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Archive for the ‘sciencefiction’ Category

Aetheric Mechanics

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Aetheric Mechanics

Sax Raker, the main character of Aetheric Mechanics, may seem familiar to you: He is London’s greatest detective, has a Doctor friend (Dr. Robert Watcham), and is a consummate asshole. No, it’s not Sherlock Holmes. At least not just Sherlock Holmes. Sax Raker is equal parts Holmes, Sexton Blake, Solar Pons, and every other fictional London detective that are cheap rip-offs of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic creation.

You’re asking, why do I want read a graphic novella about an amalgamation of Holmes and lesser creations? Because it’s written by Warren Ellis, and it’s bloody brilliant. Moreover, said amalgamation is partly what the story is about, but you would never predict how.

Warren Ellis is known for his approach to big concepts and mind-melting science fiction, and Aetheric Mechanics is no different. It is set in an alternate London, when steam technology gave Britons airships powered by reactionless drives and the fear of invasion from Ruritania grew stronger by the day; Dr. Robert Watcham returns home to London from the war, amidst social hysteria, and visits his good friend Sax Raker, who has just been commissioned for some detective work.

The MacGuffin: A dead body. What does it mean? Oh so many things.

A genre-bending tale of detective fiction, Aetheric Mechanics builds to a stunning, and wholly original conclusion. Ellis’ London is a city on the edge of science, where the relationship between faith and reason is greatly segregated. The art by Gianluca Pagliarani delivers the story cleanly, and with great elegance.

Aetheric Mechanics is 50 pages of wonderful comics. Also, it retails for $6.99. The fact that the book is dirt cheap is not the selling point, however, the content is.

I would have gladly payed quadruple for the Aetheric Mechanics. It’s just that wonderful.

– Alex Lyons

— Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history, and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

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Written by thesilentmajoritysays

March 9, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Desolation Jones

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DESOLATION JONES

Philip K. Dick infamously wrote letters to the spy agencies that he assumed were keeping tabs on him detailing the illegal activities of his friends, which he taped to the underside of his trash can left on the road because that was the most obvious place that they would look. For years, Dick had these one-way conversations with fictitious investigative agencies, including the intelligence community in his life everyday, fictitiously surrounding himself with spies and spooks from all over the world.

Enter Warren Ellis, realizing Dick’s nightmare of an intelligence community in Los Angeles, creating a sub-community of exiled spies forced to live in L.A. or be executed on their own native soil. So DESOLATION JONES’ world sits in a Los Angeles chock full of former FBI, Mi-6, CIA, KGB and uglier things, all forced to live and maintain day jobs, scattered across LA’s grotesque underbelly.

Michael Jones, neither accomplished agent nor good detective, is former MI6 who got drunk and shamed the organization. In retribution, they donated his body to science, giving him the Desolation treatment – a psychological experiment that kept Jones awake for a year and left him branded a biological hazard – and then sent him to die in L.A.. In exile, Jones is a social and emotional cripple, working as a Private Investigator who only takes spook community jobs, making sure he’s only even in contact with the community. The reason? He hates the community for what was done to him and they’re the only ones he can take it out on. His instincts are so harsh and warped that he has to convince himself to NOT kill.

So when he comes into jobs to search for the personal pornographic film shot by and starring Adolf Hitler, Jones a warped and demented forced of nature unleashed into the job, a poisonous outsider to L.A. and a tired killer to the community that supports him.

To bring the Desolation world to life is the inimitable J.H. Williams III, whose stunning colours, composition, angles and page layouts make DESOLATION JONES aesthetically vibrant. The story flows from reality to drug-induced hallucination to ultra-violence with masterful dexterity. His page layouts shift dramatically to keep the reader interested and guessing with widescreen presentation and monochrome, fluid fight sequences that’ll take out your eye.

For Philip K. Dick the “Empire Never Ended,” which reflects DESOLATION JONES’ reality. The Empire of Spies and Spooks doesn’t end, they just had to get day jobs. And for Jones, there’s no redemption. They broke, burned and scratched their markings into his arms. Unable to even drink himself to death, Jones has nothing but to work until he can’t even keep that together anymore. To die or to live and die in L.A.

– Timothy Legion

— Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

March 5, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Omega: The Unknown

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Omega: The Unknown

Omega: the Unknown follows a mute superhero from another world, who shares an uncertain bond with a boy-genius raised by robo-parents, chased by a growing army of robots led by a giant hand with legs.

Omega: The Unknown is comics on the edge of madness. It is pure imagination bursting from every panel, brimming from every page. Throwing convention out the window, novelist Jonathan Lethem and artist Farel Dalrymple have crafted a story so unique it challenges the other books on the shelf.

Describing Omega: The Unknown for the uninitiated is no easy feat, for the book defies the status quo, and strives for a higher standard of superhero fiction. The book attempts to refine our notion of the superhero, peering at it through a new, more sophisticated lens.Never mind the pseudo-realism of contemporary comics, Omega: The Unknown is a book in love with its subject matter, reconciling its genre’s inherent silliness, yet striving to take it in new directions.

It is pop-art, unabashedly; Kirby-esque concepts and imagination made into colorful pages, detailing philosophical concepts and social awareness. It is a parabolic meditation on the dangers of mass consumption and consumer society. It is without reservation, regard, and repression.

As a reader, I don’t enjoy being spoon-fed. Thankfully, Omega: The Unknown ignores that in favour of ambiguity. There are layers upon layers of ideas in its storytelling, and it is up to the reader to decide what it all means. There are extended sequences whereby the reader is meant to be confused and disillusioned, hopelessly following the action for a glimmer of purpose. Rest assured it all makes sense in the end, but not without complete devotion to the narrative. Moreover, it is impossible to digest everything this book has to offer in one read-through.

Like the best fiction, you don’t merely skim its pages and toss it aside. You take your time: read and re-read. Even then, you aren’t guaranteed a complete understanding of the text. Lethem and Dalrymple are not interested in convenient, straightforward storytelling. Rather, they are interested in comics as art, ambiguous and meaningful.

Omega: The Unknown is intelligent comics devoid of sanity but not deprived of purpose in its inspired lunacy.

– Alex Lyons

Alex Lyons studied English and History at the University of Guelph, where he acquired keen insights into late Victorian history, and its literature. This education, of course, serves no purpose here. Alex still lives in Guelph, and thinks of Jack the Ripper often.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Planetary vol 1 – All Over the World and Other Stories

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PLANETARY Vol 1 – All Over the World and Other Stories

Written – Warren Ellis
Art – John Cassaday
Colours – Laura Depuy

Planetary is one of the best structured concepts that has graced contemporary comics.

The story kicks off as The Planetary Organization, a team of “Archaeologists of the Impossible” recruit Elijah Snow, a man of cold-temperament and abilities, as head investigator of unexplainable phenomena drawing back through one hundred plus years of manufactured super-hero history.

The actual layout of Planetary is as unique as the premise. Each chapter tells a stand-alone story, putting the team into a different genre and setting. From Pulp Adventures to Japanese Monsters, each chapter is a uniquely designed and presented case study of the Impossible events of history, warped by the super powered principles of the Wildstorm Universe. Concepts and ideas not limited by genre or age – new and old – have the dirt wiped off them and are inspected closely to create a wholly new feel of things. A new, vibrant atmosphere for a new age of information.

With the book’s origin in the pulps, the reader is lead deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the book. Elijah Snow joins the Planetary Organization without any knowledge of the Fourth Man or his/her intentions or any modus operandi to Planetary. So as we travel around the world, from Hong Kong to contested Japanese islands to the very edge of the multiverse, Planetary threads the mysteries of the book – What is the purpose of the Planetary Organization?

Also included in this volume is the introduction of the Four, the antithesis to the Planetary organization. Four adventures mutated by a trip in a stolen rocket ship – their intelligence secret, their abilities overpowering and their purpose a secret. As the Four become the backbone of PLANETARY’s purposes, building a story that crests into the high concept competition that Planetary, like all pulps, is drawn to.

Planetary is not just smart comics; it’s unique, original and rolls with more than a hundred years of created history that plays off all the genres, each with unique pay-offs and highlighting their unique substances with a uniquely styled cover.

Let it be said, far and wide, than when Warren Ellis is good, he’s the best. And when he’s got a talent like John Cassaday working with him, the results are incomparable.

Planetary is one of those books. One of the unsung, true giants of the medium. Impossible to transfer, unnecessary to try. Each story is the juiciest fruit or oldest whiskey, each from a different side of the world with its own taste and colour you’ve never glimpsed before. Planetary really, really is that good.

– – Timothy Legion

Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 11, 2009 at 12:01 PM

The American Astronaut

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THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT

Space is a Lonely Town.

That’s the only clue you get when you hold a copy of The American Astronaut, a lingering hint of what you’re in for. Displayed to you on the cover is the image of one Samuel Curtis (writer/director Cory McAbee), the astronaut in question, in a full space suit that looks like it was built out of the remains of several other, cheaper, space suits.

The story follows Curtis as he transports a young male stud (the aptly named ‘Boy Who Actually Saw a Woman’s Breast’) to the all-female planet of Venus. At his tail is the merciless ‘Birthday boy’ Professor Hess, whom has taken it upon himself to kill every person Curtis comes in contact with so he can forgive Curtis and then murder him. Along the way we meet deformed Nevadans in a homemade space-barn, tap-dancing barflies and an interplanetary fruit smuggler.

Oh. And it’s a musical.

To classify The American Astronaut as anything other than “fun” is exasperating. A Homeric Odyssey set in space with a western attitude, featuring stunning musical numbers, memorable characters, beautiful black and white cinematography, and colourful roughnecks from all corners of the galaxy.

And despite this initial description, the film is not the inconceivable mess one would assume it to be. Not weird for the sake of weird, more weird for the sake of itself. Written, within the vaguest realms of plausibility, insofar as it has its feet firmly planted in the seven or eight genres it belongs to at any given moment. It knows the power of a good song and dance number, and will deploy them when necessary. That is what sets The American Astronaut apart from other so-called surrealist cinema. Every shot of the film, despite its abstract eccentricities, feels sublimely necessary.

See? It is much easier to say “fun”.

Surrealism has very rarely been widely accepted as quality entertainment. Most people fail to grasp the notion of it, and associate it as little more than surreal distractions. Something done weird enough that someone, somewhere, will see and think is brilliant and/or hilarious.

Looking for genuinely well produced and well executed surreal entertainment is a challenge. Very often their audience is handed works that rely heavily on abstract images and themes in lieu of little things like ‘a good story’ or ‘witty dialogue’; things which The American Astronaut has in spades. It doesn’t make you feel stupid for enjoying it. You don’t need to lower your standards “get it,” nor will you need to take a film theory class to understand its symbols and methods. One may see the cover and not quite grasp the meaning of a phrase like ‘Space is a Lonely Town’, but at its core, this is the basis of how one can appreciate the film itself.

Maybe it isn’t supposed to make sense. Maybe it will only make enough as much sense as it needs to. And maybe you’ll like it anyway.

– – J.D. Renaud

J.D. Renaud has no formal education in film, but that is more than evident upon meeting and/or seeing him. A purveyor of all things eccentric, he prides himself on being a guinea pig test subject for any new form of media he is given. He currently lives in Winnipeg Manitoba with his go-go dancer roommate.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 1, 2009 at 1:22 AM