I was predisposed to liking this, of course, being a big Girl Genius fan from a number of years back. I don’t know whether I like the graphic novel or the written novel more; they’re obviously quite different media. I’m still not very good at reading graphic novels, despite a bit of practise – I’m not great at reading pictures.
Anyway, I already knew the story going in although there were a few twists that I had forgotten, which was nice. It’s still an amusing story with Agatha finding her feet as a Spark and as the Heterodyne; I like the relationships with Zeetha and Gil and Tarvek. Something this series has always done well is the secondary and supporting characters – frequently over the top but always enjoyable. I adore the Castle and its quirks – it’s a really nice way of illuminating the Heterodynes as a family, and of course adding some amusing danger along the way.
One curious and disappointing thing is the cover of this book. It looks like a page from one of the graphic novels, with one big difference. In the graphic novels, Agatha is buxom and curvaceous. But not on that cover. She’s verging on slender, which is really not Agatha. Bit disappointing really.
In which Tansy, Alisa & Alex take on Feminism 101 with a recs list of teen-friendly resources. Get us at iTunes or Galactic Suburbia.
Long-time listener and frequent commenter Scott emailed us to say : “My 16 year old daughter has been have issues with boys belittling her views at school class and not being supported by close minded teachers. One of the boys asked if she was a feminist. She said she looked it up on the internet and wasn’t sure it was very positive. I’ve told her it can be a positive term depending on how it’s used. Could you point me to a book or two that I could give her that could help break down feminism and put it in a positive light?”
And so, Lily, here are our thoughts…
Anita Sarkeesian: How to Be A Feminist http://feministfrequency.com/2015/03/24/how-to-be-a-feminist-panel-at-all-about-women/
Mindy Nettifee – For Young Women Who Don’t Consider Themselves Feminists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-aD9WrfWTM
Laci Green: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwJRFClybmk (also recced by Renay on Twitter)
Kitty Flanagan – woman against women against feminism
Stuff your Mom Never Told You: How To Talk To Friends About Feminism
Emma Watson’s UN speech – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkjW9PZBRfk
We should all be feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc&feature=youtu.be c/Tehani
The F-Bomb http://thefbomb.org/
Jessica Valenti: Full Frontal Feminism (2008), He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know (2009)
Amy Poehler – smart girls in the room https://www.youtube.com/user/smartgirls
Vid with a 7 year old explaining feminism & generally celebrating issues to do with being female. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJqTAVJB_x8
Herself – http://herself.com/about/ [NSFW]
Mary Sue’s film recs for growing feminists: http://www.themarysue.com/six-films-growing-feminist/
Girls Against Girls by @bonniegrrl c/ Booksandsundry via Twitter
@_TYFA: Twitter Youth Feminist Army c/ Cheryl Morgan
AmeliaBloomer.com Recommended feminist lit for Birth to 18yrs c/ Melina D via Twitter
teenfeminist.com c/ Melina D via Twitter
@SamMaggs’ FANGIRLS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY is beyond brilliant. c/ Deb Stanish
Awesome though Ruffalo is, he was just quoting someone in that rant. Here’s the original:
Also my awesome pals in Bristol who are doing great things on the menstrual health front.
Rookie Magazine – aimed at teenaged girls – kinda seems like the teen girl version of a weekend magazine.
Alisa: Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, Ann and Jeff Vandermeer; The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu;
Tansy: Mad Max: Fury Road, Captain Marvel 2: Stay Fly, Kelly Sue Deconnick; Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear
Alex: Mad Max: Fury Road (NB Feminist Mad Max); Guns of the Dawn, Adrian Tchaikovsky; Girl Genius vol 1-13; Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson
Letters to Tiptree submissions by June 8: http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/submissions
Bring a mug to our live recording! Or drink tea while listening to our next episode, and tell us about it.
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*Some spoilers for the first Agatha Heterodyne novel/some of the graphic novels*
Yes I am a fangirl. Let’s move on, and firstly talk about the look of this lovely book. I don’t mind the cover – I think it’s appropriate and quite pretty – but when I was reading I took the dust jacket off and oh my, I don’t think I can put it back on again. The hardcover itself is beautiful, with gorgeous gold embossing and little swirls and… it’s just wonderful.
So, the story. This covers, I think, volumes 4-6 of the graphic novels (I may be wrong). Agatha has escaped from Castle Wolfenbach and quite literally falls to earth in company with Krosp, the talking cat. She gets taken in by a travelling circus, after a few adventures, and things proceed from there: more adventures, some science, a little bit of romance, and some interesting characters too. Things are, of course, not entirely what they seem in the circus; and even if that were the not the case, odd things are afoot within Europa so Agatha and her friends are confronted with monsters and other unpleasant people as they travel around. And then there’s the castle with the slightly crazy people…
You probably wouldn’t enjoy this novel without having read the first one. If you’ve read the graphic novels, then you know exactly what happens here already. For me, I read the graphic version long enough ago that I’d forgotten many details, so it was still highly enjoyable. Additionally, I think the Foglios are adding more detail in, especially in terms of back story for some of the more minor characters – and for Europa, and the places visited, as well. I am still a word-reader at heart, and much as I love the graphic novels I don’t think I yet have my eye ‘in’ – I’m sure there are details I miss in pictures that I easily grasp in words. So, it works. Actually I think the main indication that this novelisation works is the fact that it makes me keen to go back and read with the pictures, because I do love them.
Another reason I enjoyed this novel is that the Jagermonsters feature. A lot. Which makes me happy. Also, it so passes the Bechdel test. There are women who are warriors, and schemers, and costumers, and mechanics, and while men feature in their discussions they’re not the sole focus. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.
In which we celebrate our 60th episode and Peter MacNamara Award for Excellence win with cake, yarn and superheroes. For best results, consume this podcast with fabulous cake and/or sock yarn. You can get us from iTunes or Galactic Suburbia.
Marvel Comics follows Archie’s lead with a gay marriage between Northstar and Kyle: the news was launched by Whoopi Goldberg on The View.
Chicks Unravel Time announced from Mad Norwegian Press and Tansy is in it
What Culture Have we Consumed?
Alex: The Monster, Garth Nix and Sean Williams (Troubletwisters #2); Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess, Phil and Kaia Foglio; Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter; Wonder Woman: Rise of the Olympian
Tansy: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire, Made in Dagenham
Alisa: Black Heart by Holly Black; The Avengers movie
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I don’t. I never have, really. Someone gave me a graphic novel of the first Batman movie many, many moons ago and I loved it, but I never sought out anything else like it. At that stage I regarded comics as all Biff! and Pow! and having none of the sophistication I saw in that novel. No idea whether I was right then; I do know I wouldn’t be right in thinking it today.
I read one serialised graphic novel/comic strip: Girl Genius. For those late to the party, I discovered Girl Genius with issue 9 in the Hugo Packet in 2010. I read most of issue 9… then went back to the very start, online, and read the entire saga. (One issue = one year of pages appearing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.) I now own all of them in hard copy, and the novels as they appear… which is rather indicative of the idea that I do like comics. I have also enjoyed Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, which Tehani pointed me towards. I’d read more of that series, but the one hard copy available is going to cost me more in postage than the book itself, so… yeh. Not so much. (And I read Questionable Content, too, now that I think about it… hmmm, this is rather indicative, isn’t it?)
My last request post, for women who rock, was quite the success – and I’ll be posting an update on that soon, once I’ve auditioned a few more bands/singers. So I’ll do it again. I know Tansy is probably already in the comments section telling me which DC comics to hurry up and catch up on, but I’d love a wide variety of suggestions! I’m happy to read online, obviously; in fact I’d probably prefer it, or at least electronic copies, until I decide whether I love something or not. I’d prefer a lack of graphic/gratuitous violence and sex, and if you’re going to preface your suggestion with “You may get annoyed with the portrayal of women but…” then please rethink your comment 🙂
In which we flit over the first shortlist of the year and some charitable links, sweep though a fortnight of culture consumed, and then leap with both feet into the pet subject of Inside Indie Press. You can download or stream us from Galactic Suburbia, or get us from iTunes.
BSFA Awards Shortlists
What Culture Have we Consumed?
Tansy: no books for me, shockingly! More Big Finish audio plays.
Alex: Agatha H and the Airship City, Phil and Kaja Foglio; Transformation Space, Marianne de Pierres; Dust, Elizabeth Bear; two stories from James Tiptree’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (spoilery discussion); The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss. Also begun a rewatch of BSG…
Alisa: No Ordinary Family; Dexter season 5
(diversion on the subject of Whether Alisa Should Watch Doctor Who)
Pet Subject: Inside Indie Press
Big news in TPP space is the closure of Speakeasy.
Is there an obvious point at which a project becomes a non-viable project?
How do you know that you’re ditching a project just because the stories don’t fit your particular idea/viewpoint?
The older books are harder to use as examples because lots of things about them were learning.
Horn – first to break even BUT I got caught on the selling to bookstores so i ended up having to sell 80% of the print run after review and buzz copies (1/4 of the print run) to break even.
Pay scales, writing contracts, competing with the US indies…
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Hoo boy. I have been looking forward to this ever since I got to interview the Foglios for Galactic Suburbia way back at Aussiecon4, when they announced they’d been given a deal with Night Shade Books for the novels.
Actually, in some ways I have been looking forward to this for even longer: I first read about Agatha Clay in Girl Genius vol 9, the Hugo-nominated (and winning!) graphic novel. I had never heard of it before I got it in the Hugo packet, and… well… it was love. Pure, sweet, love. I read the entirety of vol 9; bought the ebook of vol 1; then discovered that you could just read the whole lot online, one page at a time. So I did that. One volume is one year’s worth of comics, and pages come out regular as clockwork every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so… yeh. You figure out how much reading that was.
Yes, I know. I lot. But I love it. It’s got Romance! Adventure! Mad Science!! And this is the sans-illustration novelisation of, I think, the first three volumes of the graphic version. So yes yes, I’ve read the story before. But this is a different version. It’s like… the novelisation of a movie. Only better.
Officially, the Foglios – wife&husband team Kaja and Phil – call this ‘Gaslamp Fantasy’. Which is different from steampunk, and I can sort of see how but I can’t always explain. I think, basically, that with steampunk things are meant to make sense, in the same way that good SF makes sense in a scientific way (sorta). Fantasy, though – fantasy gets to cheat outrageously, when it wants to, by wiggling its fingers and saying ta-DA! And as long as it does it in an entertaining enough way, it’s fine. I know, I know – I’m exaggerating ridiculously here, and the genre purists will pull me up for it. Whatever. This is gaslamp fantasy because it’s kinda the European nineteenth century, but at the same time it’s really not, and there are serious mad scientists running around, mostly with The Spark. A Spark is like someone with The Knack: whatever they want to make, whatever they fix, it Just. Works. Although most Sparks end up going nuts or being crushed by their creations.
There are numerous things I love about this series. Firstly, the characters. The main character is Agatha: a sometimes-bumbling, sometimes-competent wannabe mechanic. In the graphic novel, especially, she’s wonderful because she’s this voluptuous woman unaware of her own looks and perfectly capable of looking after herself, thanks very much. The rest of the cast, as appearing in the novel, are also great: both men and women, good and bad and somewhere in between, and – something that only occurred to me in reading it rather than looking at the pictures, which is a bit crazy – a wide ethnic mix, too. Black people, Jewish people, white people, Chinese people, the marvellous Bangladesh DuPree… not to mention all the slightly non-human types, too. And a talking cat. We love talking cats. Most of all, we love the Jagerkin. The Jagerkin inspired my title, because that’s how they talk: with the most outrageous faux-German accents you could possibly imagine (having heard Phil do his impersonation, I understand the inspiration now). They are crazy, they are mischievous, they love their hats, and they sometimes look like this:
They also have a propensity for lusting after entirely inappropriate women.
I love the plot, too. Sure you could roll your eyes at yet another story about a poor orphan girl who discovers something amazing about herself, but you know what? Who cares! It’s fun! Agatha makes it worthwhile! There’s a reason those stories get written so often. And here, along with the self-discovery stuff, there’s some serious mad science, a one-km-long dirigible, lots of explosions, and a touch of romance.
I bought the hardcover version, because the trade paperback isn’t out until August and that’s waaaay too long to wait (and it’s not very expensive anyway). It’s a lovely little production, with nice paper and cool cover art. My one gripe, and I’m a bit sad about it, is that there are some editing issues. There are a few spelling mistakes (‘access’ for ‘assess’), and someone really doesn’t like semi-colons – which would be fine if they used periods in their place, but mostly they used commas, and that just really, really, grated.
Is it original? Not if you’ve read the comic, no. I have no idea what it would be like to read this cold; I imagine there are some bits that might be a little confusing, but I can’t be sure. But did I enjoy it? Hell yes. And I will certainly be buying the second one (Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess) and third (title still TBA), because I am that much of a fangirl. Wheee!
Um, yes. We kinda went overboard on Galactic Suburbia when we were together for Aussiecon4. Well, wouldn’t you? The opportunity to actually SEE each other while recording?!
Anyway, you can now download our wrap-up of the Ditmars, which was a lot of fun to record and also includes a bonus at the end of me interviewing the awesome creators of Girl Genius – who two days later won the Hugo for Best Graphic Novel! Hurrah! Anyway, the quality is average because we recorded in the dealers’ room, and I giggle waaay too much… but it was SO COOL.
Just a quick update before I head back in for an exciting second day at Aussiecon4.
My absolute highlights were two very exciting fangirl moments: firstly, I met Helen Merrick, author of the brilliant Secret Feminist Cabal which I really must get around to reviewing. The other came when a little girl introduced herself to a friend’s daughter, and that girl’s parents came along to check everything was ok. Those parents were Phil and Kaja Foglio, creators of Girl Genius! Whom I had emailed about interviewing and was nervous as all get out about introducing myself to! So that was great, and relaxed, and I’m really looking forward to interviewing them now.
I also had a couple of people mention that they knew me from Galactic Suburbia, which was… overwhelming…
Speaking of which, must be off – we’re recording a live episode this morning!