Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari: Read it if you’re world building

Earlier this year, I downloaded an audiobook: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind — thinking it’ll be an educational listen and nothing more. Yet, as I started to get through it, I realized that there was a connection between what I was hearing and what I was creating.

While working on my novel, I’m creating culture, religion, laws, languages, etc. just like humanity at the dawn of time. Sitting there on the couch one night, I had an epiphany.

When world building there is no better template than the place we are already residing in. The number one take away I got from the book by Yuval Noah Harari is that so much of human society is through imagined constructs and stories.

From religion, culture, currency, government, social hierarchy, gender equality, and so on, all these are examples of life we consider to be tangible, but it isn’t… it’s a set of beliefs and it can be modified. And while you can certainly set off to change these aspects in real life, I first encourage you to take those elements and use them as a springboard to invent your own world.

If you are interested in reading Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, here is an affiliate link to Audible: https://amzn.to/2yJxUBo

Advertisements

Book Review – This One Summer

Formerly published in Ricepaper Magazine

51pPqSnhtBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_THIS ONE SUMMER
By Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Groundwood Books (May 6, 2014)
320 Pages, $17.99 (Paperback Graphic Novel)

 

REVIEWED BY ELLIOT CHAN

 

Awago Beach has been a summer sanctuary for Rose and her parents for as long as she can remember. Fresh air, a private lakeside cabin, and Rose’s friend, Windy, make up for the monotonous humdrum of childhood vacations. But, this one summer, Rose dares to overstep her boundaries. Fueled by fascination, naive yearning, and repressed angst, Rose becomes entrenched with the complicated lives of the local teenagers and her parents themselves—in addition to bingeing on candy and horror movies.

This One Summer flows like a dreamy, lazy July afternoon, the kind that doesn’t last forever, unless in our memories. The humorous yet meditative storytelling plays on the reader’s nostalgia, while the illustrations offer a vantage of yesteryears that many of us are beginning to misremember. The coming-of-age graphic novel is sincere, captivating, and poignant, but most of all it is a faithful rendering of both ephemeral and intense moments that makes up a season in a life.

Mariko and Jillian Tamaki skillfully capture the subtleties of adolescence, teenage-hood, and even adulthood. With a few simple frames and some indispensible words, the hesitation of youth, the dynamic of a modern family, and the consequences of reckless decisions are fully presented with a heartfelt attitude that is pure and powerful.

This One Summer is the Tamaki cousins’ second full-length collaboration. In 2008 their graphic novel, Skim, a story about the culture and conflicts at an all-girl Catholic school, received wide acclaim for its equally passionate presentation of the younger generation. There is no doubt that there is a harmonized understanding between the two artists. The ability to place the microscope on such a tender corner of existence is an element that is often absent in most of life’s maturing ventures.

Mariko and Jillian remind us in This One Summer that new experiences have no age restrictions, and that coming of age is actually a lifelong endeavour. Although the focal point of the story is on Rose, she is in fact the supporting character to the real drama of those around her. We have all stood where she stood, at the perimeter of other’s lives, helpless to assist, and powerless to disengage. We ride the turbulent waves, while witnessing the ebb and flow of those around us. This stunningly candid graphic novel, in the end, encourages us all to stand by those we love and overcome the adversity of another fleeting summer.

Book Review – You Are A Cat! by Sherwin Tjia

by ELLIOT.CHAN on Feb 3, 2014

Formerly published by Ricepaper Magazine.

youareacatwebsmall

You Are A Cat! 
by Sherwin Tjia

Conundrum Press, Oct. 2011,
240 pages, 80 b/w illustrations $17 (Paperback)

Reviewed by Elliot Chan.

As someone who finds felines endearing and adorable—but is also allergic to them—I’m trapped in a love-hate relationship with those sometimes cuddly and sometimes savage domesticated beasts. Regardless of your own personal experience with cats, Sherwin Tjia’s choose-your-own-adventure-style story, You Are a Cat, will offer a fictionalized insight of what it takes to walk a mile with paws and claws.

You are Holden Catfield, or should I say, I was Holden Catfield, the beloved cat to an average family of four—or at least everything on the exterior seemed average. What began as a relaxing day chasing squirrels turned dark as each decision I took led me to discover the shadowy intentions of humans. Tjia paced the story brilliantly, moving from the monotony of a catnapping tale to a daring escape, and then becoming a wallflower, overlooking the misdeeds of the family.

Tjia’s subtly placed illustrations offer a sometimes menacing and sometimes tantalizing viewpoint from a cat’s perspective. With only the extension of the paw, I, as well as Holden, could clearly see the expression of each human face and recognize the looks of adoration, danger and guilt.

Although my adventure ended in a tragically anticlimactic fashion, yours might not. You Are a Cat is a fantastic light read that you can pick up over and over again and find new adventures, because the brief excursions of Holden Catfield allow it. Where does your cat go when you let it wander out the door or the window? Who does it meet? That’s your cat’s decision. Unless you keep constant surveillance on it, you’ll never know.

You Are a Cat is not only an exploration of what it is to be a pet, but also what it’s like to interact with animals. Take a look at your own pet and ask yourself: what weird stuff has my cat seen me doing? You should feel a little embarrassed after reading it.

I recommend you choose your own adventure, but if you want to read the story I read, here are my page-turning choices in You Are a Cat:

2, 6, 17, 23, 170, 27, 49, 142, 10, 35, 92, 104, 124, 119, 128, 134, 143, 136, 140, 64, 86, 182, 81, 174, 84, 186, 177, 189, 194, 199, 200, THE END