Is Joss Whedon the coolest nerd ever?

Buffy the vampire slayer, season eight

I get a little excited whenever the library gets in a new Joss Whedon-related title.  New to the catalogue (not yet available so get your reserves on now) is MySpace Dark Horse Presents, a cool little mixed bag of tales from established comic artists and writers including Whedon, Mike Mignola, and Fabio Moon.  I cannot claim anything approaching objectivity when it comes to Whedon’s work as I freely admit to an enduring love of everything that he has ever done, touched, or let’s face it, glanced askance at.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly…it’s all good.  But fans of Whedon’s televisual back catalogue may not be aware of his comic book work.

One of the great things about the medium is it can give the author an opportunity to carry on, or flesh out stories that were begun in the television show without having to get studio buy-in or gather the actors together again.  So if you want to know what happened to Whedon’s characters after the final episode, then you’re in luck.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly all have follow-up comic stories penned by Whedon (in particular the Firefly book fills in the gap between the end of the TV series and the beginning of the feature film Serenity) and what kind of a library would we be if we didn’t have those in our catalogue?  Well, no kind of library at all, I reckon.

Serenity. Those left behind

Fans might also be interested in this Bfm interview with Whedon. It’s from last year (so it’s not brand-spanking new) and it’s a meaty 20 minutes long, but it’s fascinating.  In the interview Whedon discusses all sorts of things about being a writer and the challenges of working within a studio system.  He also talks about the lack of strong female characters in films and his desire to offset that with the “super” capable women he creates. 

He considers his work as “feminist” but admits to “gussying it up with fun” because “People don’t like bald statements.  They like statements with lots of hair on them…”  And you thought it was all about killing monsters, and lip gloss.  For shame. 

Oh, and he also uses words like “trope” and “ossified” which makes him a total word nerd in my book but still one of the coolest writer/directors in Hollywood.

More Chinese writers

Qiu Xiaolong
When red is black

Along with watching the Olympic games I too have been enjoying reading some Chinese literature, albeit less weighty than others: Qiu Xiaolong’s latest Inspector Chen novel Red Mandarin Dress. Chen Cao belongs two well-known detective traditions – the (for Westerners) exotic location detective, think H F Keating, Colin Cotterill, Alexander McCall Smith and many others, and the author-detective, e.g. P. D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh.

Chen combines his work as an inspector with the Shangahai police with his literary career as a leading young poet and the worlds often collide. But Chen is a survivor, both as poet and cop, helped of course by a loyal side-kick Detective Yu and Yu’s enterprising wife Peng. One of the pleasures of these books is the quotations and poems from classical Chinese literature, which often provide Chen with the insight to solve the case.

There are several other detective writers who set their works in China, Robert van Gulik (does anyone read him any more?), Christopher West, Eliot Pattison, but unlike them the author is himself Chinese although he has lived in the USA since 1988.

Qiu Xiaolong doesn’t hesitate to describe the less savoury aspects of Chinese crime and politics (not to mention food preparation) and it is difficult for an outsider to judge how true his portrait of modern Chinese society is. There is an interview with him at http://www.mysteryreaders.org/athomeqiu.html.

Saturday 23 August -Read while you wait, Digital Day and Craft2.0

I’ve got a friend who always has a good book in her bag – no moment is wasted when you’re waiting and you’ve got something fun to read. The Read While Waiting project comes out of the Random Alphabets group in Malaysia. This Saturday they are hoping to start a world wide movement – encouraging people to read while they wait – for a bus, a coffee even. Paul Reynolds, commentator extraordinaire, has blogged about this project. Word is that Cathedral Square at 3pm could be the place for Christchurch people to join in.
On Saturday you might also want to drop into the Central Library for Digital Day 10:00am-4:00pm.As part of Library Week 2008, come along to find out how to get the most from our free digital library:

  • get set up to access your library account online
  • access premium websites, free only to library members
  • explore our unique content and resources
  • read your favourite world newspaper online
  • listen to thousands of music tracks online

And if you are of a crafty frame of mind, pop down to  Craft 2.0 at Our City O-Tautahi. It’s an indie craft fair featuring the best and brightest of the New Zealand craft scene. You’ll find  handbags, jewellery, baby gifts and paper products, clothing and housewares, one-of-a-kind plushies and original artwork. It runs from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

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