ROKetship by Luke Martin (self-published, 2010)
ROKetship is a short book – 100 pages, roughly half of which are cartoon pages – that compiles the most helpful and appreciated comments from the long-running Facebook page of the same title.
The book (and page) deal with the cultural differences between South Korea and the United States, in the form of cartoons. For the book, there is a cartoon on one page, and an explanatory page of text facing it. The reader learns about Korean superstitions, the most popular stores, to expect not to have access to a clothes dryer, why Korean names tend to be similar and other helpful information in a way that is easily accessible and readily processed.
The comparison to Larry Feign’s long-running Lily Wong comic is unavoidable but unfair. Lily Wong was a daily strip that detailed life in capitalism-driven Hong Kong (it naturally ended when the British returned Hong Kong to the Chinese). ROKetship does not deal with any continuing plotlines and uses the cartoons as supplements for the text.
The book is an interesting peek at cultural differences and would likely be extremely useful to anyone going abroad to stay in South Korea for any length of time. That would absolutely include any military personnel, who can be presented with a preview of what to expect when they leave the base.
Zorachus by Mark E. Rogers (1986, Ace)
This is a disturbing book. It is the first in the series, so there is reasonable hope that the content gets less offensive as it goes along. That hope is dashed with the successive titles in the series, many of which could not find a publisher and mass-distribution deal due in part to the content.
Rogers spins a fantasy novel about a righteous man who comes to a town full of sin and attempts to clean it up, falling for an intelligent, beautiful woman along the way. It is, however, a classical tragedy; the protagonist, a warrior-priest, is corrupted by his feelings for the woman as his one flaw is exploited to cause his downfall.
In the sequel, The Nightmare of God, the corruption is completed. Later books chronicle the world shortly after and shortly before the fall of Zorachus, telling the stories of how his parents came to meet and move from evil to good and telling of what befell those whom Zorachus’ early work had saved. The trilogy The Blood of the Lamb concludes the series for its internal chronology (although other books were written and self-published later) and details the foretold coming of a savior of peace and truth centuries after the fall of Zorachus.
It is unique and memorable because of Rogers’ experience as a Christian with a degree in religion. He posits a world where an evil force (Satan, unspoken) has complete dominance over the physical realm, and tempts people into war and debauchery, hate and betrayal. Here, that temptation is often accompanied by access to powerful magics with which to smite enemies.
The force represents itself as warring gods, so as to encourage discord among its followers. When The Blood of the Lamb comes, we are shown the effect of a savior to such a world.
It’s a thought-provoking series of books about evil and good crossed with a Conan-style fantasy, but it also includes people getting disemboweled, eaten alive from the inside by insects, sex with pigs, a priest getting sliced into pieces by a tiny demon with a cleaver and far more disturbing and vile imagery.
Not for the faint of heart and not perfect, but an ambitious attempt to introduce heady topics into a genre that typically steers clear of them.