Girl Genius: Agatha H. and the Airship City” by Phil and Kaja Foglio

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Nothing that has anything to do with hypnosis (although the storyline does involve a particularly nasty form of mind control) but just a good read by some people I happen to know and recommend. Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio. Their artistic credentials are impeccable and their artwork has appeared in such diverse places as “Dragon Magazine” and on “Magic: the Gathering” cards, adaptations of Robert Asprin’s “Mythadventure” books, some very NSFW and very well done erotica, and even souvenir convention plates: Phil is one of the few people I know who have won the Hugo Award both as a fan and a professional artist and Kaja is equally as good.

Girl Genius” is their love and joy. If you haven’t been reading “Girl Genius” online, you should. As one reviewer put it: its what Jules Verne would write if he wrote comics, and he’d be jealous. Its the story of Agatha Heterodyne, heir to the famous Heterodyne Boys Bill and Barry, who championed Good and Right against the mad scientist “Sparks” of the day, until the day they lost everything in a vicious attack and lost themselves trying to determine the cause. Its Steampunk™ at its finest, and “Girl Genius” is one of the reasons for the popularity of the genre.

Agatha knew nothing of this. She was protected (in more ways than one) from the harsh life that a Spark encounters, until that life came looking for her. Through her adventures she has matured from the helpless, bumbling girl assistant to someone who could become the Heterodyne Heir of legend. All she has to do is survive possession (by the mind of her mother), the ire of Baron Wulfenbach (the past ally of the Heterodyne Boys and ex-offiio ruler of Europa), a cabal determined to seize power by promoting a fake Heterodyne Heir, and the romantic entanglements of two strong Sparks, one the son of the Baron and the other the prophesied ruler of Europa. Quite a challenge but Agatha is up to it. (And if you think Agatha looks remarkably like Kaja, join the club.)

But what is special is that they are moving away from comics directly to written fiction with the first Agatha Heterodyne novel, “Agatha H. and the Airship City”. It will be published in a couple of weeks, and Phil is asking people to hold off ordering it until January 12th as that not only will cause a spike in the sales count, but its also Kaja’s birthday. I know I will.

You can get the collected volumes, too: they’re well worth the effort.

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