Tag Archives: historical fiction

The Mad Scientist and A Dusting of Mummies

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Vol. 2: The Mad Scientist and A Dusting of Mummies [Amazon, Publisher, Local Library] by Jacques Tardi. (In some places the title of the second story is given as Mummies on Parade, so in this intro blurb I’ve opted for the story title on the cover.) (The film adaptation includes material from the second story in this volume.)

Tardi The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec The Mad Scientist and A Dusting of Mummies

This second Fantagraphics reprint volume collects the third and fourth numbers of Jacques Tardi’s Adele Blanc-Sec stories: “The Mad Scientist” and “Mummies on Parade.” “The Mad Scientist” is very much in line with the earlier numbers with its modest pacing, bewildering plot, and droll character interactions. It focuses on the reanimation of a Pithecanthropus and his surprising behavior, and culminates in some spectacular violence on the streets of 1912 Paris. In “Mummies on Parade” Tardi really pulls out the stops, bringing together plot threads from almost all of the earlier stories, adding a mass revivification of Egyptian mummies, connecting Adele’s troubles with the wreck of the Titanic, and providing a downbeat ending after a somewhat hilarious cascade of mayhem. The art in “Mummies” is especially fine: there were several panels that I would be happy to enlarge and hang on my wall — though my tastes are rather outré!

Tardi The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele  Blanc-Sec The Mad Scientist and A Dusting of Mummies two panels from Mummies on Parade

Friendly Fire

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Friendly Fire [Amazon, Internet Archive, Local Library] by Hermetic Library Fellow Bob Black.

Black Friendly Fire

Friendly Fire is a pugilistic potpourri of texts by Black, with the author’s resilient animus as its only continuous thread. Even that fades considerably in Chapter VIII: his study of the Johnson presidential impeachment, plus a bibliography of Black’s legal scholarship. He wrote in 1985, “Postering has been my main political activity since 1977,” (171) and posters and poster-worthy one-liners are certainly where he does his best work. In this volume, those are represented in a selection of “Wanted Posters” as well as the pun-replete and epigraphical “Introduction to Neutron Gun.” I can’t help thinking that it’s almost a shame that he disdains an Internet connection, as his writing talents are peculiarly well-adapted to the 140-character burst–not that I follow anyone’s Twitterfeed, nor would Black seem to have any interest in “followers.”

The anarchist “organizers,” Libertarian small fry, publishers, and club proprietors that serve as Black’s principal foes in this volume provide generally less interesting grounds for counter-polemic than Murray Bookchin does in Black’s Anarchy after Leftism. Still, his invective has its usual entertainment value.

Sorcerer

Sorcerer: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth’s Alchemist by Geoffrey James, from Grand Mal Press, arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of the author.

Geoffrey James' Sorcerer from Grand Mal Press

 

“Based on actual diaries and historical accounts, Sorcerer: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth’s Alchemist breaks the barrier between fantasy and historical fiction, recreating a long-hidden real-life world of death, sex, politics and ritual magic.

The year is 1584. John Dee, the greatest scholar of his age, has turned from reputable science to forbidden magic. In partnership with a visionary rogue, an ex-nun and a court beauty, he’s flees across Europe, dogged by the Inquisition and a relentless assassin.

Finally, Dee’s magic seems to yield fruit. Angels (or are they demons?) promise to reveal the secret of transmuting lead into gold. There is only one hitch: Dee and his companions must first commit an unforgivable sin.” [via]

 

 

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