Sunday, October 16, 2005

gilson's avigon

Avigon has to escape. A beautiful clockwork given sentience by her creator, Avigon has begun questioning who she is and whether she is human. Everything around her is mechanical; robots – clockworks – are designed to act as bodyguards, servants, mechanics, and there’s more than a few “pleasure” clockworks roaming the streets. Each day Avigon winds herself with a specially programmed key and each day she feels as if her soul is dying. There’s no challenge or future in being a clockwork. She realizes that there is only one thing she can do – run away. But can she hide in a surreal world of machines where she herself is one? Along her journey, Avigon falls in love, but she also learns that there is truth to her creator’s statement that a clockwork can never be human. Several years ago, Ché Gilson released a graphic novel called Avigon, which told the story of a robot girl who runs away from her master to the outside world and the painful lesson she learns there. In this updated version, Gilson and illustrator Jimmie Robinson give the background of Avigon and provide us with what happens when Avigon returns home. The duo work well together. Gilson’s style of writing may be minimalistic, but it is not bare of emotion. Robinson’s use of black and white and greyscale adds to the somber tone. The drawings are simple, yet dramatic, similar in style to Tim Burton.

elster's what in the word?

For the fan of random thoughts and word play, this book has it all. Every chapter features original brainteasers, challenging puzzles, and a trove of literary trivia. Want to know the meaning behind “pushing the envelope”? Would you have guessed that most people mispronounce Brontë (it rhymes with Monty). Did you know that the phrase “happy as a clam” is really an abbreviated form of the simile “happy as a clam at high tide”? Perhaps you’re looking for that perfect word to describe something very unique. Charles Harrington Elster has it all. Elster uses a lively question-and-answer format to cover a variety of topics, word and phrase origins, slang, style, usage, punctuation, and pronunciation. While the book is enjoyable as a browsing book, it would’ve benefited from having an index. As it is, the book is fun for casual reading, but not for those coming to the book with a serious question. Although it’s not an ideal reference book, it’ll benefit those who are curious and those looking for some brainteasers.

lundberg's olympic wandering: time travel through greece

Part travelogue, part mythological tale, David Lundberg’s book takes the reader on a journey through time to prove that the Greek people are the modern day equivalents of the characters in the Iliad and the Odyssey. The first part of the book follows the seldom-told tale of Ulysses’s life as a young king in Greece and the events leading up to and after the Trojan War. The second half of the book focuses on Lundberg’s travels to the various Greek Islands and other parts of Greece, weaving together travel narrative, history, and culture. Lundberg masterfully utilizes historic references as a framework for introducing the reader to modern day Greece and Greek culture. The first half of the book reads as both a novella and a history book. There’s plenty of adventure, from Ulysses’s quest to find Achilles to his 10-year perilous trip home after the war. Lundberg places the reader alongside Ulysses. Readers need not know much about Greek history or Greece before they pick up this book, as everything is explained in an easy to understand manner. In the second half of the book, the reader follows Lundberg in his travels across Greece and her many islands. By using this approach to history and culture, Lundberg shows that the people of Greece embody everything that existed in Ulysses’s time. Although the few illustrations in the book serve mainly as decoration, Lundberg’s descriptions of the scenery and people provide more than enough information to paint a vivid portrait of Greece.