of 1958. That would more than cover a tank of gas.

Her car was a 1953 Ford Crestline, the Sunliner hardtop. The exterior was perfect, but a look at the motor would have shocked the attendant who came up to her window—if he had been able to open the hood without triggering the high voltage alarm system.

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September 11, 2013 · 10:32 am

Time Travel: Sorry, No Girls Allowed

The Guardian (among others) raised a fantastic point recently: females who travel through time are practically non-existent.

I think time-travel is one of those really awesome science fiction concepts that can range so delightfully from glorious cheesiness to romantic to heart-pounding. It’s a genre I enjoy. But I realized…they’re right.

The time travelers/time travel media I could name:

  • H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine
  • Doctor Who (twelve incarnations, all presenting as male)
  • Marty McFly (Back to the Future)
  • Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko* (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  • The Kid in King Arthur’s Court
  • Looper
  • Hot Tub Time Machine
  • Kate and Leopold
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife (I don’t know if I’ve actually seen this or just saw the trailers…)
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures  (Be Awesome to One Another)
  • Terminator
  • Groundhog Day (I don’t know that it’s technically time travel though)
  • 13 Going on 30
  • Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Props to you, Hermione, as a main-screen female time traveler. And why did you travel through time? More time to do homework, of course!

Out of that whole list, only 13 Going on 30 and Harry Potter have ladies. And I don’t really think 13 Going on 30 should even count, because she doesn’t just time travel, she also inhabits an older hot-bod version of herself.

That means the only time-traveling lady I can think of is Hermione Granger. And, let it be noted, unlike a lot of the guys who are motivated to time travel by wanting to get a girl, Hermione is into time travel so she can study. Like a boss.

That’s a pretty sad list. Why aren’t women given the chance to travel through time? Is it the cultural notion that explorer = male? In other words, we’re sending men to travel through time because they’re the hunters?

Well that sucks.

It is in this spirit that I issue a challenge: Write a time travel short story in which the lead is female.

That’s it. Take her wherever you like. Explore new worlds and the same world but in different times. Make her good, make her bad, make her lovesick, make her vengeful, make her confused. I don’t care! Just make her!

Leave a comment here when you’ve written one to let me know!

*Granted, I do know that time travel as a concept occurs fairly frequently in Star Trek, in several of the movies and shows. And I think I’ve seen every episode of the original, TNG and Voyager. But the only times it seemed really significant were the Tribble episode of Deep Space Nine (Sisko), Star Trek Generations (Picard), and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Kirk). And it’s the menfolk who are the focus of all those episodes.


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