The world of Pluto is full of robots, and it has become harder and harder to tell some of them apart from humans. Could the human mind ever recreate itself in an artificial body? Starting with the murder investigation of Mont Blanc, one of the seven greatest robots on Earth, the story weaves its way through many lives and tries to answer the question: What makes something human?
“Urasawa has remixed a legendary Osamu Tezuka story and re-positioned it as a murder mystery. He’s able to create beautiful characters, that sometimes don’t last more than 20 pages in the story, that move us through loss and joy in a spectacular way. His drawing is above reproach. Characters look distinct and are able emote with a clarity that any illustrator would want.” -Drew
Naoki Urasawa is a Japanese manga artist. He has been called one of the artists that changed the history of manga, and has received the Shogakukan Manga Award three times, the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize twice, and the Kodansha Manga Award once.
Unforgettable films, just in time for Remembrance Day. But remember, these are “Weekend Picks” – so get out there and pay your respects on November 11th.
Army of Shadows
This masterpiece by Jean-Pierre Melville about the French Resistance went unreleased in the United States for thirty-seven years, until its triumphant theatrical debut in 2006. Atmospheric and gripping, Army of Shadows is Melville’s most personal film, featuring Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and the incomparable Simone Signoret as intrepid underground fighters who must grapple with their conception of honor in their battle against Hitler’s regime.
The Thin Red Line
After directing two of the most extraordinary movies of the 1970s, Badlands and Days of Heaven, American artist Terrence Malick disappeared from the film world for twenty years, only to resurface in 1998 with this visionary adaptation of James Jones’s 1962 novel about the World War II battle for Guadalcanal. A big-budget, spectacularly mounted epic, The Thin Red Line is also one of the most deeply philosophical films ever released by a major Hollywood studio, a thought-provoking meditation on man, nature, and violence.
Every time I pick up a new Louise Penny novel, I feel like I’ve come home: home to familiar characters; home to Olivier’s bistro with apple and parsnip soup; home to the B&B with luscious, deep eiderdowns on the beds. And now Three Pines is home to someone else, too: Armand Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie. When tragedy strikes and their tranquil peace is disrupted, they discover that “Evil” has also taken up residence in their community.
There follows a tale of misguided loyalties, secrets kept for too long, and people who are not whom they appear to be. In the capacity as an advisor to Jean-Guy and Chief Inspector Isabelle Lacoste, Gamache begins to unwind this tangled tale and wonders, if he had acted sooner, if he could have prevented the events that then followed.
In this novel, Penny shows us how the past can affect every day of one’s present, and she does it admirably.
This month I went for two new science fiction titles.
Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold
Artemis Awakening is the start of a new series by New York Times bestseller Jane Lindskold. The distant world Artemis is a pleasure planet created out of bare rock by a technologically advanced human empire that provided its richest citizens with a veritable Eden to play in. All tech was concealed and the animals (and the humans brought to live there) were bioengineered to help the guests enjoy their stay…but there was always the possibility of danger so that visitors could brag that they had “bested” the environment.
The Empire was shattered in a horrific war; centuries later humanity has lost much of the advanced technology and Artemis is a fable told to children. Until young archeologist Griffin Dane finds intriguing hints that send him on a quest to find the lost world. Stranded on Artemis after crashing his ship, he encounters the Huntress Adara and her psych-linked companion, the puma Sand Shadow. Their journey with her will lead Dane to discover the planet’s secrets…and perhaps provide a key to give unimagined power back to mankind.
The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson
In our rapidly changing world of social media, everyday people are more and more able to sort themselves into social groups based on finer and finer criteria. In the near future of Robert Charles Wilson’s The Affinities, this process is supercharged by new analytic technologies: genetic, brain-mapping, behavioral. To join one of the twenty-two Affinities is to change one’s life. It’s like family, and more than family. Your fellow members aren’t just like you, and they aren’t just people who are likely to like you. They’re also the people with whom you can best cooperate in all areas of life, creative, interpersonal, even financial.
At loose ends both professional and personal, young Adam Fisk takes the suite of tests to see whether he qualifies for any of the Affinities and finds that he’s a match for one of the largest, the one called Tau. It’s utopian–at first. His problems resolve themselves as he becomes part of a global network of people dedicated to helping one another, to helping him, but as the differing Affinities put their new powers to the test, they begin to rapidly chip away at the power of governments, of global corporations, and of all the institutions of the old world; then, with dreadful inevitability, the different Affinities begin to go to war with one another.
If you like supernatural tales that are strange and creepy enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, then these are for you.
White Space by Ilsa J. Bick
Lizzie’s dad is a writer, pulling his characters from the White Space through a mirror into his Now. Sometimes these characters don’t stay in the books… they hide in Lizzie’s house. Emma’s a teenager with a metal plate in her head and migraines that come with the ability to see into Lizzie’s Now. An unsettling story of alternate realities, White Space is the first book in the Dark Passages series.
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
On the outside is Violet, a dancer within reach of her dream life, when something threatens to reveal the truth of her achievement. Inside the walls of Aurora Hills juvenile detention center is Amber, a stranger to freedom for years. Tying their worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking the girls’ dark secrets. Guilt and innocence are seldom black and white.