Adi Mursec has just reviewed An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown on the Super Robot Mayhem website. He starts by saying it’s “a classic sci-fi which will mature with age” adding that “it is like nothing I’ve seen before”. He says that even though the story is about “an android writing to stay alive you really feel for him” and that the reader can relate to Android PD121928 and want his submissions to be accepted. Adi says that each of the Android’s submissions make good stories in their own right covering “some very interesting science fiction concepts”. He also liked the detailed artwork which he felt complements the story really well, describing it as a “neo-noir style” which he says “reminds me a bit of Allan Linder’s Prisoner of the Mind which I really loved”. He says that Mike and Karl “are both masters of their arts and bring this story to life” and he is looking forward to reading more from Mike and seeing more of Karl’s illustrations. He concludes by recommending An Android Awakes to “anyone even slightly interested in sci-fi” and wants to know when it will be made into a movie 😉
Mike and Karl are both masters of their arts and bring this story to life
On SFcrowsnestVinca Russell has just reviewed An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown. Starting by saying “I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels in general” because there often isn’t enough story, it was good to read that An Android Awakes proved to be an exception. Vinca admits “I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book” adding “The story was really engrossing and I found myself rooting for PD121928”. Despite the fact that “the main character is an android, he was extremely easy to relate to”. Vinca enjoyed “the distinct style” of Karl’s artwork too, “particularly his humanoid figures”. In conclusion Vinca recommends An Android Awakes, suggesting it is a “nice crossover for people like me who enjoy the style of graphic novels but want more from the text content to draw them in”, with a great balance between text and illustration having “some amazing imagery in the writing” that is “complemented by some great artwork”.
You can read Vinca’s full review on SFcrowsnest here.
On the Upcoming4.me website, An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown has just been reviewed. As in many other reviews, it starts with the observation that An Android Awakes may remind you of 2000AD. After describing it as a “beautifully designed paperback” the reviewer points out that it “is no ordinary book” but rather “an innovative hybrid that blurs the lines between a novel, or even a short story collection, and a graphic novel” adding that it’s a “quite clever concept which works remarkably well”.
Outlining the storyline and describing the way that Android Writer PD121928 submits stories to be published (only to have them rejected), the reviewer observes that the stories introduce us to “a truly fascinating piece of world building” but also help to provide background to the Android’s life in a way that provides “illuminating reading in itself”. Throughout, the “high quality of both storytelling and illustrations” is maintained. The conclusion of the review is that An Android Awakes is “an excellent science fiction story” that is “well recommended”.
You can read the whole review on Upcoming4.me here.
Outlining the overall storyline and structure of the book, Carl likens Mike French’s approach to Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man. He says some of the stories are “sad, some are epic, some are small and silly. Some are set in a cyberpunk-inflected dystopian future far removed from our own while others could take place tomorrow…” The way that the Android, in each rejected submission reiterates and reinvents concepts, characters and names is “what has to be one of the most unique world-building exercises I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading”. The stories are far from conventional, he says, “with the strangest stories so out there that Vonnegut’s ubiquitous sci-fi author Kilgore Trout would have rejected them for being too weird”. He commends Karl Brown’s artwork that evokes “an early 2000AD and exemplify the book’s eclectic and erratic nature” and only “further add to An Android Awakes eccentricity”. He adds that the small snippets of the Android’s world “were enough to keep me transfixed”.
He concludes by saying that some readers may be baffled, but those who “enjoy it won’t just enjoy it but love it and hold it dear.” He says “I bloody loved it” and recommends that any genre fan who is frustrated at ‘safe’ and conventional books should make time for Mike French’s work, adding “I guarantee you won’t have read anything else quite like it”.
On Murder Mayhem & More, Rowena Hoseason has reviewed An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown. She starts by describing this “substantial softback” as neither a normal text novel nor comic-book style graphic novel but “a blend of both, where Karl Brown’s crisp images are presented alongside Mike French’s sometimes surreal narrative”. With the overall story including the submissions of the Android desperate to be published, she says it can be read as an anthology of short stories or a full-length tale; it is, she says “neither fish nor fowl. Yet it is in places quite brilliant.”
She describes how “Mike French’s imagination runs riot with love, sex and death; science, space and time travel; religion, relationships and the reality of being an independent writer struggling to secure a book contract.”
She says that the underlying story of a writer struggling against rejection could have become old very quickly but happily Mike “doesn’t push the point beyond (my) patience, and instead uses it as a springboard for a series of wickedly humorous and entertaining interludes.”
As well as complimenting Mike’s story, she like Karl’s beautiful artwork, especially that they don’t compete with the text or attempt a mere illustration of the events in each episode. Instead, she says, “the striking line drawings convey the essence of the action and emotion without limiting the reader’s scope to individually interpret the text”. She recommends reading the book in print rather than as an ebook so you can appreciate the images at full size, and says “Some of the double-page spreads are simply stunning”.
She concludes that An Android Awakes is graphic sci-fi for a mature audience.
On the SFBookReviews website, Allen Stroud has written a thoughtful and interesting review of An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown. It would be difficult to do justice to his review without quoting at great length – which wouldn’t be fair to SFBook, so I suggest you follow the link at the end of this post to read it for yourself.
But, in summary, he describes the book as an “innovative throwback”, presenting a picture story as in days gone-by to a modern graphic novel audience, noting that the illustrations do not have narrative content as in a graphic novel or comic book. He found the premise of the story in the text “fascinating”, and suggests that the links between the submissions reflecting the Android’s experience as a struggling writer, result in a world in the reader’s imagination where these discreet tales all “fit together consistently” which, he says, “tells us something about ourselves as readers” and how our consumption of stories can create “instinctive habits”.
He writes that the “illustrations have a crisp and busy quality to them, providing images and faces to the scenes described”. He describes the Android’s tales as a “fascinating collection of intertextuality and remediation”. He concludes that An Android Awakens is “a thoughtful creation which will inspire thought in its readership”.
In a great review of the “fascinating” An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown on the Starburst magazine website, Matt Wells writes that it is a “wonderful little read” with some “truly memorable storylines”.
He says that the android’s “creative struggle is brilliantly written” and Karl’s illustrations “perfectly capture the narrative” with a style that “harks back to traditional 2000 AD”, adding that Karl is definitely an artist to look out for in the future. He says that “Fans of 2000 AD and dystopian sci-fi will be doing themselves a disservice if they don’t read An Android Awakes, as it really does hit all the right notes”. Matt concludes by saying that An Android Awakes is a “delightful read which boasts a truly unique concept” and is “not to be missed by fans of pure sci-fi escapism”.
Read Matt’s full review on the Starburst magazine website here.
On the website Skuds’ Sister’s Brother, Skuds in Life has written a review of An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown. Skuds starts by saying that, while reading the book, he kept thinking of a kaleidoscope because the various stories written by Android Writer PD121928 include characters and motifs that keep cropping up in different ways. He says that there are “enough ideas in the book to make several books”, which he says he felt when he read one of Mike French’s other books, which has the effect of keeping “the novelty coming” so that as well as “fresh events” you are “getting fresh character, scenarios and everything else every few pages” which he says can be exhausting but is never boring! He says that some of the characters will stay with you for a long time – he cites as examples the Button Man (“who has a real League of Gentlemen bizarre scariness to him”) and the superhero angels.
Pointing out that this is neither just a novel nor is it a typical graphic novel, he describes the illustrations as having a “similar feel to the old 2000 AD comic”. He concludes that you could “just read the words and ignore the pictures but you would be missing out” because although they don’t add to the plot they do “contribute greatly to the mood and tone of the book”.
the pictures…contribute greatly to the mood and tone of the book
He starts by describing the book as “a beautiful and extraordinary package filled with entertainment, style and originality”, adding that it’s one of the most original speculative fiction novels he’s read this year due to the fact that it’s “full of novel ideas that are handled masterfully”. When you open the book and start reading, Seregil says, “you’ll immediately notice that you’re about to read something extraordinary”. As you keep reading the feeling intensifies, and when you reach the end you’ll “most likely be stunned by what you have just read, because this novel grabs hold of the reader’s imagination”. He observes that the main story “unfolds fantastically towards the end” and that journey to the end is “entertaining and rewarding. The story reads almost like an exotic blend of Blade Runner and Sin City that has been coated with Rhys Hughes-like inventiveness.”
Seregil goes on to discuss the characters in some of the stories written by Android Writer PD121928, some of which are “amazing” and the stories are “fascinating”, as well as how grim and bleak the existence of an android writer is in the future that Mike has created. He adds that including details of the rejection letters that were sent to the android writer “added a bit of harsh realism to the story”. The stories and artwork “deliver readers a feast of unique sights” that are “awesome in their inventiveness”, says Seregil who then says that it’s been a while since he’s read “anything as inventive as this novel.”
He commends Mike’s writing as “excellent” and says that the story is “a veritable page-turner, because you want to find out what happens to the android writer”, with the tension growing nicely towards the end as time is running out. Seregil says that the stories demonstrate how good a writer Mike is, and show the “same kind of imagination and fascinating surrealism that can be found in Mike French’s The Dandelion Trilogy”; he says Mike is a talented author who “dares to use his imagination in a creative way”. He writes stories and novels that are “intriguingly different and highly entertaining … full of subtle beauty and different kinds of wonders”.
Karl’s “beautiful pictures”, Seregil says, fit this novel perfectly complementing the story to “make it an interesting reading experience”. Karl has “an eye for small and important details, because he captures elements from the stories and represents them in detailed black-and-white pictures that stimulate the reader’s imagination. I look forward to seeing more of his artwork.”
Seregil concludes by saying that An Android Awakes “manages to do what most novels fail to do” – it challenges the reader’s view of what novels can be like and makes the reader think about what happens in the story. He says, “It offers escapism, intelligent entertainment, visionary storytelling and beautiful art in an amazing all-in-one package. It’s truly something to behold, because it’s a unique achievement in storytelling.” His final thoughts are that it is “deliciously irresistible”, and “so amazing and cool that you can’t put it down until you’ve reached the end”. Highly recommended! Don’t miss it, says Seregil.
This has been a (long) short summary of Seregil’s review (and I hope he won’t mind that I’ve included lots of quotes from it!). You should definitely read the full review on the Risingshadow.net website here.
On the speculative fiction website Upcoming4.me, in the Story behind the Story section, Mike French has written a guest article about the making of An Android Awakes which is published next month and launched at the Brighton Film and Comic Con on the 7th November. Mike explains how he and artist Karl Brown met and how they worked together throughout this ambitious and innovative project – through highs and lows – with weekly face to face meetings and read-throughs to marry the artwork with the text. Mike describes the result as akin to a concept album such as The Wall by Pink Floyd – but what Mike and Karl fail to identify is, by the way, which one’s Pink.