Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci

Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci

Off to a running start, Michael Moreci's debut novel Black Star Renegades opens with young provincial nobody Luke Skywalker, whose backwater planet Tatooine is in the grip of the evil Empire. Despite Luke's humble origins, wise old Jedi Knight Ben Kenobi believes he's a figure chosen by destiny to wield an enormous power against the Empire. Ben Kenobi takes Skywalker into tutelage, but the two of them fall in with a group of rogues and scoundrels and droids, and their plans are almost derailed. Luke falls in love with a tough young woman who. . .

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Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

In the great hierarchy of book genres, the media tie-in novel occupies a tier decidedly close to the bottom: higher than coloring books or street maps, but lower than, say, Jesus, Life Coach. All the worse when the corporate property in question in DC Comics’ Batman, a character whose appeal (whether in the comic books of his origin or the movies and TV shows that followed) has always depended in no small measure on the striking imagery of visual media. Seen in the four-color panels of Detective Comics, a man leaping rooftops in a bat suit reaches heights of the sublime. Described in typeset prose, he seems merely ridiculous.

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The Twilight(ing) of the Superhero

The Twilight(ing) of the Superhero

The principle of sexual selection, wrote naturalist Charles Darwin, deals with “the advantage which certain individuals have over others of the same sex and species solely in respect of reproduction.” A peacock’s tail, its marvelous length and iridescence sculpted by female choice, is the iconic example. Beetle horns, the elaborate nests of bower birds, and even the human brain, engine of art, music and speech, further illustrate the power of a positive feedback loop. The more refined a trait, the better suited to attracting mates shall a specimen be. Life, when not about brute struggle, becomes both beauty pageant and talent show.

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Gordon's Alive!

Gordon's Alive!

Way back in the beneficent 1950s – in 1954, to be exact – there appeared on the metal spinner-rack of Trow's Paper Goods (in a sleepy little Iowa town with neither bookstore nor library) a slim thing of wonder: a new comic book called Jungle Action #1. For the asking price of 10 cents, the reader could thrill to the exploits of Leopard Girl, Jungle Boy, and an enormous and bad-tempered Gorilla named Man-oo the Mighty. But for the real connoisseur of jungle adventure, the star of the issue was a muscular young man named Lo-Zar, Lord of the Jungle.

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No Strange Quirk of Fate

No Strange Quirk of Fate

Time-lapse photography is a miraculous thing. Like a superpower, it changes our relationship to the mundane, revealing life lived at a different pace. Desolate winter, for example, can become lush spring in seconds. Likewise, a teenager can age one day a second for four years (her hair tossing as if in a storm, the minutia of her life cascading across her bedroom walls).

When lovingly executed, time-lapse footage haunts and inspires. Details blur to give us impossible perspectives. Grander patterns and unconventional theories surface in the mind. No matter the subject, we see reflected the familiar elements of life. But what dances before us does so with a strange life of its own.

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