Picoreview: Ryan North – To Be or Not To Be

Tobe

You give up on your revenge plan and instead devote your (after)life to being a marine biologist and oceanic cartographer. And it turns out Ghost Marine Biology is pretty advanced compared to Alive Human Marine Biology, due in no small part to how you can hang around on the ocean floor for as long as you want and can’t die.

A fun, clever, metatextual choose-your-own-adventure retelling of The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark in which you can play Hamlet, Ophelia or Hamlet’s Dad. Among the multitude of options available, the choices that follow the plot of the original play are marked with a skull-and-crossbones, but where’s the fun in not messing around with a classic of Western literature? I really enjoyed the extended thank you page that thanks the whole universe and the sequence of events that led up to the book’s creation, going right back to the big bang, illustrated as is only right by diagrammer extraordinaire Randall Munroe of xkcd fame. I also enjoyed Ophelia’s depiction as a tempering voice of reason and the inventor of the thermometer (and, by association, central heating). Oh, and the story thread that sees Hamlet’s dad become a ghost marine biologist, using his ghostly powers to explore the depths of the ocean. Beats the hell out of whining and moaning and talking to skulls, amiright? The book’s illustrations are a bonus: a delightful sample of some of the best artists working in webcomics.

Recommended.

Choose your own path to purchasing To Be Or Not To Be – your adventure starts here!

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Jutchy Ya Ya #48: Though Their Eyes of Flame May Sometimes Prove Searchlights…

JutchyBanner48

And here comes another issue of my Jutchy Ya Ya zine, #48 to be exact, hot off the presses and just champing at the bit to get into your hands/on your screens so you can:

  • Read all about JRR Tolkien’s take on Beowulf
  • Find out more about the story behind the naming of the city of Bendigo
  • Enjoy tangential references to various godly scribes from a range of mythologies
  • Revel in pun-based definitions of children’s mispronounciations
  • Soak up a long list of neopulp mashups of literary classics

All for free.

I’ve been getting proactive about distribution of my Jutchies of late, so if you’re looking to track one down you could do worse than try:

Or, if you want, you can contact me through this site and I could arrange for me to mail one to you. I’m good like that.

And if you want to check out some older issues, don’t say we never did nothin’. Check out the Jutchy Ya Ya page over here or the plethora of Jutchies on issuu.

The choice, as they say, is yours.

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Posted in jutchy ya ya, zines

Links for Sunday: Raining money, novel tips, comets, Adam Goodes & sorceresses

Being your weekly guide to things embedded in the interwebs that have awed, intrigued and inspired yours truly.

Physical Salary
The redoubtable Randall Munroe answers the question, “What if people’s incomes appeared around them as cash in real time? How much would you need to make to be in real trouble?” Short version: Zuckerberg has a new first-world problem.

9 Things You Need to Write a Novel
Toby Litt’s advice is more realistic, more compassionate and less “if you don’t do it then you don’t want it bad enough” than a lot of these “advice from writers” things that I’ve seen lately. I particularly like his de-emphasis on wordcount.

Flowers of the Sky
To celebrate the Rosetta landing of the Philae probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, The always-excellent Public Domain Review posted a gallery of illustrations of comets spanning 1000 years. Some of them have knives and faces in them.

A Punter’s Guide to Not Getting Defensive about Adam Goodes’s Truth Bombs
This is  an excellent and easy to follow overview of the major myths that keep surfacing in the ongoing debate about whether Australia is a racist country or not (short version: it is, but it doesn’t have to be). Read along, memorise the major points and use them liberally to debunk anyone who claims otherwise.

The Sorceress Next Door
This is a dearly sweet  comic with slick, smooth, colourful, fluid art by the never-not-compelling Chad Sell, a heartbreakingly, inspirationally optimistic short story about children’s play and gender identity. Also available in print, so you know what to do (hint: buy it).

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Posted in links, new ways to procrastinate

Zeptoreview: Carla Speed McNeil – Finder Library vol. 2

Finder

Carla Speed McNeil describes her work as “indigenous science fiction”, which I take to mean both “science fiction that looks at the place of indigeneity within a high-tech society” and “science fiction that considers people’s working and living relationship to their environment”. This volume collects four stories that were published over 15 issues of the monthly Finder comic, featuring concepts like virtual reality environments that exist inside a man’s head, college professors who are sentient feathered dinosaurs, and techno-weeds that grow into ever-broadcasting televisions. These high-sci-fi elements blend into plots that range from romcom to murder mystery. It’s a testament to McNeil’s storytelling that she pulls off both of these genres without breaking the boundaries of the world she’s created. Her art’s  masterful depiction of body language and facial expression adds convincing layers to her characters’ dialogue. There’s no ambiguity about what’s being said (or what’s going unsaid), even in panels with no dialogue. Finder is smart, insightful, playful, fun and sexy. If you’re not reading it, you damn well should be.

Highly Recommended.

Follow Carla Speed McNeil on Twitter or Tumblr. Read her comics for free on her site.  Buy her books from Dark Horse.

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Posted in comic reviews, comics, i would like to recommend these people's writing

Sunday Linkage – 16 Nov ’14

I know the whole linkblog thing is a bit oldschool in these days of tweetage and facebookery, but let’s face it, I’m a bit oldschool too (if by “oldschool” you mean “guy who moans about how much better the internet used to be while quietly acknowledging it also used to be shit in places”) and I’ve started following a few blogs that are doing linky stuff that I like, so I’m going to jump on that bringing-it-back bandwagon and see how it goes. Who knows? I might bring back my blogroll too.

Anyway, on to the links:

Too Many Cooks (video)
For those of us who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s with VHS, sitcoms and horror movies, this is a beautiful, knowing, twisted take on the opening credits theme song phenomenon. Make sure you watch the whole 11 minutes and change.

Reading a Poem: 20 Strategies
This is a good list for either newcomers to poetry or longtime readers and writers of the stuff, though I think it gets a little fruity toward the end. If ’twere me (and, let’s face it, it kind of is) I would add:

  • 21: If you read a poem and you don’t like it (e.g., you hate it/don’t get it/disagree with it/&c), find another poem (or poet) to read. Don’t let your disenchantment with a single poem trick you into giving up on poetry as a whole.

Saladin Ahmed – “Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy” (short story)
Ahmed is fast becoming my favourite fantasy writer. This, his take on Spenser’s The Faerie Queene Book I,  offers an alternative view of the generic “muslim infidel as villain” trope that appears in a lot of older Christian literature.

The Cassette Revival
Speaking of the ’80s, apparently cassettes are now all hip and cool and interesting and authentic.

It’s the World Wide Web (also a video)
Speaking of authentic, this is a frighteningly accurate picture of what the internet was like in the ’90s.

The Beckett/Bushmiller Letters
Did you know that Samuel Becket, author of Waiting for Godot, was a big fan of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy comic strip?  And he wrote to Bushmiller to pitch some ideas for the comic? And Bushmiller sketched up some of them? And the two of them corresponded for a time, swapping thoughts and tips about avant-garde theatre and what makes a comic strip work? Well, he was. And he did. And he did. And they did.

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Posted in new ways to procrastinate

A. Frances Johnson – “Microaviary”

The man from PR has a brow
like a furrowed dune.
These are unmanned drones
he says in unmanned couplets
that surveil and kill.
He introduces me to a gifted man-child
building wings
that replicate the hovering skills of the hawkmoth.
Tested at 4500 metres
over Helmund province,
it has no smalltalk.
Nor does he.

Full poem here.

For Remembrance Day.

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This Is Jumway

A little thing I made for the animation course I did ten-plus years back now.

This was the first animation screened at our graduation event, part of the showreel of everyone’s work. There was a deathly silence from the crowd when it ended, which I choose to interpret as “awe”.

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Posted in hee hee hee hee heeee, new ways to procrastinate
Like what you read?
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ta-wit ta-woo
Also I Write This Twitter Fiction Thing Called Aramis Fox
Quelle Grammage!
Look for the latest issue of Jutchy Ya Ya at your local Chewton post office. #Chewton #zines My boon companion on this working from home Friday. Kudos to you little orange jumpsuited elephant headed dude! This beach house is also a time machine. Long live cassettes. Slipstream doggie.

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