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BL wrote:
It's much more apparent that it's an incomplete work than 2666 is. While the latter had all its pieces in place and lacked only a few revisions from the author, there's obviously material missing in The Pale King, which is a shame because it was probably Wallace's most ambitious undertaking since Infinite Jest and it shows flashes of brilliance every few pages. It's just that there are a whole bunch of threads that never get tied together the way they were in Infinite Jest.

Interesting, thanks.

My favorite unfinished book is The Trial.

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Fri Jun 01, 2018 6:49 am
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Has anyone read any comic books or graphic novels on a Kindle? If so, how is the user experience?

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Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:50 am
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Torgo wrote:
Has anyone read any comic books or graphic novels on a Kindle? If so, how is the user experience?
It would behoove you to specify what Kindle model you're referring to.

EDIT: I don't mean to be snarky, but in terms of comics, Paperwhites are useful for manga but quite useless otherwise, while a Kindle Fire is useful for all purposes.

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Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:13 am
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BL wrote:
It would behoove you to specify what Kindle model you're referring to.

EDIT: I don't mean to be snarky, but in terms of comics, Paperwhites are useful for manga but quite useless otherwise, while a Kindle Fire is useful for all purposes.
I'll probably use my Google Nexus 9 tablet, which is comparable to a Fire.

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Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:41 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Interesting, thanks.

My favorite unfinished book is The Trial.


Unfinished or not, possibly my favorite book. If we're not including anything by Flannery O'Connor or Carson McCullers, of course. Because duh. Who else should be considered as writing the greatest book ever?


Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:53 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
Unfinished or not, possibly my favorite book. If we're not including anything by Flannery O'Connor or Carson McCullers, of course. Because duh. Who else should be considered as writing the greatest book ever?
Oh! I’m a huge Flannery O’Connor fan.

But, clearly, the greatest book ever is The Brothers Karamazov.

Or, possibly one of these:
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Against the Day
Infinite Jest
Pride & Prejudice
The Plague
A Tale of Two Cities
The Once and Future King

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Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:15 pm
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Greatest book ever? Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu made me wish I had become fluent in French, and George Eliot's Middlemarch is just about perfect in form.

I wouldn't argue against The Brothers Karamazov, though.


Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:38 am
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A few I'll throw into the discussion for greatest novels:

Candide by Voltaire
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston
The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Recognitions by William Gaddis
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Stoner by John Williams
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Beloved by Toni Morrison

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Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:26 am
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I'm into the final 100 pages of Blood Meridian. It's fantastic in both meanings of the word. Thanks again BL.

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Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:50 am
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Ugh. I started Blood Meridian a few days back, and I got less than a page into the introduction before it said what happens at the end of the book, and I almost threw it across the room.

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Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:06 am
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Who reads introductions before reading the book?

Regardless, the narrative trajectory of Blood Meridian is as inexorable and preordained as Moby-Dick; its ending can't really be spoiled because it's inevitable.

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Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:29 am
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DaMU wrote:
Ugh. I started Blood Meridian a few days back, and I got less than a page into the introduction before it said what happens at the end of the book, and I almost threw it across the room.
Is that the Harold Bloom intro? Never read that guy's intros. He almost always spoils the shit out of whatever he's writing about. I just picked up a copy of The Iceman Cometh because I'm seeing a production of it next week, and sure as hell there's Harold Bloom writing in his foreword about twists in the fourth act. I'm just glad I was already familiar with the story and just wanted to brush up.

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Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:11 am
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Macrology wrote:
Who reads introductions before reading the book?


I do. I thought that was clear.

Quote:
Regardless, the narrative trajectory of Blood Meridian is as inexorable and preordained as Moby-Dick; its ending can't really be spoiled because it's inevitable.


Still, I would've liked to discover that inexorability as I read.

And BL, yeah, Harold Bloom. End of the second paragraph of his intro. Thanks for the heads-up for moving forward.

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Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:21 am
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DaMU wrote:
And BL, yeah, Harold Bloom. End of the second paragraph of his intro. Thanks for the heads-up for moving forward.
No problem. And once you're done with the book, I highly recommend the lectures from Bloom's colleague at Yale, Professor Amy Hungerford, for spelling out McCarthy's themes and allusions. They're available on YouTube. Bloom's intros can be doubly obnoxious to a first-time reader because he often writes as if all his assumptions about the meaning of the text are universally shared and thus can be brushed over in favor of heaping praise, whereas Hungerford's lectures actually delve into the evidence for those claims. If you're going to spoil the plot, at least make it edifying. Bloom will throw out the occasional references to Milton and Melville, but Hungerford will give you a chapter-and-page citation for what specific aspects overlap.

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Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:33 am
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Image

That's what I got from Blood Meridian. War and violence is all that was and ever will be. The universe runs like clockwork regardless.

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Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:43 pm
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Quite-Gone Genie wrote:
Image

That's what I got from Blood Meridian. War and violence is all that was and ever will be. The universe runs like clockwork regardless.
That's certainly the view advocated by Judge Holden, and
he would seem to have conquered over the other characters of the novel by its end
, but then there's the question of the epilogue and what that means for the future.

There's generally an academic consensus that McCarthy's cosmology in the novel is a Gnostic one; either the Bible is mistaken and the world was created by a malevolent demiurge, or the Bible is correct but limited in scope, and that Yahweh is such a demiurge. There are repeated allusions to the Judge fitting a Satanic mold, specifically the one of Paradise Lost. Yet he seems to have the greatest understanding of the natural order and claims dominion over it as a "suzerain," or lord, suggesting he is or sees himself as the demiurge of our world.

Gnosticism inverts the question of good and evil. Whereas Christianity presents a portrait of a paradise undone by original sin, Gnosticism posits that sin, reflected in violence, is the natural order and that good, embodied in Christian Gnosticism by Jesus, is an intruder to this order. Good exists and good may well conquer evil, but Gnosticism presents this as a steeply uphill battle in a world where good is a rarity.

So the questions Blood Meridian presents are whether or not good exists in this evil world, and whether or not good can conquer evil. On the former question, I would say that's a resounding yes, and even the Judge recognizes it. It's the "clemency for the heathen" that he recognizes and despises in the boy for his helping to save Tobin. On the second question, the ending would suggest a definitive no, but then McCarthy throws in that epilogue, with a figure slowly punching holes in the terrain while wanderers follow behind him picking up bones, or cleaning up after the carnage. Most interpretations I've read have it literally as a depiction of a man using a post hole digger in preparation for telegraph lines or fence posts, but figurative interpretations are wide open.

My reading? It's one of those "pockets of autonomous life" that so offended the Judge, reshaping the terrain (and the world) in a way he didn't anticipate. It's a sign that a new age is coming to the West, but it's left up to the reader to interpret whether there's any real progress in that. Knowing McCarthy is prone to quoting Yeats, it could be a reference to The Second Coming and its rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem to be born. Or it could be foreshadowing for the next global calamity (telegraph poles near or in Mexico might suggest the Zimmerman Telegram and its role in World War I). I think the greater purpose is to reopen the question of good's viability for the future after seeming to close it so definitively with the novel's conclusion.

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Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:12 am
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Those are some good words right there

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Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:50 am
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BL wrote:
That's certainly the view advocated by Judge Holden, and
he would seem to have conquered over the other characters of the novel by its end
, but then there's the question of the epilogue and what that means for the future.

There's generally an academic consensus that McCarthy's cosmology in the novel is a Gnostic one; either the Bible is mistaken and the world was created by a malevolent demiurge, or the Bible is correct but limited in scope, and that Yahweh is such a demiurge. There are repeated allusions to the Judge fitting a Satanic mold, specifically the one of Paradise Lost. Yet he seems to have the greatest understanding of the natural order and claims dominion over it as a "suzerain," or lord, suggesting he is or sees himself as the demiurge of our world.

Gnosticism inverts the question of good and evil. Whereas Christianity presents a portrait of a paradise undone by original sin, Gnosticism posits that sin, reflected in violence, is the natural order and that good, embodied in Christian Gnosticism by Jesus, is an intruder to this order. Good exists and good may well conquer evil, but Gnosticism presents this as a steeply uphill battle in a world where good is a rarity.

So the questions Blood Meridian presents are whether or not good exists in this evil world, and whether or not good can conquer evil. On the former question, I would say that's a resounding yes, and even the Judge recognizes it. It's the "clemency for the heathen" that he recognizes and despises in the boy for his helping to save Tobin. On the second question, the ending would suggest a definitive no, but then McCarthy throws in that epilogue, with a figure slowly punching holes in the terrain while wanderers follow behind him picking up bones, or cleaning up after the carnage. Most interpretations I've read have it literally as a depiction of a man using a post hole digger in preparation for telegraph lines or fence posts, but figurative interpretations are wide open.

My reading? It's one of those "pockets of autonomous life" that so offended the Judge, reshaping the terrain (and the world) in a way he didn't anticipate. It's a sign that a new age is coming to the West, but it's left up to the reader to interpret whether there's any real progress in that. Knowing McCarthy is prone to quoting Yeats, it could be a reference to The Second Coming and its rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem to be born. Or it could be foreshadowing for the next global calamity (telegraph poles near or in Mexico might suggest the Zimmerman Telegram and its role in World War I). I think the greater purpose is to reopen the question of good's viability for the future after seeming to close it so definitively with the novel's conclusion.

Interesting ideas. I haven't had the time yet to search for any literary criticism but I have some initial thoughts about a few parts of the book. I'll put what is necessary behind spoiler tags but the bulk of it is generic enough to pass. I found it interesting that the Judge seemed to be a protector of the group and it was implied that he made a pact of sorts with Glanton although McCarthy is oblique about this. The story of his joining the gang as told by Tobin certainly solidifies his status. Glanton is the captain but Holden is certainly suzerain of the gang. I also found interesting the inclusiveness of the gang, and also how every character who was not white was considered a "nigger". Concerning Jackson at a few points of the book:

After the black Jackson decapitated the white Jackson, he seems to have become a part of the whole as if he'd sworn a blood oath. He had proven his ruthlessness to the others. Jackson gets lost at one point and Holden and a few of the Delawares set out to find him, risking their own lives. In contrast to how Holden later views the Kid, he seems to consider Jackson to be indispensable to the group and someone who has shown his worth through bloodletting. Also when the gang sets down at a table for food, the proprietor informs them that he's glad to serve all races but they have to sit at a back table. Glanton looks around and says "he thinks we're all niggers", knowingly covering for Jackson who had chosen the table. Once again Jackson is allowed an opportunity to avenge this slight as the owner is quickly dispatched.

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Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:20 am
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And also a correction to the slur:

Late in the book the Kid/the Man meets Elrod and the family and the blackened ears worn around his neck are misidentified to be the ears of slaves. This is corrected by the Man and Elrod is incredulous. This is the only time I can recall in the book that Indians are distinguished from blacks as far as the slur is concerned. All other times it seems to be used interchangeably.

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Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:28 am
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I think in terms of the makeup and diversity of the gang, McCarthy is definitely reaching back to Moby-Dick, with its blend of New Englander crewmates and Indian, African and Arab harpooners. There's at least one one-for-one comparison between the crews:
Toadvine matches pretty well to Starbuck, particularly how both men at specific points in each story come to the threshold of killing their deranged leaders, Toadvine when he puts the pistol to Holden's head after Holden has killed and scalped the little Indian boy and Starbuck when he contemplates shooting Ahab in his bed. Neither man can bring himself to do it, though they both know it would spare their crews unspeakable hardship.

On the subject of Ahab, a lot of people draw a one-for-one comparison to Holden, but I don't think that's quite right. When Ahab is introduced in Moby-Dick, he's described as a "grand, ungodly, god-like man" who "has his humanities." The first part sure sounds like Holden, but it's hard to see where he has his humanities. Rather, I think Blood Meridian splits those characteristics between Holden and Glanton. When Ahab dies, his vengeful hatred dies with him, but when the vulnerable, corruptible leader-in-name-only Glanton dies, the malevolent, corruptive spirit of Holden gets to live far, far on.
Aside from those connections with Moby-Dick, there's the obvious nature of the doomed journey and the fact that McCarthy writes his chapter headings in Melville's style.

And in terms of the interchangeability of races, I think part of what Blood Meridian presents as the evil of violence is its capacity for erasing cultures. The mission of the gang isn't just to kill Indians; it's to wipe out their traditions and communities. They're fine with taking on crew members who have assimilated to and are subservient to the white culture.

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Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:34 am
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Re: Blood Meridian and Moby-Dick

I've always felt that Holden had a closer affinity to the whale than to Ahab. He isn't possessed by the same mania that drives Ahab. There's an aura of calm and control about him, as if he's the eye of the storm and the violence he indulges in is just the logical consequence of his existence. Like the whale, he is not merely a force of nature but something verging on supernatural. His imposing size, his paleness, and his alopecia all visually reinforce the bond between them.

It's not a perfect parallel, obviously, nor is meant to be. Holden is worldly and eloquent and indisputably acts with human intent and a knowledge of his own moral depravity. If he shares anything with Ahab, it's his ruthlessness and disregard for the value of life -- as if Ahab harpooning the whale mingled their traits and gave birth to something monstrous but human.

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Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:35 am
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I hadn't thought of that connection but it makes a lot of sense. More on that:

According to Tobin, everyone in the gang swore they had seen Holden at some point in the past, just like the Kid had at Nacogdoches. The whale is similarly omnipresent; every sailor has a tale about him.

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Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:53 am
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I think a lot of you guys would enjoy Joe Lansdale's The Thicket.


Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:01 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:
I think a lot of you guys would enjoy Joe Lansdale's The Thicket.

My library has that as an eBook.

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Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:07 pm
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BL wrote:
Is that the Harold Bloom intro? Never read that guy's intros. He almost always spoils the shit out of whatever he's writing about. I just picked up a copy of The Iceman Cometh because I'm seeing a production of it next week, and sure as hell there's Harold Bloom writing in his foreword about twists in the fourth act. I'm just glad I was already familiar with the story and just wanted to brush up.
The revival of Iceman was good, not great, by the way. It makes the same mistake I've read attributed to the 1973 James Earl Jones-led production, which is that it cut about an hour of ensemble monologues in favor of building more of a star turn for the Hickey part. Denzel Washington's star power almost justifies the decision, but I think it sacrifices too much of O'Neill's overall message (that pipe dreams do have a certain value for those who need them and can make life livable; that Larry Slade isn't some noble truth-seer but just a dysfunctional person and his only real moment of clarity is when he recognizes that broken part of himself; that it's crucial to understand that O'Neill's own biography speaks to the fact that a pipe dream carried him past the point of suicide and was ultimately fulfilled), tipping things too far into rank nihilism. I could see the argument that a five-hour play is too long a test of audience patience these days, but the seven-and-a-half-hour production of both halves of Angels in America that's currently running puts a lie to that. On the other hand, the one-hour-forty-five-minute runtime without intermission for Three Tall Women was a goddamn revelation this year, so maybe this mania for brevity benefits certain works.

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Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:45 pm
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I'm staying out of this thread to avoid spoilers, but I'm reading Blood Meridian as fast as I can at the moment, and will be back soon!

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Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:12 am
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maybe I should too. I "read" Blood Meridian in high school but it was all so over my head nothing really got absorbed. maybe it would be more accurate to say my eyes looked at text and every few minutes or so my hands would turn pages until I had turned all the pages. maybe now is the right moment to turn all those pages a second time.

(either before or after Crying of Lot 49)


Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:06 am
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Quite-Gone Genie wrote:
My library has that as an eBook.


I listened to it as an audiobook. It's one of my favorite books that I've read in the last 10 years. After I read it I was reading another book about how writers can write for groups to which they do not belong (I mean, basically a guide for writers, especially white writers, who want to include minority characters but are scared of doing it wrong or writing to stereotypes). Lansdale was frequently cited as someone who was particularly good at this, and it really reinforced the way I felt about how Lansdale was able to write an almost comically diverse novel where every character felt fleshed out.

I couldn't stop listening to it and I think it'd be a real page-turner.


Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:14 am
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Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
maybe I should too. I "read" Blood Meridian in high school but it was all so over my head nothing really got absorbed. maybe it would be more accurate to say my eyes looked at text and every few minutes or so my hands would turn pages until I had turned all the pages. maybe now is the right moment to turn all those pages a second time.
Do it! :)

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Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:52 am
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The A.V. Club’s favorite books of 2018 so far

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Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:49 am
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Authority, the second book in the Southern Reach trilogy, is baaaaaad. I was really surprised to learn that he wrote all these books at once or at least before they were published, cause boy oh boy it reads like a guy who's first book was an unexpected hit and then he had to get the next one to market quick and he had no fucking ideas. It just prattles around for fucking ever before something actually happens with like ten pages left and his prose ain't near good enough to make all that nothing entertaining. I still started the third one though cause I am a completionist and the overall concept still intrigues me enough to care about answers that may or may not be forthcoming.


Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:19 pm
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Just finished Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes, and, while it fizzled out a bit at the climax, for the most part it was a rather dark, thrilling, chillingly written tale that managed to (mostly) overcome the cliches of the serial killer thriller genre it indulged in. Now looking to read the rest of the Hodges trilogy sometime.

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Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:33 pm
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Dark Horse Comics brings William Gibson's original, unproduced Alien 3 script to life (preview panels inside link!)

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An Alien blockbuster is coming to a comic shop near you when Dark Horse Comics brings William Gibson's original, unproduced Alien 3 script to life with the help of writer and artist Johnnie Christmas.

While Gibson was a contributor in the early phase of the writing for Alien 3, ultimately most of his concepts never made it into the final film. As the father of the cyberpunk genre with titles like Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive, Dark Horse is thrilled to see Gibson's vision fully realized for the first time!

Following the deadly events of Aliens, the Union of Progressive Peoples intercepts the spaceship carrying the hibernating bodies of Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and Bishop. But unbeknownst to them, they have also picked up another deadly passenger whose discovery will unleash a race between two governments to weaponize the xenomorph in this horrifying and poignant Cold War-themed thriller.

With an intense script by Gibson (Neuromancer, Agency, Count Zero, Archangel), cinematic art by Johnnie Christmas (Angel Catbird, Firebug, Sheltered), vibrant colors by Tamra Bonvillain (Doom Patrol, Wayward, Uncanny Avengers), and a slate of variant covers by James Harren, Daniel Warren Johnson, Paolo Rivera, Tradd Moore, and Christian Ward, William Gibson's Alien 3 is the "what if?" fans have been asking for!

William Gibson's Alien 3 #1 (of five) goes on sale November 7, 2018, and is available for pre-order at your local comic shop.

Praise for William Gibson's Alien 3:

"He [Gibson] was able to take the franchise's existing elements of body horror and blow them out to unspeakably terrifying degrees. He put the aliens in new environments and warped forms. He built out the world of the series without over-explaining or hitting the Cold War metaphors too hard."—Vulture

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Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:30 am
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I've finally started reading the Locke & Key series and it's insanely good. I just finished the first two volumes and I will pick up the other ones later this week at my local comic store.


Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:00 pm
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