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Patton Oswalt

Author of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

27+ Works 1,550 Members 78 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Patton Oswalt is an actor, comedian, and author. He has appeared on numerous television shows and in more than twenty movies including Young Adult, Big Fan, and Ratatouille. He has released four TV specials and four comedy albums including My Weakness Is Strong. His books include Zombie Spaceship show more Wasteland and Silver Screen Fiend: Learning about Life from an Addiction to Film. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Patton Oswalt

Associated Works

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States (2015) — Narrator, some editions — 1,055 copies
Ratatouille [2007 film] (2007) — Voice — 1,039 copies
Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me (2008) — Contributor — 353 copies
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [2013 film] (2013) — Actor — 242 copies
Criminal, Vol. 6: The Last of the Innocent (2011) — Introduction — 171 copies
The Complete Peanuts: 1985-1986 Dailies & Sundays (2012) — Introduction — 168 copies
Justice League of America, Vol. 2: The Lightning Saga (2008) — Introduction — 155 copies
The Best of R. A. Lafferty (2019) — Contributor — 148 copies
Down Periscope [1996 film] (1996) 111 copies
The Secret Life of Pets 2 [2019 film] (2019) — Actor — 97 copies
The Goon: Noir (2007) — Contributor — 54 copies
McSweeney's Issue 50 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern) (2017) — Contributor — 50 copies
Reno 911!: Miami [2007 Film] (2007) — Actor — 47 copies
The Circle [2017 film] (2017) — Actor — 46 copies
Bedtime Stories for Cynics (2019) — Narrator — 40 copies
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies [2018 film] (2018) — Actor — 38 copies
Young Adult [2011 film] (2012) — Actor — 34 copies
DC Comics: The Sequential Art of Amanda Conner (2012) — Contributor — 34 copies
Keeping Up With the Joneses [2016 film] (2016) — Actor — 33 copies
The King of Queens: The Complete Series (2011) — Actor — 21 copies
The King of Queens: Season 1 (2003) — Actor — 20 copies
The Overrated Book (2006) — Foreword — 18 copies
The Amazing Screw-on Head [2006 animated film] (2006) — Actor — 17 copies
80 for Brady [2023 film] (2023) — Actor — 14 copies
The Goldbergs: The Complete First Season (2016) — Narrator — 10 copies
Sex and Death 101 [2007 Film] (2007) — Actor — 8 copies
The King of Queens: Season 5 (2006) — Actor — 6 copies
The Goldbergs: The Complete Second Season (2016) — Narrator — 6 copies
Kim Possible [2019 TV movie] (2019) — Actor — 5 copies
We Bare Bears: The Movie [2020 TV movie] (2020) — Actor — 4 copies
Disney Dreamlight Valley (2022) — Voice — 2 copies
The Sandman: Season 1 (2022) — Actor — 1 copy


2018 (57) American history (70) American Revolution (69) animated (34) animation (72) audiobook (81) biography (85) California (71) comedy (118) comics (104) crime (92) Disney (44) DVD (185) ebook (42) essays (74) fiction (90) film (42) Firefly (39) Golden State Killer (31) graphic novel (87) graphic novels (37) history (206) humor (242) Kindle (49) library (32) memoir (104) movie (54) movies (38) murder (48) mystery (33) non-fiction (605) Pixar (45) read (93) read in 2018 (40) science fiction (97) serial killer (50) short stories (32) to-read (654) true crime (301) USA (40)

Common Knowledge



A successful, creative comedian/actor mistaking randomness for creativity. Let me be clear, my estimation of this book is not some puritan knee-jerk reaction to base material — I have no such prejudice — but simply a reader responding to the lack of structure or vision in the material. A memoir by any other name does not a memoir make: many forget that a memoir not written explicitly and carefully for an audience is just a diary or journal written in retrospect. Better writers than Oswalt have forgotten this. I recently read Venice Observed by Mary McCarthy, an esteemed writer apparently. She likewise failed to connect the reader with the material. You could make a convincing argument that this is the primary job of all writers. Fail at this and nothing else matters. The comparison between McCarthy and Oswalt is an interesting one, I think. The writing style and subject matter could be no further apart, and yet both authors fail in very much the same way. Random memories are just that, your random memories. If you expect a reader to care you need to make those memories the reader’s, vicariously, so that the reader can invest. Oswalt tells us he understands this on some level. About half way through the book, the origin of the book’s title is made clear. He says:

But for me, and my circle of high school friends, it came down to Zombies, Spaceships, or Wastelands. These were the three doors out of the Vestibule of Adolescence, and each opened onto a dark, echoing hallway. The corridors twisted and intertwined, like a DNA helix. Maybe those paths were a rough reflection of the DNA we were born with, which made us more likely to cherish and pursue one corridor over another.

I’m going to try to explain each of these categories (and will probably fail). And then I’ll figure out where I came out, on the other end, once the cards were played. I think this chapter is more for me than for you.

I think this book is for you, Patton, not us, and this is disrespectful of the reader’s time, this the most cardinal of writerly sins.
… (more)
MichaelDavidMullins | 38 other reviews | Oct 17, 2023 |
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
I'm going to make a lot of allusions to other comics/superhero stories. This is intentional and, I think, warranted. Oswalt and Blum are satirizing, paying tribute to, and playing with tried-and-true superhero ideas. When I say they're doing something ____-esque, or in the vein of, etc. I'm not criticizing, I'm describing. Their work is derivative of more things than I'm aware of because they're commenting on those things. Oswalt and Blum know their stuff, they've drunk deeply from more comic wells than I can imagine and used that to produce this series.

When she was a kid, Frankie was the costumed sidekick of her mother, a supervillain/thief. At some point, they were arrested and Frankie went to prison. When she got out, she tried to go straight and get a decent job, but we all know how hard it is for an ex-con to get a job, when that ex-con is a Meta? Forget it—door after door slammed in her face. Finally, she found a job working as a bartender in a bar that catered to supervillains. Not really the elite-level villains, but the "lower ranked" ones—with just enough power to typically need a superhero instead of the police. Think the sillier ones in the Suicide Squad.

I've seen this kind of bar in Spider-Man comics, a superhero version in The Tick (animated), and a few other places like that. Frankie is friendly with a couple of her regulars but regards most of them with a kind of contempt/pity mixture. Frankie's the stereotypical Alcoholic in Recovery working as a Bartender—just her addiction is using the abilities that got her locked up.

So remember what Batman wanted to do to the Joker after he (assisted by the readers of DC Comics) beat the life out of Jason Todd? What would've happened if Superman hadn't stepped in? Well, we get the answer here—after a Joker-esque character (The Stickman) kills the kid sidekick (Kid Dusk) of a Batman-esque hero (The Insomniac), The Insomniac goes on a vigilante rampage looking for The Stickman—and woe to anyone who gets in his way. The story kicks off with someone stumbling into the bar holding the beaten near-corpse of one supervillain who was "interrogated" by The Insomniac.

This leads to the biggest crackdown on Meta criminals ever—the heroes and the police are trying to lock them all up for their own safety more than because of any crimes. It's wreaking all sorts of havoc. To put a stop to this, Frankie and some acquaintances/customers decide they need to find The Stickman themselves and kill him themselves. Why wait for the good guys to do the job? If Stickman is out of the picture, The Insomniac might be able to be stopped—or maybe stop himself.

Sure, none of these criminals are the best choices for this—and most are past the prime of their abilities—but it's not like they have a better idea.

I can't put my finger exactly on how to describe the art—it reminded me of a lot of mid-80s Marvel Comics art, with shades of Gotham Central. That's going to help precisely no one, but it's the best I can do.

I really dug it—the art fits the story and the characters well. It wasn't too flashy or too polished—neither would fit this story. There's a roughness to it (but not in a negative way) that really suited what Oswalt and Blum were doing.

This is dark. It's twisted. It's funny—and it's not really funny at all. There's some tragedy to this, too.

I want more. Now.

Is it the greatest comic story I've come across lately? Nah, but the way the creative team is playing with, exploring, exploiting, and so on with tropes, stand-bys, themes, character-types, etc. is just so much fun and so interesting.

There's just a solid story in the midst of all this, too. It's more than meta-commentary on superhero stories, it's a good one itself. But for me to really dig into it the way it deserves would take more time and energy than I'm willing to devote to it. So I'll just leave it at this—you're going to dig this.
… (more)
hcnewton | Aug 28, 2023 |
This wasn't quite what I imagined it would be, but it was a pleasant and sometimes amusing collection of stories about modern life, growing up in the suburbs, and becoming a standup comedian.
zot79 | 38 other reviews | Aug 20, 2023 |
This is written by from the perspective of someone who has achieved a level of enlightenment, by someone who clearly hasn't. What it amounts to is a guy who hates his former self, but hasn't seemed to learn about life ... just addiction ... from that self.

There are some great stories about stand ups and the business in here, and some nice movie talk, nestled in among judgey, go-nowhere assertions that his current self is where it's at.

I wonder how the book would read if he'd made less money or hadn't had a kid.… (more)
3Oranges | 20 other reviews | Jun 24, 2023 |



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