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Genesis Genesis Genesis

Genesis back

Nathan Edmondson & Alison Sampson


Page 45 Review by Stephen

"So quickly I have learned what haunted means. It is not some phantom from the afterlife, it is what we hold in our minds and do not release; it is the blade with which we cut ourselves, masochists to the end."

Oh, but this is beautiful: a short story made epic by the art!

Intricate in detail yet gigantic in scale, the mountainous landscapes warp and flow as they are created and uncreated by the mind of a man who has acquired the ability to make manifest whatever he so desires but not the power to control it. There is no off-switch.

There is no moment of not.

For you know how ideas flash fleetingly into your mind even if pushed back immediately afterwards? Imagine that was too late and those ideas became actuality.

This is a man who from childhood had been raised to want to change the world: to believe that he would indeed change the world. The boy played with building blocks, creating houses and towns which were in his mind as detailed as the architecture he saw all around him. As an adult he built a church and created a congregation for it, but though they listened they learned nothing and changed not at all, so nothing around them changed either. So he jumped from its steeple and that should have been that.

It was just the beginning. For when the man wakes up he discovers that his childhood imagination is matched by reality. What he wishes for instantly occurs. Buildings are built, the famished are fed and it happens before the blink of an eye. Even his wife's hair becomes fuller. But what happens at home one night - not a lapse in judgement but a simple cause and effect - destabilises everything. The man comes undone and as the man comes undone so does everything around him.

"Desire met and battled my thoughts. My subconscious was like a tide washing over what my mind wrote in the beach sand.
"But like trying to stop the flow of water with your hands, it continued.
"It is impossible to tell yourself to stop thinking a thought."

If there is a lesson I learned here it is how desperately we all need our physical parameters. And company. Without either lies madness.

For me this is (predominantly) a horror story that made me quite queasy. I couldn't look away because I loved what I looked at. Coloured so sensitively by Jason Wordie that the light shines through, Alison Sampson has matched the imagination of the protagonist and has herself made manifest what is in his and her minds. The landscapes bulge and buckle, reconfigure and spiral away on command.

Her bear is a beauty (there is a bear), but there are moments which elicit more intellectual smiles like the double-page spread in which the global architect attempts to fix things, starting from scratch and going back to basics. The basics in his case were childhood building blocks which we see on the very first page. But were you never given also a kit of cardboard whose pop-out pieces had folding lines and tabs?

In some ways the style harks back two decades, but with the production values of today (the paper quality and, I repeat, Jason Wordie's colouring) it feels thoroughly fresh and looks thrilling.