Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mythspace Volume 1 by Paolo Chikiamco

Mythspace, Volume 1
With Mythspace, I can imagine reaching for the stars, while digging into my own Filipino roots.

Mythspace is not your typical Filipino graphic anthology. It presents 6 stories of a similarly connected vein, 6 stories that share the same kind of odd universe. This is a universe where kapres own starships, where manananggal can be among the most respected thieves, and where the dwende, tikbalang, and bakunawa have their own high places in the galaxy. Oh, and it mostly takes place in outer space, so there's that, too.

It sounds crazy, but the story-craters of this volume have delivered quite an experience. Not only did I look at alien tech and different planets through their eyes, but I was also brought back to the stories of old that my own generation has now forgotten. They were able to mesh well old mythological creatures with their possible intergalactic personas, highlighting their old strengths while giving them powers that suit their personalities.

Moreover, the stories themselves are rich with detail and thoughtfulness. These are stories not just of glorified heroes and weird plots, but also of poverty, of longing, of strength, and of character. Their mythological/sci-fi backdrop is merely a vehicle for them to portray complex stories that can be funny, sad, or even surprisingly real, but they all do have heart.

So read Mythspace to find out about daring adventures and curious tales. They may touch you, interest you, and surprise you in the most unexpected ways. After all, this is space opera, Pinoy style.

Mythspace, Volume 1 by Paolo Chikiamco
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

While this book may seem to be about the (mis)adventures of Yossarian, a soldier who lives with a dead man in his tent, this actually is a snarky look into the ugly, enterprising world behind glorified military lines, with the one main catch that rules over it: Catch-22.

(That catch is, in itself, a curious and contradictory one, but it's one that makes sure that Yossarian, just when he thinks he's about to go home, finds out that he has to go back to flying his jets once more. This may seem the major focal point in this novel.)

It deals with soldiers who go to the hospital as frequently as they can to avoid going to battle. It tells us of commercial exploits happening with government funds in the hands of war-made entrepreneurs. It introduces us to the women (read: whores) the men flirt and fall in love with. It describes to us, in anecdote after anecdote, of the people who supposedly fight for the country, but actually end up tinkering with stoves, writing the same letters of grief, and applying fake signatures to official documents out of sheer boredom.

While all of these glimpses may have been magnified to make the characters here seem like mere caricatures, it seems obvious that the outlandish stories each have a grain of truth in them. This is especially seen in other small aspects of military life, such as with how it also deals with the difficulties in flying fighter planes, the men who get wounded and die in duty, and the wishes for freedom and patriotism.

All in all, this book actually appears to be an almost day-by-day look into the life of a soldier in the battlefield. It may be difficult to keep reading this for some (it was for me), as its story is peppered with, and sometimes segued heavily by, black humor and social commentary. However, this story is meant to be read for more than its plot. Read it for the comedy, and be prepared for snapshots of the political horror in military life. Remember, just when you're sure you've won, you lose.

Read this book now! Here's Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition on Amazon (for Kindle).

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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