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Count Geigers Blues [Hardcover]

Tor Books
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 8 1992
An art critic for a great metropolitan newspaper reluctantly becomes a superhero in a novel of heroism. By the author of The Secret Ascension, Unicorn Mountain, and No Enemy But Time.

Product Details


Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Xavier Thaxton, erudite fine arts editor at a great metropolitan newspaper, views himself as a "superior" man. Then he is exposed to radiation that endows him with powers far beyond those of mere mortals. Adopting the name and costume of a popular new comic-book superhero, he becomes Count Geiger; his exploits include saving women from muggings, stopping a particularly exploitative exercise at a local strip joint and generally inspiring all and sundry--until he starts to die of radiation poisoning. Nebula Award winner Bishop ( No Enemy but Time ) sets this amusing super-hero sendup in the fictional city of Salonika, capital of the southeastern state of Oconee (no doubt on the same map as the famed comic-book locales Gotham City, Metropolis and Central City). The plot is developed in leisurely fashion; Thaxton does not don the Geiger identity until the novel's midpoint. His efforts are dedicated to reforming criminals and bettering humanity's lot. Along the way Bishop finds time to criticize nuclear power plants, making his story politically correct as well as entertaining.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Costumed comic book heroes, fast foods, and heavy metal music represent the ultimate in bad taste for fine arts critic Xavier Thaxton. Then an unhappy coincidence transforms him into his "worst nightmare " in this masterpiece of speculative fiction by the author of The Secret Ascension . Bishop consistently grapples with significant issues in his novels, and Thaxton's struggle to redefine his values while at war with his body is no exception. Whether viewed as modern parable, cautionary tale, or splendid satire, this is a top-notch addition to any library's sf or general fiction collection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Bishop deconstructs deconstruction Aug. 28 2002
Format:Paperback
This one jumped off the shelf and into my hands. I'm a Bishop fan from years back--having read and loved books like Ancient of Days, No Enemy But Time, The Secret Ascension (aka Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas), and Unicorn Mountain--and I hadn't even known that he had a new book coming out.
Not only that, but a book that really piqued my interest. Bishop's doing his own version of Watchmen here--what if a "superhero" really existed in our world. But the operative word on the title page is that this is a comedy. For all his realism, Bishop is actually writing in the tradition of James Branch Cabell and Thorne Smith, warping our reality to actually satirize it.
It has confirmed my expectations. Xavier Thaxton is the Fine Arts editor at the local newspaper--a man who hates popular culture. But slowly he finds that popular culture is what he needs, and what he is becoming. The conclusion is a statement about "art," that most nebulous of terms.
Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Bishop takes a cast of highly improbably characters who are
suspiciously like people you know and tells a wonderfully
entertaining and human story about the nature of heroism
and duty. Along the way he skewers art, art critics, comic
books, journalism, rock/alternative music, teenage angst,
and almost anything else that wanders by. It's damned hard
to write a satire without turning the characters into
caricatures, but Bishop keeps all his people three-dimensional
and (mostly) likeable even at their worst.

I'm most impressed with what Bishop does with Geiger himself.
Geiger starts as a character rich in artistic depth but one-
dimensional as a person. He ends up as a one-dimensional
comic book character who's much deeper as a person. An
impressive inversion, and an impressive work to pull off.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enemies of decency (and good comic books) beware March 30 2004
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As an author, Michael Bishop is hard to classify. His novels manage to attain that nebulous position between SF and fantasy, maintaining enough realism for the reader to truly believe that his novels could happen in the "real world". Most of the time his novels function on more than one level, telling both the story and conveying another layer of meaning above that . . . "Brittle Innings" was both a poignant look back at the golden days of baseball and a comment on what truly makes a monster. In this book, things are a little farther out, but not by much. In a fictional town, Xavier Thaxton writes for the Fine Arts section of the local newspaper. His disdain for popular culture is unmatched and he takes every opportunity he can to slam "low" art and elevate the fine arts, opera and classical music and nice paintings and what not. Then one day a bunch of things happen to him at once. His nephew, a "retro-punk" whose hatred for fine art equals his uncle's dislike of pop culture, comes to live with him . . . and Xavier takes a dip in water tainted by radioactivity and finds that he can no longer stand the presence of fine art without being exposed to an equal amount of pop culture. Eventually he finds that events are steering him to become that perfect embodiment of pop culture . . . the superhero. Bishop wonderfully deconstructs the superhero concept, from his weird origin (with a perfectly realistic eventual outcome) to taking the idea of "doing good" to absurd extremes, as Xavier tries to get bars to show seminars on how to respect women, and in fact there's very little superheroesque action involved in the story itself so those purely interested in strangely dressed people beating each other up should go to their local store and find an Image comic (or watch wrestling, I guess). Those wanted dense, rapid storytelling should look elsewhere too, or at least discover new reserves of patience . . . in comics there's a term called "decompressed storytelling" and that certainly applies here, Bishop takes his sweet time developing all of this and the concept of Xavier as superhero doesn't even appear until the book is half over. This isn't a bad thing but there are points where you're wondering where this is all going. The general tone of the book is satire and lightheartedness, definitely not in the "grim and gritty" Dark Knight Returns/Watchmen style of comics, although Bishop knows how to contrast utterly real moments (like the fate of everyone else who gets exposed to the radiation) and he manages to ground the book in a tangible sense of reality and not make it seem like some weird cartoon. Not all the characters really come across as three-dimensional, Xavier is really the only person to truly feel real, his girlfriend Bari is fun but never really comes alive and while his nephew "the Mick" has his moments, his annoying line of supercool hipper-than-thou speak reminds me of old Justice League comics with Snapper Carr. Which is probably the point. But Bishop manages to make this all somehow effortlessly entertaining, and you need to know nothing about superheroes to enjoy the book, just an appreciation that the line between "high art" and pop culture isn't as well defined as you might think. And if the ending doesn't tear your heart out then you might as well be dead. A book that will surprise you with its depth and well worth searching out.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tells a good story while poking fun at art, journalism, etc. Aug. 28 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Bishop takes a cast of highly improbably characters who are
suspiciously like people you know and tells a wonderfully
entertaining and human story about the nature of heroism
and duty. Along the way he skewers art, art critics, comic
books, journalism, rock/alternative music, teenage angst,
and almost anything else that wanders by. It's damned hard
to write a satire without turning the characters into
caricatures, but Bishop keeps all his people three-dimensional
and (mostly) likeable even at their worst.

I'm most impressed with what Bishop does with Geiger himself.
Geiger starts as a character rich in artistic depth but one-
dimensional as a person. He ends up as a one-dimensional
comic book character who's much deeper as a person. An
impressive inversion, and an impressive work to pull off.
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, short, easy read... July 20 2013
By Chris Allen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
While this book isn't going to really inspire any movements or anything, it still provides some entertainment while keeping things somewhat grounded. I wasn't crazy about the abrupt ending (never have been); but for what it was it kept me reading.
5.0 out of 5 stars almost too good Sept. 24 2005
By Jacob Weisman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Over the course of his career, Michael Bishop has turned out a series of solid, memorable novels, one after another, many among the very best works sf has to offer. Though always amusing and stylish, Bishop's novels, perhaps as a result of their bittersweet story lines and dependence on strong character development, have failed to catch on with a larger audience.

Count Geiger's Blues offers, at first glance, anything but what we've become accustomed to in Bishop's work, tackling, of all things, the world of superhero comic books. Count Geiger's Blues, however, bears closer resemblance to Alan Moore and Dave Gribbons' innovative Watchmen series than to superman.

In the end, this spoof and loving embrace of the superhero genre proves too well written, too intellectual, and too sensitive to its characters to grant Bishop the audience that has eluded him for so long.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bishop deconstructs deconstruction Aug. 28 2002
By Glen Engel Cox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This one jumped off the shelf and into my hands. I'm a Bishop fan from years back--having read and loved books like Ancient of Days, No Enemy But Time, The Secret Ascension (aka Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas), and Unicorn Mountain--and I hadn't even known that he had a new book coming out.
Not only that, but a book that really piqued my interest. Bishop's doing his own version of Watchmen here--what if a "superhero" really existed in our world. But the operative word on the title page is that this is a comedy. For all his realism, Bishop is actually writing in the tradition of James Branch Cabell and Thorne Smith, warping our reality to actually satirize it.
It has confirmed my expectations. Xavier Thaxton is the Fine Arts editor at the local newspaper--a man who hates popular culture. But slowly he finds that popular culture is what he needs, and what he is becoming. The conclusion is a statement about "art," that most nebulous of terms.
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