SIXTY SIX by Molina & Sta Maria

I was like a fish at the end of a hook when I saw Whilce Portacio's back cover blurb heralding the "polished full package" of this adult Filipino comic book.

I agree with the quality layouts and the well-crafted dialogue but the reason and origin behind the main character's "gift" of  superhuman abilities on his 66th birthday really needs an explanation or at least a clue to be counted as a sound sci fi story. If I try to look at it as an Urban Fantasy, I am inclined to think that Celestino Cabal was just imagining things starting on the eve of his birthday and will probably wake up from the heartbreaking ending of Kabanata 4.

I like the Filipino urban setting that is very realistic. I like Sta Maria's style of illustration as we saw in his previous collaboration work Skyworld. The sidekick here is at least smart and the story in general is emotionally engaging but still it doesn't perfectly feel like a complete one shot, full story-in-one-book as I expected. I thought I was missing some pages before the final scene. I just hope that Kabanata 5 (or more) is out there somewhere, waiting to be told because the story that runs through Kabanata 1-4 needs a resolution.

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Pinoy Superhero
Rating: 3.5 slices of birthday cake


Michael Punke's The Revenant

I was expecting an explosive slam-bang ending but the epigraph (Romans 12:19) stated it clearly albeit differently. It's basically a revenge story with a surprising kill-joy ending, but the commendable quality of this novel by Michael Punke hinges on the realistic and brutal depiction of a frontier life ever since the historical adventures of Lewis and Clarke. If you love scouting and surviving the outdoor life mostly within the winter-spring seasons, you will enjoy this book.

The reader may be treated with a story of one man's obsession for vengeance, but the author's effort in searching historical documents about the life of Hugh Glass and the history of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company while infusing them with legend aptly defined the novel. What stood out here is the balance between fact and fiction, history and legend.

Passing that balance category probably made the novel also pass the threshold of a film material, as the movie adaptation will be released by December this year with the main hero Hugh Glass being portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. The ending may be different from the novel and I'm looking forward to it.

Category: Historical Fiction, Survival, Action, Adventure
Rating: 3-foot hunting rifle


Adam David's The El Bimbo Variations

Ang Huling El Bimbo unarguably is Eraserheads' most popular heartbroken song. It is the anthem of a generation, the nostalgic Pinoy Gen X and Gen Y (Basti Artadi practically described them as teenyboppers) demographic. It's easy to see that Adam David belonged in that group and using Queneau and le Lionnais' Oulipo system as his weapon-of-choice, the author here executed a well-planned literary "heist" and ran away unscathed making us readers asking out for more deconstruction+reform, and more fun. I am actually asking  for a Shake Yer Head Variations as a sequel. I think it's more fun.

The rule of the game looks simple: focus on the first line "Kamukha mo si Paraluman, nung tayo ay bata pa" then deconstruct/revise/reform it using Oulipian constraints while anchored within the 90's Pinoy context to create a new piece of literature. Try it and you'll realize it's not so easy as it seems. At this instant I can only create a "Bullied & Spiteful Version" of it, in my own childhood context. It's far from being heartbroken literally: "Kamukha mo si Buaya, nung tayo ay bata pa..."

My most favorite constraints here are Dalit (for obvious reasons), Ad Copy, Spoonerisms, and Limerick. The end notes I think is the best and most important part of the book especially for readers with weak or zero literary background like me. I would have rated this book lower if there is no end note. Reading this without an end note is like a Martian trying to appreciate an abstract art by Henri Matisse. Adam David describes the Oulipian technique of writing constraints as a marriage of mathematics and literature. The product of that technique is this book. And since the author promotes it freely from its first public release in 2005, you can download a copy here thanks to Cloudup.

Category: Poetry
Rating: 3.5 cuts of Goat Placenta soap


Walking in for Windows 10, with caution

The availability of downloading Windows 10 OS is just a sleep away in the Pacific region. But before installing the supposedly "final" Windows OS this week, I have to keep reminding myself to finish the backing up procedures (restore disc+ system image file+ personal data backup) before testing the waters. And I have to keep reminding myself that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Free bug, yes. But NO free lunch.