06/19/13 Essentially Dead


That strip a few weeks back, the one with four wide panels? I’d forgotten to finish coloring it, but I just did. Colored/updated!

Been reading more YA (young adult) novels lately. I’ve been trying to figure out why they appeal so much to me. Is it that they are more innocent? That they focus more on character and human emotion than plot? Is it that the characters still have a natural curiosity that gets beaten out of most adults? Not sure.

Last year my favorite book i read was “I Capture the Castle.” It was YA. I just finished reading “The Last Siege” which was quite good, but I feel a little muddled about the ending. And “The Sugar Queen” which had some really interesting magical realism literary devices and was overall fun.

But I have this stack of psychology audiobooks I should plow through for writing research. “Thinking Fast and Slow” and “The Power of Habit” and “The Neurological Origins of Individuality.” But I just can’t get up the muster. Maybe I’ll relisten to the Abhorsen trilogy” a good story, so enjoyably read by Tim Curry.


  1. Grego

    Yes, Garth Nix FTW. *Read* them, though; they’re candy for the eyes, no need to wait up for the ears to listen.

    Here’s a list of other YA you shouldn’t miss. I’ve always thought YA was mislabeled, really, since it’s for people of all ages, as soon as one can understand some of the themes. Rereading later, in the light of life experience, then reveals further context.

    Anyway, cultural references throughout your body of work nearly assure me that you’ve read most of these, but here’s my shortlist, SF first: “Rite of Passage” – Panshin; “Dolphin Island” and “Childhood’s End” – Clarke; “Nightfall” and all the Lucky Starr series – Asimov; “Startide Rising” et al. – Brin; “Flowers for Algernon” – Keyes; “The Chronicles of Prydain” – Alexander; “The Dark is Rising” – Cooper; “Watership Down” – Adams; “Tamsin” – Beagle; “The Hobbit”; “Island of the Blue Dolphins” – O’Dell; “My Side of the Mountain” and “Julie of the Wolves” – George; “Bridge to Terabithia” – Patterson; and everything by Roald Dahl, of course.

    Are there any big additions I should make?

  2. LongshotLink

    The Abhorsen trilogy is read by Tim Curry? Why the hell didn’t I know this before? I frikking love that trilogy! Still need to find the second two books in print though too. Can I get the audio off Amazon or Barnes and Noble?

  3. ronald

    We didn’t even know there was a Medibot on the ship before, did we?

    (checks Medibot tag)


    The life of a bot, to be totally ignored until you’re needed. A literal Deus ex Machina.

  4. ronald

    @asdf: Maybe it came with the boots. 😉


    Dusty’s sequence reminds me of the short-short story “The Third Wish” by Rick Norwood. A genie tells a guy who doesn’t remember making any wishes at all that he’s prepared to grant the guy’s THIRD wish. The guy’s second wish was to totally erase the results of his first wish (which thus must have turned out not at all well), with the result that he himself remembers neither.

    One wish is better than none, though, so the guy wishes to be irresistible to women.

    “Funny,” the genie comments as he vanishes, “that was your first wish, too.”

  5. Christopher

    @Grego, “*Read* them, though; they’re candy for the eyes.” If I had more time and wasn’t an INCREDIBLY slow reader, i would. But neither is true. But I draw sometimes 10 hours a day, so I listen to a lot of audiobooks.

    And I’ve read “Childhood’s End,” “The Chronicles of Prydain,” “The Dark is Rising,” “Watership Down,” “The Hobbit,” “Julie of the Wolves,” “Bridge to Terabithia,” and everything by Roald Dahl. But that gives me a good list of what to read next! 🙂

    @LongshotLink, I got it from the library, but I don’t think it’s too obscure, you should be able to find it.

    @Nathan Myers, yes! I’ve listened to the entire discworld series. The Terry Aching are my favorite of them. And my favorite character is the luggage. 🙂

    @Ronald, I haven’t spelled it out, but the medi-bots just simply are there when needed. I’ve been trying to show that they’re essentially the first-aid kits of the future, every dwelling has one but you rarely bother to bring it out. And, funny story. 🙂

    @Nboady, yup! I think that’s it. And it’s on my desk to be inked… along with twenty other things. 😉

  6. Jayess

    I know what that list is missing! It’s missing “Kim”, and “the Jungle Books”, by Rudyard Kipling. And almost anything by Dianna Wynne Jones, although “Hexwood” is particularly good. But that list had some of my all-time favourites on it. Especially “Chronicles of Prydain.”
    I know what you mean about YA novels, though. I think there’s something of the short story to them: they tend to be shorter than adult novels, but the good ones are still building plot and character to the fullest of their potential. They fit a lot of beauty, art and truth in not a lot of pages!

  7. M.A.

    “Doggy killer” — omygosh, that was hysterical! I love Emily a lot. Glad she’s not too dead. Also, given the choice between listening to “The Neurological Origins of Individuality” and Garth Nix read by Tim Curry? Not a hard decision, I think. And that’s Tiffany Aching, not Terry.

  8. Phil Palmer

    Good YA novels: Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy, or A Monster Calls. Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet.
    Ada: I liked Fire and Hemlock best too.
    Sal: My favourite Tanith Lee is still Volkhavaar. Especially the ending.

  9. Muzhik

    Wow. A webcomic where characters develop. Moral ambiguity. And Ladyfingers. A month or so ago we were arguing over comparing Yuri’s descent into madness vs. Emily’s descent into a never-ending guilt trip; now we’ll get to argue over Pierrot’s descent from cat-loving animal-rights defender to remorseless doggie-killer. What’s next? Opening a McDonald’s franchise?

    (I know, I know… given the amount of real animal protein in the consumables at McDonald’s, Pierrot would probably be safe. Still, I’d love to see Emily’s face at the thought.)

  10. TB

    Hey, Christopher, you do Kindle? I wrote a YA novel you might like, and I’ll pop you a Kindle freebie if you pop me an e-mail address. If you’re curious about the book, follow up my website link.

  11. nomuse

    Three oldies to recommend. Joan Aiken; Black Hearts in Battersea, Wolves of Willoughby Chase… very odd Dickensian Steampunk pastiche, and written in the 60’s — well before everyone was doing it. John Christopher’s “Tripods” trilogy, which are surprisingly dark for their pastoral setting. And for a similarly freaky pastoral, Peter Dickenson’s “Changes” trilogy. All of them have strongly realized, believable settings and strong, interesting young protagonists.

  12. Geo

    Forgot to mention The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. It’s not YA but it might as well be because it is definitely PG13 and the main character is a young girl. Good writing, interesting story, cool world building, and also THE most unique fight scene I have ever read. (and I read A LOT!)

  13. Draxblood

    Maybe it’s bad form to point out nit picky things like: the adrenaline boost will only restart the heart if it is injected directly to the heart. If the heart isn’t beating, there is no blood flowing, and injecting into the neck won’t do anything.

    Though I do like the storyline.

  14. ronald

    >>>@Ronald, I haven’t spelled it out, but the medi-bots just simply are there when needed. I’ve been trying to show that they’re essentially the first-aid kits of the future, every dwelling has one but you rarely bother to bring it out

    Well, prior to this strip, we apparently haven’t seen one in about a year and a half (judging by the tag), so I’d have to say that sub-sub-sub-theme sort of got lost in the shuffle. 😉

  15. Night-Gaunt

    The rule of thumb is the more advanced you are the more like a “god” you can do. Like reviving the dead etc.

    You should know to wish for wisdom in all things first.

  16. Ada

    Geo: I read the Harper Hall trilogy before the first Dragon Riders books, which I think worked well for me at the age I was at the time.

    Anyone who wants free audio books can find a lot of them at http://librivox.org/ where volunteers record books that are in the public domain. Essentially this means books from 1923 and earlier. When my son was younger he went through all of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, and the first book by the next author (Ruth Plumly Thomson?) this way. There is also at least one Dr. Doolittle. I haven’t explored the YA possibilities there.

  17. TB

    When Pierrot gets his head together, he’ll realize nobody’s going to kill a Ditherker by sticking it with a knife. What he did do is make it let go so it would fall back to the ground.

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