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Read Best Agatha H. and the Airship City Author Phil Foglio –

Honestly, I haven t had this much fun in months Novelizations of the webcomic, and adorable, absurd, alarming hilarity from start to finish It s gaslamp fantasy about historical not Europe Not about science but instead about mad science, which is a completely different thing A classic cliche story about a young orphans adventures on the run from the powers chasing her, with all the expected familial entanglements, and also about being dangerously gifted Except told so freshly and charmingly, it all feels new again Sight unseen, I would bet the novels follow the comic frame by frame, which I know sounds horrible, but really isn t There s definitely a visual sensibility here, and a particular timing optimized for moments of frozen physical humor, but they really make it work in another medium.The two prose novels barely cover the first third of the published comic so far I await the next book with a lot of stomping and sulking no spoilers, please. I picked up Agatha H and the Airship City, and tucked myself into a chair to enjoy the afternoon Agatha H is based off of a Hugo winning webcomic Girl Genius, and though I haven t read the comic, I thoroughly enjoyed this version of the first three volumes and am thinking of checking out the comic as a result.I felt a little awkward at the start of the story because even with the prologue, it felt like I was jumping into the middle and that there was history I probably should have known But, that faded fairly quickly as I followed Agatha on her day.As the day went on, I learned about her world at the Transylvania Polygnostic University and about how the Sparks read mad scientists ruled Europa The J germonsters brought humor to the story and gave the feeling that they knew than they were telling, even the ones that seemed a lot less smart than others.One of my favorite parts of the book was at one point where Agatha had run across a prisoner once on the airship and she said to him I d rather not end up being the Easily Duped Minion Who Sets the Insanely Dangerous Experiment free or the Hostage Who Ensures the Smooth Talking Villain s Escape.All in all, I rate this a 4 5 for enjoyment and I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for some light hearted steampunk reading. Adventure Romance Mad Science The Industrial Revolution Has Escalated Into All Out Warfare It Has Been Eighteen Years Since The Heterodyne Boys, Benevolent Adventurers And Inventors, Disappeared Under Mysterious Circumstances Today, Europe Is Ruled By The Sparks, Dynasties Of Mad Scientists Ruling Over And Terrorizing The Hapless Population With Their Bizarre Inventions And Unchecked Power, While The Downtrodden Dream Of The Hetrodynes ReturnAt Transylvania Polygnostic University, A Pretty, Young Student Named Agatha Clay Seems To Have Nothing But Bad Luck Incapable Of Building Anything That Actually Works, But Dedicated To Her Studies, Agatha Seems Destined For A Lackluster Career As A Minor Lab Assistant But When The University Is Overthrown By The Ruthless Tyrant Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Agatha Finds Herself A Prisoner Aboard His Massive Airship Castle Wulfenbach And It Begins To Look Like She Might Carry A Spark Of Mad Science After AllFrom Phil And Kaja Foglio, Creators Of The Hugo, Eagle, And Eisner Award Nominated Webcomic Girl Genius, Comes Agatha H And The Airship City, A Gaslamp Fantasy Filled To Bursting With Adventure Romance And Mad Science I am a Girl Genius fan I ve been reading the comic since it started up, have most of the volumes in hardcover, and think it is da bomb.Which is, in part, why I am disappointed in the novelization.Robbed of Phil s imaginative and baroquely detailed artwork, too much of the tale of Agatha Clay becomes well, rather unpleasant, rather than zany and humorous Sure, the Jaegermonsters are always a hoot, and Othar and Krosp can t help but be amusing But half the fun of GG are the myriad details that Phil sneaks into the background Book case in the panel Gotta read all the titles Crazy steampunky contraption in someone s hand It will, of course, have a humorous label on its side, or a droll warning sign on the wall.The book drops pretty much all of this We don t even get the name of the University, let alone its motto In exchange, to be sure, we get some nice background exposition For example, a prolog tells us a lot about the Hive Engines and Slaver Wasps, not to mention some of the things going on before the Heterodyne Twins vanished And a number of the characters get some otherwise missing backgrounds the murderous pirate Bangladesh Dupree comes to mind And, of course, with experience the Foglios have massaged the story a bit, setting up some later conflicts clearly, altering some details here and there It s 98% the same, but after reading the book I went through the three graphic novels it s made up of Agatha H and the Beetleburg Clank,and the Airship City, andand the Monster Engine and the differences are there, storyline wise, and largely improvements.Still, without the art not even on the cover , or even an attempt to describe it, the tale loses the particular humorous pizazz it has Which is a darned shame I realize it wouldn t be easy telling rather than showing is rarely as good a way to convey humor But without it, it s a rather grim especially toward the beginning tale of tragedy and loss and monsters Which is not what I think of Girl Genius though, with this book as consideration, that s sort of what it is.Don t get me wrong I liked it I enjoyed reading it I ll be loaning it to my wife, an even hepped GG fan than I And I ll be rooting for a sequel.But if someone asked me for a Girl Genius tale, I d hand them the first graphic novel It s just that much better. Agatha H and the Airship City is a delightful book of tongue in cheek heroism set in a Steampunk alternate reality version of Europe Mad scientists with bizarre names, a wealth of robotic constructions and the very funny Jagermonsters populate the pages I kept bursting into giggles as I devoured this wonderful book, which I assume is the first in what should be a very popular series Agatha is intelligent, likeable, creative and stands up for herself, but is also rather volitile The other characters, particularly all the wonderful Jagermonsters Gil, the brilliant young spark his father, the Baron Bangladesh, the murderous ex air pirate and the little automaton, Zoing, were all believable and as delightful as their names In the context of a culture addicted to heroic stories, even Othar, a renegade spark, was believable in his pseudo heroic story language and seemingly inability to die Klaus is the arch bad guy, not all bad but as delightfully mad as all the others You could say that he and Othar are stereotypes, but in this larger than life cartoon style they are meant to be They are a satire of themselves I liked the way that the relationship between Agatha and Gil developed from his respect for her intellect rather than from an attraction to her physical charms Their connection is one of like minds meeting and the recognition of a shared passion This is a refreshing change to the physically based instant attraction so often seen in young adult novels these days.The story, whilst fitting squarely in the one installment of the epic hero style was imaginative, unpredictable and had me devouring the pages The ending was perfectly satisfying with plenty of strands to follow up in sequels, and it left us pondering which one is evil, Gil or Otho To find out, we will have to have a sequel or two I give this 5 stars and recommend it for all lovers of Steampunk, mad characters, fascinating inventions and humour If you like comics, you ll like this Although it was listed on netgalley as Adult, it s a wonderful book for young adults too. First things first for the uninitiated, this is the novel version of Girl Genius, a 14 year old webcomic with 3 Hugo wins under its belt It s a wacky steampunk story with a visual trend towards pinup anatomy, which makes it hard to get into for some, but the story develops interestingly and is well worth the effort If you pick up the books and find yourself wanting to know what happens next the comic is free Go read it Review wise I ve read the comic, but the last time I was caught up was let me check 2012, actually I have a tendency to binge read and then ignore webcomics for a while so it goes Anyhow, for obvious reasons, I ve retained a lot of the major components of the story IE, Agatha s parentage , but few of the details This was a surprisingly effective refresher course, and an enjoyable, if quick, read.The part I like best about this whole series is still the concept of the Spark, the quality of advanced intelligence and occasionally lowered decision making capabilities with which some people in this world are blessed cursed The effect it has on the structure of Europan society fracturing political systems and fostering smaller states ruled by individual Sparks and on the environment in which ordinary people live tiny mammoths in the sewer must be Tuesday is the right balance of off the wall and fairly logical Plus, the Spark is just a damn fun idea It s a superpower which is as much a danger to its wielder as anyone else, and there are a number of ethical considerations which go along with its existence that the story does raise.Other excellent things the Jagers Love the accent, love the attitudes, love their hat obsession They ve always been my faves in the comics and that doesn t change in print.Now the most important thing about this book is probably how it compares to the original webcomic format The bad news is that there are some structural grammatical problems, especially sentence fragments and scenes whose pacing worked for a visual format, but is too slow in prose Also, I found the book to be a much speedier read, which meant I was aware of how rapidly the romantic subplot developed and consequently annoyed with its existence.The good news is that there s a lot character and worldbuilding background information available in the book Obviously, a visual medium doesn t fare well with long digressions into the protagonist s head, but it s kind of nice to get a better view of Agatha s thoughts and reactions than what can be conveyed via facial expressions.The Kindle edition is no longer free as it was when I picked it up , so if you have to pick between the comic and the book, right now I d say go for the comic However, if webcomics aren t your thing I m sure there are some reasons why, though I can t think of any , this book does a great job of conveying the same story, and as long as you can accept the weirdness for what it is, you ll probably enjoy it. I really liked this book and the sequel, Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess review to follow Since it was originally a comic, there s a strong sense of imagery to the novel It s very easy to picture Agatha and her world in your mind Phil and Kaja Foglio call it a gaslamp fantasy, instead of steampunk, since biology is a technology as well as mechanics Agatha is a strong minded young woman literally discovering who she is Her family has lied to her for her entire life, and her beloved locket, that she thought was a memento of her long lost parents has actually been controlling her mind, giving her terrible migraines and preventing her from being able to think clearly so she could not figure anything out about herself It is only when the locket is stolen and broken that she can finally think freely and come into her own considerable power and talents While it was all for her own good, to hide her from her family s enemies and help smooth her transition into being a full fledged Spark traditionally difficult, especially for all the people that the emerging Spark s inventions kills , she is naturally very conflicted about the whole thing It only gets worse when Gilgamesh Wulfenbach decides that he loves her he may be handsome and rich and brilliant, and even respectful of her talents and work, but he can also be as ruthless and arrogant as his father This is a great, well layered adventure story, full of the mystery of Agatha and the Heterodynes and the Other, the great enemy who vanished so many years ago The tagline for the series is Adventure, Romance, Mad Science and it lives up to all three. For those of you who don t know, this book is a novelisation of the webcomic Girl Genius I was introduced to Girl Genius about a month ago, and I have been hooked ever since I got caught up by the end of the week neglecting some possibly important other work and I have been frustrated at the webcomic format ever since mostly because I can t get the rest of the story fast enough So, when I found out there was a book, I was very excited I wanted of Agatha s story, and here was the chance to get it.Well, no, not so much The book, it turns out, is simply a novelisation of the first three volumes of the Girl Genius Comics they re on volume 9 now It did add some interesting back story in a few places, and I loved the fact that it allowed us to see inside the characters heads a little But it was just the same story in a different format, which was slightly disappointing On the other hand, it was a good story in the first place, so not much can go wrong, once you get past my completely wrong expectations.In the end, I would recommend this book to anyone who has trouble with or is unsure about webcomic format The comic is brilliant, and if you can handle it, start there, and read the book only if you re an extreme geek like me Oh, and can I just put in my vote for a movie of Girl Genius I think we need Steampunk films out there, and Girl Genius would lend itself so well to that format I already have half cast it in my head Film producers, call me Story B Narration ASometimes I like a book because the writing is evocative or a character resonates with me Sometimes the descriptions are so eloquent I can t help but be in awe of the writer s skill Sometimes there s a breakneck current of action that sweeps me past any less than stellar writing rocks Sometimes, I come across a book that is just plain downright fun Agatha H and the Airship City is that kind of audiobook It is chock full of mildly amusing lines that are delivered with than mildly amusing vocal attributes and inflections as part of a very accomplished narration and it all takes place in a fantastic world that invites the listener to sit back and watch events go by.In an alternate history world where some people have the Spark think mad geniuses and can create amazing mechanical constructs, Agatha Clay is a less than accomplished student at Transylvania Polygnostic University The worst day of her life begins when she loses her locket a gift from her long absent uncle in a mugging When Baron Klaus Wulfenbach arrives at the university with his heir Gilgamesh, Agatha s boss ends up dead and she is banned from TPU The Baron takes over the city of Mechanicsburg and Agatha soon finds herself removed from her home, taken from the constructs who have acted as her parents for the past sixteen years, and ensconced at Castle Wulfenbach, the Baron s airship stronghold There she falls in with a group of youth who are being held as hostages to ensure the good behavior of their parents or other family members, all of whom are using their Spark in the employ of the Baron It soon becomes clear that there is to Agatha than meets the eye and the core adventure of the story begins.When I picked up this audiobook several months ago, I was aware that it was based on a comic book webcomic series named Girl Genius but other than that and the book description, that s all I knew about it I mention that because I can t speak to how the book varies from the comic and can only offer the perspective of someone unfamiliar with the whole series The story portion has a lot to recommend it There s a plucky heroine with a nice blend of smarts, some insecurity over her inability to create things, otherwise decent self confidence, and an admirable practicality a large cast of interesting and varied characters whose motivations never boil down to a simple case of good or evil intent plus nifty world building with a nice gaslight fantasy vibe and a good dash of romance The pacing is excellent and although I was initially a bit lost as to how the pieces of the world fit together, everything soon lined up nicely in my head The ending wasn t a cliff hanger but there were a ton of loose plot threads that were left flapping in the wind I can console myself with the fact that I can always turn to the webcomic but I m really hoping for another audiobook.I would have enjoyed this as a dead tree book but as a listen Angela Dawe knocked it out of the park with this one Although this was written as a long form story, I think the vibrancy of the narration took the place of the illustrations that a comic graphic version would have included and added that extra something to the story Differentiation between characters and there were a lot of them was the most varied I have heard in a single narrator audio from Othar Tryggvassen Gentleman Adventurer and his bigger than life egotistical super hero like voice, to the J germonsters with their Germanic accents who always talk like they are delivering bad pick up lines, to Krosp, the cat construct who speaks like, well, like you d imagine a cat would if he could talk smug and with a hint of a meow to many words The voices of the younger kids in the story, often a problematic narration point for me, were excellent There was a cornucopia of accents American, English, East Indian, German, French, Irish and I enjoyed every one The humorous lines had just the right snap to them and the delivery of the narrative was nicely paced.Quite frankly, this book could have been a thousand times longer and I would have been content to listen to the continuing story for the next year. ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.Notes This rating reflects my satisfaction with the novelization of Girl Genius The comic itself is worth 5 stars Artwork used with permission shown in the review at Romance MAD SCIENCE 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.Phil Kaja Foglio Girl Genius 1 Agatha H and the Airship CityGirl Genius is a gaslamp fantasy set in a Victorian style world which produces Sparks admired, but also somewhat mad, geniuses who are able to create bizarre machines and biological constructs some which make life easier for people, and some which can be used as deadly weapons For years, the Sparks have been warring with each other and leaving devastation in their wakes Things are beginning to stabilize, though, as Baron Wulfenbach, a particularly ambitious Spark, continues to annex lands and to control them with his weird minions.The story begins several years after the disappearance of the Heterodyne Boys, a couple of hero Spark brothers who fought evil and protected the regular people from the less benevolent Sparks Without the protection of the Heterodynes, the people try to stay out of the way of the mad scientists, while hoping for the Heterodynes return The heroine of Girl Genius is Agatha Clay, a girl who, though she isn t aware of it at the beginning of the story, is actually Agatha Heterodyne, daughter of one of the Heterodyne Boys, and a very powerful Spark.Agatha makes a charming heroine she s smart and brave, but somewhat clueless and not always capable And, of course, as a Spark, she sometimes teeters on the edge of madness The other characters, and even the machines and biological constructs, are also vivid and likable or extremely unlikable when appropriate The world, with its castles, airships, steam engines, metal monsters, and talking animals, is a lot of fun to explore The plot is fast paced and exciting and, as promised, contains Adventure Romance MAD SCIENCE Girl GeniusAll of this comes across so well in the comic, 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 it otherwise.