Agatha H. and the Airship City: Adventure! Romance! MAD SCIENCE!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsPhil & Kaja Foglio Girl Genius 1. Agatha H. and the Airship CityAgatha H. and the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio

Agatha H. and the Airship City is a novelization of the first three volumes of the Girl Genius comic created by Phil and Kaja Foglio. This beautiful comic strip, which won the 2009 and 2010 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, is ongoing and can be read from the beginning at Girl Genius Online. In fact, if you read or listen to the novelization, I’d suggest that you occasionally view the comic along with it so you can see the story’s strange characters and constructs (and, also, just because it’s gorgeous and deserves to be seen). At the bottom of each page is an archive with titles of the chapters, so it’s easy to find the pages you need while reading. The novelization follows the strip almost exactly, but there are some minor differences.

I love the GIRL GENIUS comic (reviewed above) which has been published as a series of graphic novels available in hardback and paperback. So, why turn Girl Genius into novels? … I don’t know… I suppose that those who don’t read comics might read the Girl Genius story in novel form. Also novelization allows it to be put on audio, which is how I read Agatha H. and the Airship City. The audiobook is narrated by Angela Dawe, who is simply amazing — she’s enthusiastic and vibrant and has a wide range of voices and accents. She’s a lot of fun to listen to and a perfect choice for this zany story.

Readers who pick up Agatha H. and the Airship City while ignoring the comic will be missing out. The novelization is successful, but because it essentially recreates the story frame-by-frame, the scene and viewpoint transitions don’t always come across smoothly, and much of the humor that comes from the art is missing (though some of it is maintained through careful description). But, most importantly, so much of the charm of the comic comes from the stunning art! Thus, Agatha H. and the Airship City works as a novel, but it’s much better in graphic form. If you don’t have time to read years’ worth of the Girl Genius comic, then the audiobook is the next best thing. Just be sure to supplement your listening by occasionally following along with the artwork online. You can’t fully appreciate GIRL GENIUS otherwise.


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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