Nevermind what you’ve heard about the sophomore slump
Nick Harkaway’s second book is quite a delightful romp
This book is a genre mashup of epic proportions
The storyline goes on for decades through pleasing contortions
Filled with super spies, gregarious gangsters, and biomechanical bees
With an ancient evil from the Orient as the book’s big cheese.
A secret order of artisanal monks employed by the British Secret Service
- And already you should be feeling just a little bit nervous -
Built a doomsday device during the second World War
Decades later, the machine has gone missing, and that’s our story so far
Enter Joe the Clockmaker, son of a famous mobster
Who just wants to live his life right and keep lower than a lobster.
But when Joe is caught up in a game of cat and mouse
Between a crazy old woman and an evil old louse
He’ll find out that everyone is more than they seem
So Joe will need to be as well, just to survive the scene
This is a swashbuckler of a book filled with intrigue and action
And if you’re a fan of steampunk or sci-fi you’ll find some traction.
Like Nick’s last book this one is about the shadows of fathers on sons
It’s about finding out who you really are for the day to be won.
(My first review for Cannonball Read V! Go check them out here. Twenty-five more to go!)
Done been doodlin’!
I have an idea for an action sequence through a series of chasms covered in inky, volcanic spines. These giant creatures hide in their shells, camouflaged in this environment, until prey blunders by, and then - Chomp! Or possibly: Schlorp!
I can see these tentacles spiraling out in all directions, tugging the main body of the creature forward, through these tight tunnels and black schisms, snapping and clawing at our fleeing protagonists. It’ll be fun!
Also, if you think these look vile on their own, wait until you see what they look like when they’re torn out of their shells.
Oooh, I really just thought about it. That was braggadocio before! I didn’t know what they looked like. But I’ve got it now! It’ll be gruesome. Stay tuned!
I’ve been gone for a while. I’m going to work to fix that on a number of levels. First, I plan to:
For now, I wanted to call attention to the video above. It’s newly reelected President Obama addressing his main campaign office in the Second City. It’s a brief look at who the President really is, and I think it has something to say about how his personal beliefs inform his governing philosophies.
Aside from showing a deeply humane man expressing some beautiful sentiments, this video is further evidence that President Obama takes the long view when it comes to not just his administration, but the American Project. He speaks convincingly about his genuine belief that the next generation can build on what his has accomplished. Underlying his words I sense a conviction that more than anything, he simply has to ensure that this place is still recognizable as America, to ensure that American stories (upward mobility, inspiring moments of disparate cultures coming together in solidarity, etc.) are still probable, and the next generation will take care of the rest. It would be possible to spin that view as callow, I suppose, except that it’s obvious that the President isn’t letting himself off the hook, but simply investing great faith in the future.
Here’s where I think this dovetails with policy: Like a lot of liberals, I have occasionally felt like the President is willing to give away a great deal, too much, in return for getting very little from his cynical, obstructionist political opponents. At worst, we have felt that he may be willing to mortgage the future to secure the present. The main motivation behind that potent liberal angst is the idea, well sourced, that conservatives are deeply committed to a version of America that’s anathema to most progressives (and proudly so). Furthermore, much of the last two decades has felt like a slow retreat in the face of a motivated, driven force. And so, a President willing to compromise - where compromise can be credibly defined as losing a dollar to gain a quarter - feels like another step back down the hill of our inexorable decline. This video gives us a glimpse of the motivations behind the man who is our standard bearer, and shows us that the President may share a different view than many of us.
I don’t believe the President believes that tactical revisions - or even tactical retreats - are automatically imbued with a sense of historical inevitability. I have no doubt that this man shares bedrock liberal principals. He has been too consistent, to obviously human, for too long for prevarication on that score. And where liberals have been motivated by fear of incipient failure for so long, I now fully see a man truly motivated by hope for the future.
Even buoyed by Tuesday’s victories, the next couple of years will bring some disappointments. Some compromise and sacrifice will be required. Whether it should have come to this is another debate. We can and should still hold our political representatives to the fire, and drive them to serve the peoples’ interests, and not the will of the moneyed few. But entitlement reform is going to happen. If we have our druthers, we can stop these assholes from raising the qualifying age for Social Security. But I’ve been won over to the President’s view: Decline isn’t inevitable. Concessions aren’t failure, and giving up something now doesn’t mean giving up something forever. Demographics really are changing, and the concessions and realignments that have happened within the Democratic party over the last two decades, along with the ever increasing ideological rigidity of the Republican party, have led to sixty percent of voters under thirty seeing the liberal wing of their country as what it is (or has, at the least, become): The calm, kind, and competent steward of the country’s safety net. The modern Democratic party genuinely isn’t politically ideological in the way we used to refer to these things, but has instead begun to pair a social egalitarianism with a basic economic competency (Why are we in favor of a strong safety net? Because it leads to better outcomes for people. Why do we prefer drug treatment to incarceration? Because it leads to less recidivism. Why do we want to invest in a strong public education system? Because it’s investing in our future intellectual and economic capital. And on and on.) that the Republican’s fervor simply won’t allow them to perform. Younger voters see that, and despite many people’s claims to the contrary, we’re not going anywhere.
So we’ll end up giving up some things over the next few years. We’ll also entrench universal health care, and we’ll bring down spending (over time, the debt does need to be addressed, even if it isn’t critical right now), and we’ll work to settle some of these Entitlement questions, possibly in the way that Clinton dealt with Welfare: Not in a way that’s ultimately best, perhaps, but in a way that takes the issue off the table for decades while retaining the bulk of the program. And as time goes on, an ever-smarter and more informed electorate will take the place of some of these dried up relics, and we’ll hand the baton off to them, and they’ll build on what we’ve left them. The President is right: It will get better.
Well, maybe except for climate change. We could be pretty screwed there.
"But this was the Far West, where a man’s past, once it was discarded, buried or lost in a distant land, stayed that way."
Test, test…My first attempted post from my delicious new IPad using SketchbookPro (With a Wacom Bamboo stylus - still not sure what I think of it.) and Tumblerina to post! Nothing great going on here; just an attempt to learn the program. Okay! Let’s see how this looks! *crosses fingers* *clicks post*
Some head shots of Maccabee, my gothic little Will-o-the-wisp. I’m pretty happy with most of these, but what do you think? Any suggestions? My last two questions to wrestle with are: What does she dress like? I want to marry a certain classic, timeless sense of fantasy with a little 90’s, West coast goth sensibility. Not sure what that looks like, especially on her alien physiology, which brings me to question two: While you can’t see much of her body in these sketches, at least one shows that I’m going for a slightly insectoid, but largely humanoid form. I want her to be spindly and wiry, but I have questions about how human I want her body to appear to be. I’ve considered a much more bee-like body type, with four wispy legs attached to a thorax like structure. I’ll try and get some sketches of that up, but I’d love input.
I’ve done a fair bit of work on the story’s underpinnings in the last week; I’ll try and figure out how to turn some of that into a blog post soon. Have a good one!
Here’s a sketch I put together yesterday. Tentatively, I’m calling this the Council Tree, and I hope for it to have a place in A Troll Tale (working title) at some point; I have a few ideas, but nothing definitive. There are three types of creature heads coming from the tree: Goats, lions, and snakes - the three beasts that make up a Chimera. I imagine this might be some sort of divining and/or adjudicating presence among the beasts of the forest.
What do you think? I’m relatively happy with the art, for the most part, though I didn’t end up with as dynamic a perspective shot as I was hoping for. I wanted the sense that the tree was looming up above the viewer, but I ended up with more of a straight on shot (4/5th angled at best). Should have made stronger anchor and perspective lines before I really started on the line-work.
I’m approaching planning this story more systematically than I was with HAMDO; in the last few days I’ve gotten some good work in on the underpinnings of the world, and the rough geography that my characters will cover. Coming up with the look of the story’s Teen-Goth Faerie is brutalizing me though, which is something of a problem, since she’s one of my two main characters. I think I’ve come up with her name, though: Maccabee (any ancient Israel history buffs out there?).
I’ll try to identify artifacts of my process worth posting as I go, and continue to come up with “definitive” versions of my characters and landscapes to share with you. Would love to hear any thoughts on this one!