mai
19

The Lost World

You may recognise the title from the screen adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name; however I would like to talk to you about the first novel sporting this title: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original The Lost World, which has little in common with the film. Perhaps his most famous work after the Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, it depicts the fictional expedition, lead by Professor Challenger, into the Amazon and more specifically onto a mysterious and seemingly unreachable plateau.

400px-Cover_(The_Lost_World,_1912)The point of view from which the story is delivered is, for me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the novel. The events are related through the letters young reporter, Edward Malone, sends to his editor. Indeed each chapter is addressed to Mr McArdle and starts by either a short recap of previous events or by immediately setting the mood when the expedition group are in a tense situation. Doyle even plays on this sometimes having Edward write as though he only hopes his letters to be found when he is unsure of surviving or whether the letter reaches its correspondent at all.

This would have been particularly effective at the time of this novel’s first release (in 1912) as it was published serially in a well-known magazine. Although I wish I too could have experienced such a fresh and suspenseful reading, I found that the overall tone set by Doyle through Edward’s eyes and pen was still very entertaining. Moreover this novel being such a classic nowadays I already knew some of the main plot points, but nonetheless I caught myself several times pondering excitedly about events to come or the resolution of some predicaments the protagonist is in.

Not only is suspense well built in and between chapters but The Lost World handles the theme of discovery and exploration masterfully. Indeed it features great descriptions of the lush Amazonian jungle, taking us through what transpired as quite a varied landscape. The narration of the long journey to the actual destination and the preparations made, prior and during, really conveys the feeling of being involved in the expedition. Doyle manages to intrigue, if not amaze, his reader throughout the book.

The main characters composing the core of the expedition team are all well fleshed out and intriguing in their own right but the portrayal of the peculiar Professor Challenger outshines the rest. Behind the instigation of the whole journey he is depicted as an irascible individual convinced of his intellectual superiority, very provocative, aggressive even, in his speech and also prone to resorting to violence. He is a very interesting character whose interventions further contribute to the dynamic rhythm of the novel. Doyle later wrote four other stories featuring this prominent figure among the protagonists.

I will end this post by a warning, or at least a caution, some passages may shock you slightly as an underlying assumption of white superiority can be felt and more broadly that there is a hierarchy of “races”. Especially when it comes to the way the leading members of the team consider the rest of their party, composed mostly of natives. [Minor spoiler ahead] Notably it can also be perceived in their reaction to a specific primitive tribe and what they deem as acceptable or natural in how they treat them. However I thought this dated perception was rather enlightening; as long as you are well aware of it, the differences in mentalities helps to emphasise the changes since then. It can also be appreciated as a way to contextualise this piece of work and to some degree “ease into” a similar reading atmosphere, a kind of sample if you will.

 

-Guillaume C.

 

mai
14

Book presentation: Stephen King’s « The Dark Tower » cycle

Hello everyone!

I bet you know Stephen King. You loved the movies adapted from his books. Shining, Mist, Misery, Desolation… no, not The Lawnmower Man. Please. Anyway, great movies, but I think you haven’t read his books (I mean, the books that were not adapted into a movie or a TV show). What a huge mistake. Stephen King is an excellent writer, and almost all of his books are masterpieces. If you have the opportunity, read some, they absolutely worth it. Try to read Cellular, because a film based on it will be out in 2016. Basically, it is a story about people becoming zombies because of their phones (it is a bit more complex than that, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, sorry).

But I’m not writing an article about that. I’m here to talk about the major book series by Stephen King, The Dark Tower series. It’s a set of 8 books that tell the story of Roland of Gilead, travelling the Mid-World to find the Dark Tower. The Mid-World is an imaginary world invented by Stephen King when he was young, alcoholic, and addicted to heroin.

So, here is the background: the Mid-World is a parallel world that has lots of connections with our world. It is a blend of magic, chivalry, post-apocalyptic sci-fi and old westerns. The Mid-World and our world are maintained by 12 Beams, some sort of pure primal energy. The Dark Tower is in the center of all the Beams, and therefore its destruction would end the two worlds. Bad luck, some dark sorcerers want to destroy it, to create another world where they would be gods.

 

The Dark Tower

A concept art made by Guillermo del Torro. No big deal.

The main character is Roland of Gilead, the only remaining Gunslinger, an old order of knights founded by King Arthur. Roland has been trying to find the Dark Tower for years, without success. But somehow, he manages to enter our world and meets his future companions: Eddie, a junkie from the eighties, Odetta, a legless schizophrenic lady from the fifties, and Jake, a kid from the nineties.
Together, they will travel the Mid-World to find the Dark Tower.

latestThis is an un-official map of the Mid-World.

But, you know, sometimes, the journey is more important than the destination. Stephen King created a very complete world, with lots of elements, stories, cities, and characters. Roland and his companions will travel around this world and meet tons of people, villages, enemies, and will hear lots of stories. The places vary a lot from book to book: a post-apocalyptic city with a civil war, the remnants of old kingdoms, small villages with lots of traditions, huge forests, and even a time-travelling station.
The descriptions are very precise and it’s really easy to imagine yourself in that world, imagining extraordinary places, and roaming around with Roland. And if you can’t, there is a lot of fan art on the interwebs.

darktowerlongroad

Another very interesting thing, is that All of King’s books are connected with The Dark Tower series. If you read Black House (Territoires in French), From a Buick 8 (Roadmaster in French), Hearts in Atlantis or even Mist and Shining, you will see connections, sometimes obvious. In Black House, the final part of the story takes place in Thunderclap (Tonnefoudre in French), a very hostile place in the Mid-World. In Hearts in Atlantis, there is even a common character: the main character of this story is helping Roland in the 6th book. But the best and best exploited connection is definitely Mist. If you know the Dark Tower extended universe, you can guess where the mist and the creatures come from. I will not spoil it for you of course, but if you are a fan of Stephen King like I am it is really awesome to have additional knowledge of the stories because you’ve read The Dark Tower.

So, anyway, if you like Stephen King and you have lots of free time (the 8 books are about 4500 pages), give it a shot. It’s totally worth it. Plus, huge news, Sony Pictures decided to fund the Dark Tower movie project, by Guillermo del Torro. So, if you want to say to your friends “Oh my god, the books are SO much better than the movie”, you’d better start reading now 😉

Yours in reading,

Grégoire Meyer

avr
18

Freaks’ Squeele

freaks_01

Have you ever wanted to know how super-heroes came to be what they are nowadays ? How did they learn their skills and gain their fame ? If yes, then wait no more, and check out this fantastic series !

Freaks’ Squeele

Freaks’ Squeele is a comic book series, written and illustrated by Florent Maudoux. It tells the tale of Xiong Mao (a young normal « human » woman) and her two friends Chance (a demonic girl) and Ombre (a big nice wolf) as they enter the super-hero cursus of the F.E.A.H. academy. But, it is not so easy to become a super-hero… And between the classes and the crazy projects, to which you can add some problems with the management of the university and the bad relationship with students from other schools, life is not so simple for our three wannabes heroes !

The books are mostly in black and white, creating beautiful images based on light work, but there is always one colored chapter, which is also quite nice to see. The style of the author is frankly amazing, with a lot a realism, which is directly inspired from manga and cinema. It creates a very dynamic alliance, with a lot of details and different viewpoints.

 

freaks_ok

 

There are also a lot, and by a lot I mean truly a lot, of references from different genres. You will stumble upon a look-alike character of Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, and then see the face of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a photo without any warnings, before discovering that the archive’s room in the library seems quite familiar! And oh, where are your old Gaston Lagaffe comic books again so that you can check a thing or two ? And those are only three of a wider number of references, believe me!

Freaks’ Squeele is a seven books series, even if the last one has yet to be released. Next to that main story, you will also find two spin-offs currently in the making (one by another author, Sourya Sihachakr), and two little stories in the first and third Doggybags albums.

In short, if the style is appealing to you and you like stories which can be serious with a great deal of humor, don’t hesitate to run right now to your favorite library/book store : you won’t be disappointed.

 

freaks_04

Lucie PELLETIER

mar
27

The Book With No Name

the_book_with_no_name
 

The Book With No Name

Ever heard of « The Book With No Name » ? You should. It’s the first novel of the Bourbon Kid series, written by an anonymous British author, who signs as Anon. It’s a thriller/horror sort of book, but more like « lots of blood everywhere » than scary stuff. It’s quite funny, in fact.
The book is about a serial killer known as the Bourbon Kid, who can be considered as an antihero of some sort. The story takes place in a city in a western-like scenery, which is flooded by supernatural creatures (and, unfortunately for them, simple humans). We follow a police officer trying to understand the gruesome deaths that have been happening around lately. Then switching to the point of view of other characters who are more or less aware of what’s happening and the consequences of their own actions. Each character is very interesting, and very different one from another, even if in the end you’d better not get attached to one of them, because death comes around swiftly !
To speak about the book itself, it is very easy to read, because it is more like oral rather than written language with complicated sentences. In fact, that’s the peculiar style of the series. Also, keep in mind that swear words are used quite often (let’s say they are a very big part of the book), and that fighting and dying scenes are very well described (picture a Tarantino movie put on paper, and you’re quite close to it). The humor and the crude reality of the events are basically what makes this book a must-read, and you won’t have time to tire of it !
Up till now, it’s one of a series of four books : The Book With No Name, The Eye of the Moon, The Devil’s Graveyard and The Book of Death.

I personally liked all of them, but the last one was a bit repetitive (or maybe one of the main character in it annoyed me a bit more than those in the others).
Fans are very interested in seeing this book adapted as a movie (and what a show it would be !), but for now, there’s no information whether it is to be done or not. Even so, the Sojafilms website did a fan-made trailer for The Book With No Name and it’s really nice to watch, so if you have time, check it out ! It doesn’t spoil anything, thus it’s even an interesting way to understand the whole ambiance of the book if you want to be sure you will like it before reading it.

eye_of_the_moondevil_graveyard
Lucie PELLETIER

Recent comments

  • DigZon technology

    18 août 2015 |

    Keep up the great work ethic.

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    10 août 2015 |

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  • Mathieu

    22 mai 2015 |

    Very interesting article. Could be usefull to me in 2nd year, that is if LePivain makes us study this one.

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    15 mai 2015 |

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  • admin

    10 avril 2015 |

    Beautifully written