GITS: Stand Alone Complex Official Log, Vol. 1

GITS-SAC-Official-Log-1This superb book is an Official Guide to the Stand Alone Complex TV series and offers an in-depth analysis of the background story as well as the production development. It features an introduction to the Ghost In The Shell’s world (manga, movies, video games, etc.), character profiles and designs, mechanical designs, synopses and background notes for the first 19 episodes, interviews with the creative staff and an essay on the science of Ghost In The Shell. It also includes an exclusive 90-min. DVD with never-before-seen footage, a documentary on the digital animation techniques used for the series and more interviews with the staff and cast.

This type of high-quality art book usually comes in a larger format, but if the 6 x 8.5 inches size is more practical it also means fewer and smaller illustrations presented in a more cramped layout. Still, the Official Log is quite useful when it comes to better understanding the complex story of the Ghost In The Shell TV series. It is a must-have for all serious anime fans!  

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Official Log, Vol. 1 (by collective; editor, Robert Place Napton). [Cypress, CA] : Bandai / Manga Entertainment / Production I.G., October 2005. 148 pages (64 in colour) [DVD: Cat.# 25180, Subtitled, 90 min.]; Limited Edition (only 15,000 copy released), $49.98 US, rated 13+, ISBN: 1-59409-571-X. stars-4-0

Review originally published in PA #87 : 63 (December 2005 / January 2006). There is also a second volume but I haven’t seen it and therefore cannot comment on it. The book is old but seems to still be available online.

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Ghost In The Shell (manga)

I’ll continue on the thematic of Ghost in the shell for a little while… I dug out those two reviews of the original GITS manga respectively published in PA #83: 20 (March-April 2005) and PA #84: 20 (June-July 2005) — however I have relativized the original rating. Note that I had already (briefly) reviewed those manga along with the live-action movie and that I have also reviewed The Ghost in the Shell Perfect Edition, tome 1.5 : [ Human Error Processer ] on this blog.

Ghost In The Shell

Ghost_in_the_shell-1-covA totally superb book! This second edition offers the original Japanese size (5.75” x 8.25” which is a smaller, more convenient size than the original English edition, but still easy to read contrary to the 4” x 6” of Lone Wolf & Cub) and some extra pages that were originally cut because they were too racy (hence the 18+ rating and the parental advisory for explicit content). It is a nice thick book, with glossy paper, that has a good feel when held. Shirow’s artwork might be of variable quality, varying from the beautiful colour illustrations to the sketchy SD characters, but his story is solid and profound (although a little too technical by moments). Most of this first volume offers the framework for the first movie (with some variations and more details), but you can also find a few ideas that were used for the Stand Alone Complex TV series, and the sixth chapter is the basis for the story of the second movie. A classic and a must. 

Ghost in the shell (攻殻機動隊 / Kōkaku Kidōtai / Mobile Armored Riot Police) by Masamune Shirow (translated by Frederik L Schodt and Toren Smith). Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Manga, October 2004. 368 pg. $24.95 US / $33.99 Can. ISBN 1-59307-228-7. For adult readership (18+). See the back cover. stars-3-5

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Ghost In The Shell #2: Man-Machine Interface

Ghost_in_the_shell-2-covLike the first volume, this one is really a superb book. Even more than the first, since there is three time more colour pages, the designs are much nicer and the art is more detailed (particularly in the colour pages – however, a problem in the reproduction of the screen-tone sometimes creates an annoying shimmering effect in the B&W art). It is a more mature work. The story is more serious and complex, to the point that it becomes difficult to follow and understand. That’s the major drawback of the book. Motoko has merged with the Puppet Master and swims freely in the virtual sea of information. She has moved to the private sector and works as the head of security for Poseidon Industrial. Her new nature allows her to move from one artificial body to another, which is quite convenient in her line of work, but makes the story even more confusing. On top of that you have Shirow’s philosophical reflection on life, intelligence and existence. Besides the main character, the story of this book has not much to do with the first part. The art is sublime and the story challenging. A must. 

Ghost In The Shell #2: Man-Machine Interface, by Masamune Shirow (translated by Frederik L Schodt and Toren Smith). Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Manga, January 2005. 312 pages (mostly in colour, with 106 in B&W), flipped, $24.95 US / $32.00 Can, ISBN 978-1-59307-204-9. For adult readership (18+, Lots of nudity & Violence). See the back cover. stars-4-0

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Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex (manga)

“Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex takes place in the year 2030, in the fictional Japanese city of New Port. The story follows the members of Public Security Section 9, a special-operations task-force made up of former military officers and police detectives. The manga presents individual cases that Section 9 investigates, along with an ongoing, more serious investigation into the serial killer and hacker known only as “The Laughing Man.””

GITS-SAC-1-covVolume 1: No mission too dangerous. No case too cold. When a high-ranking government official is kidnapped, the Prime Minister must call in his top crime fighting force known as Section 9. Led by the beautiful (and deadly) Major Kusanagi, the cybernetically enhanced squad must use all their skill to take down the kidnappers and rescue the hostages. But that’s only half of the mission; can Kusanagi and company find out who’s behind the kidnapping, and, more importantly, just what they’re after? Find out in this thrilling first volume of The Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex!”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 1: Section 9, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 256 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-935-42985-2, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

GITS-SAC-2-covVolume 2: The best offense is a strong defence? An advanced tech tank is on the loose and appears hell bent on heading into the city. To make matters worse, it has impenetrable defenses and all conventional efforts to stop its progress have failed. Now it’s up to Major Kusanagi and Section 9 to find a way to stop the tank’s inexorable march toward an unknown fate in the city!”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 2: Testation, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 288 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-935-42986-9, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

GITS-SAC-3-cov“Volume 3: Identifying the enigmatic hero. Marcelo Jarti, the hero of a democratic revolution, and South American drug dealer, has been coming to Japan periodically and no one knows why. The Major and Section 9 track his movements after he makes his latest appearance in the country. They are determined to figure out the meaning of his visits, but following Jarti leads to more than they could have possibly expected …”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 3: Idolator, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 224 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-612-62094-7, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

GITS-SAC-4-covVolume 4: The power of misdirection. Section 9 receives a tip that a criminal group from Henan is planning on attacking a financial institution. To prevent the attack, Section 9 infiltrates the secret base of the criminals. The mission goes well and the threat is neutralized … or is it? Something is amiss, and Major Kusanagi and Section 9 must act quickly in order to stop the criminals from achieving their true goal.”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 4: ¥€$, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 208 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-61262-095-4, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

GITS-SAC-5-covVolume 5: Ageless new world. 16 years ago a terrorist group called the “New World Brigade” kidnapped a young girl named Eka Tokura. However, recent photos of Eka have surfaced and she appears to look exactly as she did 16 years ago. To investigate this mystery, the special unit of the Maritime Safety Agency was dispatched to a man-made island off the coast of Okinawa that has been seized by the Brigade. However, communication with the special unit has been lost, leaving this island and the Brigade in a shroud of secrets. Section 9 is tasked with the job of finding out what happened on this man-made island and discovering the truth behind Eka’s age-defying looks.”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 5: Not Equal, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 288 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-61262-556-0, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

[Texts from the publisher’s website]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

GITS-SAC-1-p040I have already introduced the Ghost in the shell story created by Masamune Shirow when I talked about the live-action adaptation and the book 1.5 of the manga. However, my favourite part of GITS franchise was the anime TV series Stand Alone Complex. It is a police story with lots of human drama set in a post-cyberpunk environment. The TV series format allowed to make a great deal of character development for all the protagonists, the members of Section 9 Public Security unit. Usually, an anime is based on a manga but exceptionally, in this case, it is the opposite: the anime TV series came first (in 2002-2005) and this manga is a VERY faithful adaptation of a selection of five episodes (out of the fifty-two episodes of the TV series).

The seinen manga of Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex (攻殻機動隊 Stand Alone Complex / Koukaku Kidoutai S.A.C.) was first serialized in Weekly Young Magazine (December 2009 – March 2010) and then in Gekkan [monthly] Young Magazine (April 2010 – December 2012) before being compiled in five volumes by Kodansha. It was translated in English by Kodansha Comics (2011-14) and in French by Glénat (2013-14). The English version is also available in digital format at ComiXology.

I like Ghost in the shell in general because it is a great cyberpunk story: people can get cyber-enhancements, the internet (the “network”) is everything, everywhere and can be used in unimaginable ways. The story also has strong social and political aspects, as it give a glimpse of a fascinating techno-dystopian future (which seems popular in Japan). In this context the “ghost” refer to the aspect of the mind that makes it unique and self-aware (the soul) even when it is digitized and uploaded to a cyber-brain or to the net, the “shell” is the body (biological or cybernetic) and the “standalones” are those who “remain outside the system” (not cyber-enhanced? air-gapped?). 

GITS-SAC-3-p085

Vol. 3, p. 85

However, I prefer the Stand Alone Complex series (both anime and manga) because I feel it offers the best designs (mostly of the characters) and storytelling (its TV series format allows for more development of both the characters and storyline). The anime movie (directed by Mamoru Oshii) was awesome but really too philosophical. By side-stepping the “puppet master” story arc, SAC is able to tell more stories of the most interesting character, Major Motoko Kusanagi, and to develop her background story in a very interesting way. Similarly, the orignal manga by Masamune Shirow is superb but the art is too detailed and the story too complex to be easily enjoyed. Shirow’s art also lacks consistency, looking sometimes very serious and sometimes (to be humorous) quite caricatural. With this new manga by Yu Kinutani the art is cleaner, more serious and steady while still being detailed enough. It is therefore much more enjoyable. The storytelling and layout follow closely the TV series (often even adding more scenes to make the action easier to follow in a static medium) so it almost feels like a storyboard.

Each volume of the manga series is adapting one episode of the TV anime. Volume one retell the story from episode 1 “Section 9”, vol. 2 covers the episode 2 “Testation”, vol. 3 recount the episode 7 “Idolater”, vol. 4 is about the episode 14 “¥€$” and vol. 5 give us its take on the episode 13 “Not Equal”. Volumes 1 and 4 also include three bonus short stories from the “Tachikoma Days” manga by Masayuki Yamamoto. Those are funny episodes involving the multi-legged artificial intelligence tanks (think tanks) called the Tachikoma — echoing the capsule video at the end of each episode of the TV series.

GITS-SAC-3-p205

Vol. 3, p. 205

One annoying thing from Ghost in the shell (mostly for feminists and people unfamiliar with the franchise) is the way the Major is dressing: in a very provocative and sexy way. This is part fan service, of course, but the character has also a reason to do so. A full-cyber body (even if it has a generous feminine shape) feels and looks a bit cold and asexual, therefore the Major wears very alluring clothing to claim and express her femininity.  I imagine she might think something like “with a body like this it’s better to show it” or maybe, feeling a little like a doll, she wants to dress like one. It also offers an element of surprise: nobody expects someone looking like her to be so strong and kick-ass!

Finally, my greatest disappointment about the GITS Stand Alone Complex manga series is that there are only five volumes. I guess it would have taken too much work and time to adapt all fifty-two episodes of the TV series. It is just too bad. However, if you want more, you still have the TV series — which was also complemented by three novels (available from Dark Horse), two OVA (The Laughing Man, Individual Eleven) and a movie (GITS: SAC – Solid State Society)…

I am already a big fan of GITS and of cyberpunk stories, but I particularly like this manga series because it offers strong designs and art, excellent storytelling and constitute an easy read. It is quite enjoyable if you like investigative stories with lots of action (sometime quite violent), rich socio-political themes and that are set in a cyberpunk future. I must admit that it has been a long time since I took so much pleasure in the reading a manga. I highly recommend it. stars-4-5

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

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© 2010-2013 Yu Kinutani • Shirow Masamune • Production I.G. / Kodansha. English translation © 2011-2014 Yu Kinutani • Shirow Masamune • Production I.G. / Kodansha. 

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L’Histoire en Manga (2)

T. 2, L’antiquité grecque et romaine

Histoire_en_manga-2-covL’Histoire en Manga: Une collection pour découvrir toute l’Histoire en image.

“De la guerre de Troie racontée par Homère à l’émergence de la démocratie athénienne, des conquêtes d’Alexandre le Grand à la naissance de la culture grecque, du règne de César à la naissance du christianisme, ce manga raconte… l’antiquité grecque et romaine.”

“170 pages de bandes dessinées pour plonger avec plaisir dans l’Histoire… avec en + … des pages explicatives pour chaque chapitre, un cahier documentaire en fin d’ouvrage pour restituer les évènements dans leur contexte, des frises chronologiques, et des cartes…”

[Texte de la couverture arrière; voir aussi le site de l’éditeur ]

Après un premier volume qui nous introduisait à la préhistoire et au moyen-orient ancien, cette série de manga éducatif (Gakushū manga) se poursuit avec l’antiquité grecque et romaine. Ce second volume était originalement intitulé Gakken Manga — Nouvelle Histoire du Monde, 2: Le monde grec, romain et méditerranéen  [ 学研まんが NEW世界の歴史  2 ギリシア・ローマと地中海世界 / Gakken Manga nyū Sekai no Rekishi 2: Girishia, rōma to Chichūkai sekai ].

L’artiste a changé et on note une amélioration dans la qualité du dessin. La narration et le découpage du récit est conçu pour son effet dramatique afin de préserver l’intérêt du lecteur malgré le sujet un peu trop académique. Cette fois, je n’ai pas noté de fautes orthographiques ou factuelles (ce qu’il ne veut pas dire qu’il n’y en a pas). Toutefois, le principal défaut de l’ouvrage réside dans le fait que l’on tente de raconter plus de trois-mille ans d’histoire en moins de deux-cent pages. On y présente donc que les faits saillants d’une histoire pourtant riche en détails. Périclès est traité en à peine deux pages! Trente-six pages pour César et la République romaine (avec quelques pages consacrées à Cléopâtre — qui faisait d’ailleurs la couverture de l’édition japonaise) et à peine vingt-cinq pages pour l’Empire romain qui n’est d’ailleurs présenté qu’à travers l’histoire du Christianisme… Un cours éclair donc.

C’est néanmoins un bon manga éducatif qui peut servir à introduire le lecteur (jeune ou adulte) à l’histoire du monde d’une façon intéressante et divertissante.

L’Histoire en Manga: T. 2, L’antiquité grecque et romaine, par Fûta Kanta (dessin) et Hidehisa Nanbô (texte) (Traduction par Aurélien Estager). Montrouge: Bayard Jeunesse, septembre 2017. 192 pages, 16 x 23.5 cm, 12,90 € / $C 24.95. ISBN 978-2-7470-8391-1. Pour lectorat adolescent (11+ ans). stars-3-0

Vous trouverez plus d’information sur les sites suivants:

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© Gakken Plus 2016. © Bayard Édition, 2017 pour la traduction française.

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L’Histoire en Manga (1)

T. 1, Les débuts de l’humanité

Histoire_en_manga-1-cov“L’éditeur scolaire japonais GAKKEN propose une collection de 12 tomes racontant l’histoire du monde. Dessins typiques du manga, couleurs saturées, scénario avec personnages servent à illustrer les grands épisodes de l’histoire.

Dans ce premier tome on découvre les débuts de l’humanité; le big bang, puis la Préhistoire et l’Antiquité égyptienne. Des pages chronologiques encadrent l’ouvrage. Un cahier de 32 pages documentaires richement illustrées vient étoffer les informations distillées dans les épisodes, ainsi que de nombreux compléments regroupés en fin de chapitre.”

[Texte du site de l’éditeur; voir aussi la couverture arrière]

J’ai déjà mentionné dans un billet (”Educational Manga“) que les mangas, en plus d’être très divertissants, pouvaient avoir une grande valeur éducative. Au-delà des adaptations de grands classiques littéraires et des nombreux mangas historiques, il existe au Japon plusieurs séries de manga qui ont pour but d’introduire auprès d’un public jeune l’histoire du Japon ou du monde d’une manière pédagogique, voir même encyclopédique. Il s’agit des Gakushū manga ou manga d’apprentissage. 

Je n’aurait jamais cru pouvoir lire ce genre de manga en traduction. Et pourtant, en novembre dernier, en périphérie du Salon du Livre de Montréal, j’ai découvert chez Bayard Jeunesse une collection qui nous raconte L’Histoire en manga (mes deux sujets favoris!). La collection comporte (pour l’instant) huit volumes: v.1 Les débuts de l’humanité, v.2 L’antiquité grecque et romaine, v.3 L’Inde et la Chine antiques, v.4 D’Attila à Guillaume le Conquérant, v.5 De l’empire mongol à la Guerre de Cent ans, v.6 La Renaissance et les grandes découvertes, v.7 L’Histoire en Europe de la Reine Elisabeth à Napoléon (incluant la révolution industrielle), v.8 De la conquête de l’Amérique à la Commune de Paris. L’édition originale japonaise comporte douze volumes (il en resterait donc quatre à paraître).

Le premier volume, originalement intitulé Gakken Manga — Nouvelle Histoire du Monde, Volume 1: Les Temps préhistoriques et l’Orient ancien [ 学研まんが NEW世界の歴史  第1卷 先史時代と古代オリエント / Gakken Manga nyū Sekai no Rekishi 1Kan: Senshi Jidai to Kodai Oriento], nous introduit à l’histoire des débuts de l’Humanité, de la préhistoire au moyen-orient ancient. Le récit utilise comme prétexte trois collégiens turbulents qui se font coller en punition un exposé sur les débuts de l’humanité qu’ils réalisent grâce à l’aide de leur professeur de physique.

Évidemment, dans ce genre de manga documentaire, la qualité graphique n’est pas vraiment une priorité alors le dessin est plutôt moyen — mais il est en couleurs. Aussi, compte tenu de l’ampleur du sujet, on nous raconte tout cela en accéléré (moins de deux cents pages pour couvrir quelques millions d’années d’histoire!). Et bien sûr on retrouve plusieurs fautes d’orthographes et quelques erreurs factuelles (ou de frappe? Possiblement due à la traduction ou au lettreur?). Par exemple, on place la révolution agricole à “59 000 ans avant notre ère” alors que l’on voulait probablement dire 9500 ans… Mais dans l’ensemble c’est assez juste et c’est complété par un dossier qui reprend l’information couverte par le manga sous forme de texte.

Même si ce genre de manga s’adresse surtout à un public jeune (onze ans et plus), cela reste intéressant pour tout âge. Au Japon, ces mangas sont souvent utilisé comme des manuels scolaires alors pourquoi n’en ferions-nous pas autant ici? Cela reste une bonne lecture relativement divertissante et assez éducative. C’est sans aucun doute l’ouvrage idéal pour intéresser un jeune lecteur à l’histoire du monde.

L’Histoire en Manga: T. 1, Les débuts de l’humanité, par Hirofumi Katô (dessin) et Hidehisa Nanbô (texte) (Traduction par Aurélien Estager). Montrouge: Bayard Jeunesse, septembre 2017. 192 pages, 16 x 23.5 cm, 12,90 € / $C 24.95. ISBN 978-2-7470-8390-4. Pour lectorat adolescent (11+ ans). stars-3-0

Vous trouverez plus d’information sur les sites suivants:

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© Gakken Plus 2016. © Bayard Édition, 2017 pour la traduction française.

Vous pouvez aussi voir sur Youtube la bande annonce de la série (en japonais):

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Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

y648While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Not one but two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son and contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother — her ex-boyfriend — Tim.

With Tish’s co-workers in the dark about her connection to Jeff outside the workplace, she volunteers to attend the funeral on the company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life. Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, our personal choices and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

[Text from the publisher’s website; see also the back cover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

My wife is a member of the Montreal’s Sherlock Holmes fan club, called The Bimetallic Question. Every year in January they are holding a formal dinner to celebrate his birthday. They always have a special guest speaker to talk about his/her work and share thoughts about a Sherlockian topic. It is usually a local writer or a Gazette columnist. Last year it was Montreal mystery writer Christopher Huang (I read and commented his book A Gentleman’s murder on this blog). This year on January 18th, being available, I decided to come with my wife to this “Master’s Birthday” dinner to meet this colourful crowd I was hearing so much about but mostly to listen to the guest speaker, writer Catherine McKenzie [ BiblioFBGoodreadsGoogleWeb ]. 

Born and raised in Montreal, she studied law at McGill University and now practices litigation in a boutique law firm. She has published nearly a dozen books: Spin (2009), Arranged (May 2012), Forgotten (October 2012), Hidden (2013), Spun (2014), Smoke (2015), Fractured (2016), The murder game (written in 2007 but only published in 2016 under the pen name Julie Apple — and used as plot device in Fractured), The good liar (2018), and — her latest  I’ll never tell (2019). Her next book (coming in June 2020) will be You Can’t Catch Me. She has also co-written First Street, a serialized audiobook, and published short stories in a couple of anthologies (J.T. Ellison’s A Thousand doors; J. McFetridge & J. Filippi’s Montreal Noir).

A brief sample of McKenzie presentation

I chose to read Hidden by chance, selecting it among the titles available at the library (as I couldn’t get her latest title on time to start reading it before her guest appearance at the dinner). Because McKenzie was invited to speak at the club dinner, I assumed that she was a mystery or crime writer, but Hidden is neither. McKenzie started her career writing Women’s fiction (sometimes called Chick-lit). With Hidden (and later with Fractured and The good liar) she moved into Psychological fiction with a slight touch of a thriller. Although her characters often move in the legal world (law firms and courts), she starts putting elements of crime fiction into her writing only with I’ll never tell and You can’t catch me.

Hidden is very well written. It offers a compelling story about grief and adultery that knows how to keep the interest of the reader. Her characters sound quite true, so when the storytelling builds up with tension you really feel for them. She even manage a little twist at the end. I enjoyed reading this novel but couldn’t avoid being annoyed by the narration at the first person, done by three different characters — including the guy who died at the beginning of the novel! That’s rather unusual. I would have preferred that she put the name of the narrating character in the title of each chapter (I’ve seen this in other books). That way it would not have taken me a few pages into each new chapter before figuring out who the narrator was this time…

I also noticed that she “lied” in her presentation at the club. When asked if she based her characters on herself she said categorically “no”, arguing that when editors say “write about what you know“ it is a misconception that authors write about themselves. In the contrary, my experience in the literary world tells me that writers (consciously or not) always put a part of themselves into some of their characters. McKenzie characters are often working in the legal world so she clearly uses part of “what she knows” (her own experience as a woman, as a mother, as a lawyer) to create the setting of her fictions. In Hidden (p. 303), Jeff accused Tish of having lied about her golf handicap but she answers that she told him about her bad putting when they first met, adding “I have perfect recall of conversations.” McKenzie used this exact sentence, verbatim, during her presentation as she was explaining that she was sometimes using in her books real conversations she had had or had heard. I rest my case.

Hidden was a very good reading. I enjoyed it greatly. It’s nice sometimes to read a simple book about the complex life of everyday people. I’ll certainly try to read more of Catherine McKenzie’s work.

Hidden, by Catherine McKenzie. Toronto: HarperCollins, June 2013. 360 pages, 14 x 21.5 in, $C 19.99. ISBN 978-1-44341-190-5. For young adult (16+). stars-3-5

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWorldCat ]

© 2013 by Catherine McKenzie

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Mortal Engines

Mortal-Engines-2018-movie-posterVisionary filmmaker Peter Jackson presents a startling new adventure unlike any you’ve seen before. Hundreds of years after our civilisation was destroyed, a new world has emerged. A mysterious young woman named Hester Shaw leads a band of outcasts in the fight to stop London — now a giant predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path.

[Promo text from the dvd sleeve]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

In an improbable but quite beautiful steampunk future, cities made themselves mobile in order to gather more ressources and survive the man-made apocalypse. Not much of the technology displayed seems realistic. I doubt that putting the city of London on wheels would be physically possible as the mechanical parts of the engine would crumble under its own weight… Despite the very simple and unoriginal story (young rebels, full of love and thirsty for vengeance, trying to defeat evil and power hungry madmen) the superb background settings and great special effects make this movie very entertaining. Unfortunately, it seems that it was not enough for the audience as it failed at the box office and received low ratings from the critics (6.1 on IMDb, 27% / 49% on Rotten Tomatoes). Interesting facts, the movie is directed by Christian Rivers but has the marks of Peter Jackson all over it (as one of the script writers and producers, sfx by Weta). It is also based on a series of YA novels written by Philip Reeve.

Some critic called it a “steampunk Star Wars”. I see it more as an allegory alluding to western societies which consume (in both meaning of eating and destroying) everything in their path, as opposed to more peaceful and nature-friendly eastern societies. Mortal engines is an intriguing movie that will feed your imagination and provide great entertainment. It’s certainly worth seeing. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMDbOfficialWikipedia ]

Also, you can check the official trailer on Youtube:

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