Friday, January 29, 2016

We May Always Love

I may love him, I may love him, for he is a man, and I am only a beech-tree.  -Phantastes

Today I finished reading Phantastes by George MacDonald for the first time.  Beautiful book.  Read it.  I had no choice but to try to write poetry after reading it; so here is my best attempt at a tribute poem.  I wish I were better at poems with actual rhyme and meter; that would be more appropriate for a Phantastes poem; but I comfort myself with memory of Anodos' own disclaimers, that his poems are just poor shadows of what he found in Faerie.

We may love, we may love,
we may always love -
Only not to claim, and grasp, and own.
We may yearn, we may yearn,
we may always yearn -
Yet for their good, and their heart's home.
We may treasure them up in our heart,
And we may pray, we may pray,
we may always pray
That they may find mercy.

Yet we may not always serve,
For our service may be a burden.
Not for us to give milk to the child of another,
When for its own mother's breast it cries.
Not for us to wait upon every desire
When our beloved does not need yet another toy.
Not for us to throw ourselves at the feet of one we love
When his own wife already stands by his side.
But we may love, we may love,
we may always love,
And be glad every time another we love finds his dear companion,
And feel sweet pleasure to see him holding his child,
And pray with tears of love for all.

We may love, we may love,
we may always love,
And into such love no jealousy or hurt can enter,
Only compassion, and concern, and tender pain.

Offer your services where they are wanted and needed,
But love widely - love more widely than your steps can ever go.
Love the one weeping in the arms of her mother,
But hold to your bosom the weeping child who has no other.
Love those in distant corners of the world;
Love those who sit on street corners;
Love those who have died long ago;
Love those yet to be born.
Love the suffering, love the blissful,
Love the weak, love the strong,
Love those with needs you have no way to solve,
Love those you have no right to embrace.
Love those who flee from you;
Love those who spit upon you;
Love those who curse the name of your God -
Love all and serve whom you can.

You will find enough, and more than enough,
That your hand may do.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Best of the Hugos, Part 5: The Artwork of Sarah Webb

Continuing the series on the Hugo Awards:

From previous posts:
Part 1: The Must-Reads
1. "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" by Rachel Swirsky
2. "The Waiting Stars" by Aliette de Bodard
3. "Time" by Randall Munroe
Part 2: The Most Addictive
4. Parasite by Mira Grant
5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Part 3: Mary Robinette Kowal
6. "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal
7. Writing Excuses by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler
8.  "We Have Always Fought" by Kameron Hurley

9.  Sarah Webb's art

The Hugo voting works like a runoff system, except that you put in a preference vote ahead of time so they don’t need to hold separate runoff votes.  It’s very rare for anyone to do so well in the voting that they get a majority before going to a final runoff round between two candidates.  That is, it’s rare for anyone to be preferred by more people than the next two combined.  This year, only two nominees did that well:  Ancillary Justice (which I'm planning to write about soon; it's one fine novel) and one other.

The other?  It did so well in the voting that it didn’t need any runoffs at all.  A majority of the Hugo voters voted for it to come in first in its category.  Not just in the top two or three.  First.

That’s crazy rare.  I don’t feel like sifting through all the historical data to find out just how rare - but it’s rare.

I am among that majority, and happy to be.  I was overwhelmed.

I didn't even realize until researching to see if I could find any free online reference for all of you:  To my shock, the person who won that distinct honor is a 19-year-old college student.

Sarah Webb is one talented young woman, and her landslide victory in the Best Fan Artist category is well-deserved.  As one person I saw online put it, we expect to see her return to the Hugos - but in the future it may well be for Best Professional Artist instead of Best Fan Artist.  She certainly deserves to get some commissions.

We shall see.  In the meanwhile, here’s a link to her portfolio.  It is stunningly beautiful work.  I can’t talk nearly as intelligently about art as I can about writing, so I’ll just say that her paintings transport me to another world and fill me with awe; that they are many and varied; and that I have fallen even more deeply in love with these paintings than I did with the paintings of Charlemagne and of the Angel of Death in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and that is saying a lot.  That they're realistic, yet with a curve, a character, a turn of line that captures a feeling of wonder, of escape.  That the scenes they depict are sometimes things that could be real and sometimes things that couldn't; that they're drawn from multiple cultures and times; but always the people in the paintings feel like people I want to meet.

How many different ways can I say CLICK THAT LINK AND SEE FOR YOURSELF?

Be sure to zoom in as much as you can - her work stands up really well to zooming in.

Okay, and there are a lot of good ones, but here is a direct link to one of my very favorites.  I can't stop looking at it.


Edit:  I just realized my links are to her lower-resolution website.  Here's a link to her higher-resolution portfolio.

The Best of the Hugos, Part 4: "We Have Always Fought"

Continuing the series on the Hugo Awards:

From previous posts:
Part 1: The Must-Reads
1. "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" by Rachel Swirsky
2. "The Waiting Stars" by Aliette de Bodard
3. "Time" by Randall Munroe
Part 2: The Most Addictive
4. Parasite by Mira Grant
5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Part 3: Mary Robinette Kowal
6. "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal
7. Writing Excuses by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

8.  "We Have Always Fought" by Kameron Hurley

Blog posts.  Nice little amateur things.  Easy ways for anyone to be heard, to get their voice out there.  I'm glad you're reading my little blog post.

And then there are blog posts.

This is easily the best piece of short nonfiction I've read all year.  It won the Hugo for Best Related Work.  Kameron Hurley won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer, a highly competitive category, since there are a *lot* of bloggers out there - I heartily recommend all the nominees and will give at least four of the five their own posts.  And A Dribble of Ink, the online magazine that posted this, won the Hugo for Best Fanzine.  I highly recommend A Dribble of Ink just generally and it'll get its own post at some point; it's a very well curated magazine and contains lots of really impressive pieces.

But this is the most impressive of all.

So.  You should really read this award-winning blog post.

When we tell stories as a culture repeatedly, we get blinders on.  Sometimes our stories start to seem more realistic than the truth.  This is a much-needed pushback.  A push back towards the truth.  And it's long overdue.

It's primarily an opinion piece.  If you want more links proving her point, well, as she says, "Foz Meadows does a better job with all the linky-links."  Click on the link she gives there and then start following links and you'll have a fun clicky linky-linky time for quite a sizeable stretch of time.

Ode to a Postcarious Broom

You stood
Tall and proud
Against the table
Until you didn't.

(Dubious title credit: Quettandil.  I'm sorry, everyone, I couldn't resist.)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Best of the Hugos, Part 3: Mary Robinette Kowal

Continuing the series on the Hugo Awards:

From previous posts:
Part 1: The Must-Reads
1. "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" by Rachel Swirsky
2. "The Waiting Stars" by Aliette de Bodard
3. "Time" by Randall Munroe
Part 2: The Most Addictive
4. Parasite by Mira Grant
5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

6.  "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal

My first introduction to Mary Robinette Kowal was listening to Writing Excuses, which - well, see #7 just below.  I have since learned that she has been a professional puppeteer, that she loves the Regency period, that she has sewn her own historical costumes, that she writes delightful novels in a Jane Austen-y time period (I'm in the middle of that series now), that she is a rather delightful person by all accounts, and that my sister-in-law has met her at English country dancing events and talked to her about Regency-era dancing and also likes her.  But I didn't know any of that when I read this story.  All I knew was that I liked her on Writing Excuses.  Well, after I read this novelette, I knew that she was a wonderful writer and I wanted to read all her books.  And so did lots of other people - this story won the Hugo for Best Novelette.  

Although it was a wonderful, wonderful story, I'm afraid I didn't actually want it to win because "The Waiting Stars" was among its competition.  But I was incredibly torn about that vote and waffled a bit before settling on "The Waiting Stars," and when you know how much I love "The Waiting Stars," you realize how much it means that I would agonize about a vote.  And given that "The Waiting Stars" did win the Nebula, I don't feel very sorry.

Enough with the preliminaries.  This is a wonderful story!  It's about space travel.  It's about the dream of space travel.  It's about an older woman, a rare thing in itself - she's in her sixties.  It's about the stresses of choosing between family and vocation, a theme it pursues from several angles.  It's about friendship and mentorship and what a single kind gesture can mean.  About where we find inspiration.

Honestly, this is another must-read and I couldn't give you any solid reason why I didn't stick it up at #4 above Saga and Parasite and tell you everyone should read it just like the others.  In fact I'm rather tempted to do that now, but I'll leave it be and just tell you that these rankings depend in part on my mood, and in many a mood this one is right up there with the very best - even leapfrogging "The Waiting Stars" up to #1 or #2 in a few rare moods, which is why it was so hard to vote.  I have no caveats.  It's a masterpiece.  Like my official "top three," this 8,047-word beauty makes my eyes tear up and teaches me something about the world I never saw before, a perspective I'd never come across anywhere else.  Like them, it's a short read and available for free, so there's just no reason not to read it.  (It should take about 30 minutes for an average reader.)

Just the part where it's about an older woman is enough to make it a very important story to tell.  In her acceptance speech, Mary Robinette Kowal thanked her grandmother, who lived to be 109 years old, for showing her that "even when you are old, you can still be wonderful and powerful."  She got that concept across in this story.  Few people try to express that idea.  She tried and succeeded.

7.  Writing Excuses by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

"Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart."  Their tagline is endearing, but it's blatantly false.  They ARE that smart.

Writing Excuses didn't win a Hugo this year, but it did last year.  This whip-smart weekly podcast of writers giving writing advice was a nominee for Best Related Work, as is its habit (four-time nominee, one-time winner).

I've known I wanted to listen to it since learning that Brandon Sanderson was a part of it; his books are among my very favorites by a living author and I fully expected him to give superlatively good advice, especially since he's totally had the day job of working as a writing instructor.  But it's even better than I expected.  Especially because of Mary Robinette Kowal.  As I said just above, she's amazing.  (I didn't intentionally put both her nominated works next to each other - it just happened that way!)  But there's no weak link on this four-person team.  They're all great.

Seriously, if you have any interest in writing whatsoever, you MUST listen to this podcast.  Their advice is superb.  They very consistently come out with one a week and by now you have almost nine full 52-episode seasons to choose from.  The titles are clear, so you can choose topics you feel like you particularly need help with.  But even their treatment of topics I don't particularly think I'm interested in (Pets?  I don't think I want to write a pet story...) always turns out to be interesting and at least tangentially applicable to things I need to know to be a better writer.  They always end with a writing exercise related to the topic of the podcast, something to develop your skills with.  I haven't been doing them... but I suspect that if I do work on becoming a more serious writer, doing them would be one of the biggest favors I could do myself.  They also include a book recommendation - it's always an audiobook available from Audible because they're sponsored by Audible, but of course you can get it in any format you want.  :)  I haven't been reading those either, but, well, when I've already read the book in question, I can always tell that it's perfect for the topic and generally good to read.

Meanwhile, I just like them.  The four of them have great personalities and interact with each other in a completely endearing, mildly goofy, respectful, fun way.  You get to listen to four friends acting like awesome friends do as they teach you.  To my Torrey friends, it reminds me of nothing so much as what happens if you put Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Sanders, Dr. Spears, and Dr. Llizo in a room together... It makes me smile, and it's so much fun, I'd probably enjoy it a fair amount even if I had no interest in writing!

That said, if you have no interest in writing, this probably isn't for you.  But if you do, it is!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Best of the Hugos, Part 2: Parasite and Saga

First things first: If you haven't read the first installment of my Hugo reading recommendations, go here.  And if you have no idea what the Hugos are, go here.

And now it's time for more reading recommendations for you!

We're now getting to the part of the show where instead of saying, "Everyone should read this!" like I did about everything on the first list, I say, "I loved it, and I think many of you would love it too, but it's not for absolutely everyone, so read the caveats!"  I'm still sorting it roughly in order by how much I liked it and how much I expect that a random one of my friends would like it.

4.  Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite, one of the nominees for Best Novel, was one of the first things I started reading for the Hugos, and it's definitely one of my favorites.  While I certainly don't begrudge Ancillary Justice the well-deserved Hugo and Nebula wins (it'll be showing up at... #10 on my list, if I don't rearrange things any more before posting, and it's an incredibly sophisticated, impressive book), I do love Parasite even more.

Incidentally, I also love The Wheel of Time even more than either, but Wheel of Time will not show up on this list until much later just because it's such a freakishly long work and when it comes to recommendations for people I'm assuming are less obsessed with sci-fi and fantasy than me, I weight more highly things that don't require literally six full work-weeks to read.  (At 4.4 million words, The Wheel of Time would take an average reader about 250-300 hours to complete.  Over six work-weeks.  Of reading.)  But more about that on the eventual day when I put Wheel of Time on this list.

Anyway, enough about relative ratings!  Let me tell you what I love about Parasite!

First, I should mention that it's one of my least favorite subgenres of the sci-fi/fantasy genre: near-future sci-fi set in the boring ol' USA with a substantial undertone of horror.  I generally prefer stories that are set in different places and times with wildly different cultures, and I've never liked horror in any form.  So if that sounds unappealing to you, know that it sounds unappealing to me too - but I loved it!

Why is it an exception?

The single biggest reason is the delightful protagonist and narrator, Sal.  I like Sal.  I like her a lot.  And I like her boyfriend, too.  I was hooked from page one, listening to her talk about herself, getting to know the world through her eyes.  I laughed out loud often reading this book courtesy of Sal's wit.

Okay, a little plot, though I try to dispense plot sparingly in a review:  You meet Sal as an amnesiac.  She got into a terrible car accident and was actually declared dead, but then she was revived by an experimental medical technology: the implantation of a particular medically developed parasite.  However, her memory was completely gone, and her personality changed dramatically too.  Pretty much everyone agrees the personality change was for the better - no one liked her much before, and almost everyone likes her now.  But for the rest, she couldn't even remember how to walk and talk; as a person in her late teens, she had to relearn everything about how to function.  Most of the action takes place six years after the accident.  She's functioning as an adult now.  Almost everyone has those parasites now, and she's the poster child for their effectiveness.  She gets free treatments for continued health from SymboGen, the company that manufactures the parasites; in fact, they give her money and she lives very well.  But in exchange for those free treatments, she has to continue to come in for check-ups and a little experimentation.

My major caveat:  The plot is a little predictable.  It takes a while getting to twists which you see coming as a reader a mile away.  And meanwhile it's not very plausible scientifically but spends a little too much time trying to be - I suspect my medical student friends will laugh in a not-very-complimentary way a few times if they read it.

However, in the middle of this implausible science comes a story which is highly plausible as far as human nature goes.  Don't believe humans would consent to having parasites inside them?  Well, Grant does a great job of showing a situation when they just might.  And och, her understanding has a bit of a bite.  She understands advertising campaigns.  She understands what we fear and what we love and how we make decisions.  Sometimes that's complimentary.  More often it... isn't.

The predictability of the plot is also forgivable because the entire point is that it should be obvious, but there are particular psychological reasons why it still comes as a shock to Sal.  Reasons which I find entirely plausible.  When the reveal does come, Sal realizes that she should have figured it out sooner - as the reader almost certainly has - and kicks herself a little for it.  So the predictable plot makes the story a bit less fun to read if you like plot mysteries (I do, though they're not my favorite thing), but rewards you with more thematic psychological insights about what we believe and why, which I think is worth it.

Summary time!

Why should you read Parasite?

To fall in love with Sal.

To laugh out loud with Sal.

For the most glorious scene I have ever read or heard of in which someone leaves an unhealthy relationship/situation.  She escapes a bad situation and does it without hatred.  She forgives the person who hurt her and makes it clear that she wishes that person no ill, but that in order to have a healthy life she must leave.  It's amazing.

For a smart criticism of modern advertising and its attendant dangers with a real bite from someone who clearly understands human nature very well.

For characters with courage, kindness, and determination in one awesome package.

Why might you not want to read Parasite?

A predictable plot.

A plot with implausible science - suspension of disbelief is rather harder than usual.

A pretty high dose of horror.  As the plot progresses, some of the events get more and more grotesque.  You could have nightmares about what happens in the second half of the book.  I shuddered and felt nauseous a lot.

Sal is sleeping with her boyfriend.  It's not too graphic on that front, but it's there.

It's only the first book in a trilogy, and waiting for future installments is agony.

5.  Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga, a nominee for Best Graphic Story, actually got my vote over "Time," though I agonized between them at length and which I think is better depends on my mood.  Given how highly I think of "Time," that should tell you something.  On this list, "Time" comes in higher because I have no hesitation in recommending it to everyone, while as you'll see Saga has a couple caveats.  But oh, I loved Saga.

In some ways, this is just another Romeo & Juliet romance... in space!  Two lovers from families who hate each other and are constantly fighting, yadda-yadda-yadda.  In this case, it's two planets who are constantly fighting, and "Romeo" comes from a humanoid race with horns while "Juliet" comes from a humanoid race with wings.  (So yes, "Juliet" knows from the first that he's a hated "Montague," and they... don't have nearly as positive a first interaction or fall in love nearly as quickly.)

But how about if instead of killing themselves, Romeo and Juliet had escaped, eloped together, gotten married, left behind both their homes, fleeing hunters who think of them as traitors to their home planets... and had a baby?

Saga is the story of two young parents who gave up everything because of their love for each other.  It's a story of constant danger and delightful action.  It's a story with some amazing comedy as they try to figure out how to be parents in such adverse circumstances.  And there's some heartwarming romance.

Meanwhile, the art is incredible.  Fiona Staples, the artist, was nominated for a Hugo for Best Professional Artist, and with good reason.  It's incredibly imaginative - there are lots of aliens, some humanoid, some not even close, and lots of different worlds.  You can get lost in the art of Saga.  The expressions on the main characters' faces often add greatly to the comedy and/or drama of what is going on - it's just great graphic novel art.

I got so hooked.  More than maybe any of the others, I did not want to put Saga down.

What are my caveats?

Well, the biggest one is that there are a couple of near-pornographic sex scenes between "Romeo" and "Juliet."  Not quite what I'd call actually pornographic, but close; and there's some rather explicit dialogue among the heartwarming romantic stuff, too.  They're married, so I don't think any of my friends would think badly of them for it... but some might still not want to read it as a result.  And it certainly makes it less something you'd want kids to read.

My second caveat?  AGGGGHHH THE SERIES IS UNFINISHED!!!  :whine:

I say this, but I still haven't actually read Volume 3, which came out this year.  Or even Volume 1, believe it or not.  With a supreme effort of will, I forced myself to stop because I still had way too much other Hugo stuff to read and not enough time for detours.  And only Volume 2 was nominated.

Um, yeah, it was a surprise to me that the story was so understandable without Volume 1.  Volume 2 honestly felt like the beginning.  I really don't know exactly what kind of stuff they put into Volume 1.  Volume 2 tells how "Romeo" and "Juliet" met, a lot about their background, and sets up the conflicts I see.  So my other real caveat is... I don't actually know what Volume 1 is like!

Thanks to this post, I have now remembered that it is high time I got my hands on a copy of Volume 1 and Volume 3 and did some reading!  ^_^ be continued...

The Best of the Hugos

Well, the Hugo reading was a great experience.  It was long and difficult and ate a good chunk of my life, but it expanded my world and treated me to great beauty as well.  It reminded me that there are many people creating beautiful things out there and many fellow fans with strong, worthwhile opinions busy enjoying and commenting on them.  It made me proud to be a sci-fi and fantasy fan.

I've been meaning to post about my favorite stories ever since I finished those last ones at the end of July and cast my votes.  Well, now, near the end of September, I'm finally making good on that.  Friends, it's time for me to share with you things I really don't want you to miss.  Spending two months of your life reading extensively in fantasy and sci fi from the last year?  Probably more than most of my friends want to do.  But now it's time for me to share with you some things that I think my much-less-devoted friends should still read.  Beautiful things.  Encouraging things.  Thought-provoking things.  Deserving things.  And I'll try to give enough particular things about each one to pique your interest and to give you a chance to figure out if one of them might not really be for you.

Here, without further ado, are the three Hugo nominees I most think everyone should read.

There will be more posts to come, hopefully in rapid succession, but these are the first.

All three of these my favorites are available for free online!  The title of each section is a link.  :)

1.  "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" by Rachel Swirsky

I begin with a very short story I am not going to tell you very much about.  I want to, but I don't know how to explain why I think you should read it without spoiling anything.  So I will just say that it is a beautiful story, every word perfectly chosen.  That it is wonderful.  That it won the Nebula for best short story (voted on by the Science Fiction Writers of America), and I think it's kind of insane that it didn't win the Hugo also.  And that it's only 979 words long, so at an average reading pace it will only take you four minutes to read it.  Read it.  They will be a wonderful four minutes.

2.  "The Waiting Stars" by Aliette de Bodard

Yep, there's a theme here:  I love me the Nebula-winning Hugo nominees.  This was the Nebula-winning novelette.  This one is 10,026 words, so an average reader will take more like 30-40 minutes to read it.  So I'll tell you a little more about why you should invest the time.

Ms. de Bodard was born in the US, grew up in France, spoke French at home, and writes in (highly fluent) English.  She is also half Vietnamese.  She is far more aware of cultural differences than most people.  It shows.  She has a beautiful essay which I read in one of the Hugo-nominated fanzines, The Book Smugglers, about Western and Eastern fairy tales and some of the important differences between them, about the way Western tales, including Western fantasy, are shaped by our Western worldview.  We say that certain kinds of stories are universal, or that certain kinds of things characterize all good stories - and Ms. de Bodard is willing to argue that in many of those cases, we are wrong.  She grew up with Eastern fairy tales and loves them, including when they break many of our Western rules.  She also loves Western fantasy and sci-fi.  And so now she tells tales which are outgrowths of her love for both cultures.

Here's a key quote from the essay I linked to above:

"This is a strong part of the bedrock I build my stories on. It is at odds with the general SFF impetus–which is often one of lone adventurers striking out for themselves (what I call the “frontier/pioneer ethos”), of conflicts that escalate until victory is reached. It took me years to understand that even though such stories are generally not to my taste (and indeed starkly against my instincts of what a good story should read like), reading an accumulation of them had cemented an “ideal” image of SF in my mind, where no story was worth anything without conflict.

"In my work, I’ve had to push against the instinct to conform to this overall narrative (which is mainly Western, and I suspect strongly driven by colonisation tropes). It is not an easy ideal to have in one’s mind for writing SFF–not when my first instincts go towards families working as a whole, and reconciliation rather than conquest; when the aliens that the main characters meet sometimes seem like transparent metaphors for the first contact between European colonisers and soon-to-be colonised locals; when the reference base for so much SFF seems to be the Anglophone West, and the people I’m meant to identify with sometimes seem more alien than the aliens themselves in their relentless drive to isolate themselves or be the absolute best at everything."

"The Waiting Stars" is amazing.  And I can't imagine that I or any other purely Western person could ever have written it, at least not without, well, reading and being shaped by Eastern fairy tales.  It's amazing in an unexpected (to me) way.  And I'm utterly in love with the result.  I want more like this.  Our culture needs more like this.  Because although the more typical Western story can be beautiful and brilliant and helpful and good, so can the Eastern stories she describes and tries to imitate.  And our culture is, well, not very balanced.

Fair warning:  "The Waiting Stars" is very sad.  It's a story of conflict in the heart of someone who doesn't know where she belongs.  It's a story of a Western-like culture and an Eastern-like culture at odds, and it's obvious that there are real good things about both, even though they are antithetical to each other - it's not a clear tale of finding a perfect heaven-on-earth and there is no pure happy ending that is even possible.  And it's a story of someone who knows in the end that she must choose between two great loves.

When I read it, and even now when I just think about it, tears come to my eyes, but I also feel full of awe and a sense of beauty.

Read it.  I don't think you'll be sorry.

3.  "Time" by Randall Munroe

This beautiful story was the winner of the Best Graphic Story Hugo.  For those who don't already know, Munroe, the author of the hilarious stick-figure webcomic xkcd, originally published "Time" as a webcomic which updated at a rate of one frame per hour for 3101 frames - yes, that means it took 129 days and 5 hours before it was all released into the world.  The link above takes you to a page where you can watch it at your own pace, setting a reasonable number of frames per second, speeding up, slowing down, pausing, and rewinding as desired, and can also let you automatically choose to spend longer on frames people have voted as "important" - key if you want to catch the dialogue when speech bubbles appear, for example.  For reference, I believe it took me somewhere between 60 and 75 minutes to feel like I had fully enjoyed the story, most of that towards the end.

"Time" is also unlike anything I've ever read before, and in more ways than format.  The story starts off with such adorable innocence - a man and a woman building sandcastles together.  As it continues, it turns into a story with courage and heroism.  It's full of this childlike wonder at the world - the protagonists don't know very much about the world and they delight in every new thing they learn about it.  Along the way, it says a lot about what it is to do science, how best to learn, how best to thrive in this crazy beautiful world of ours.  It's a story of cooperation in the face of difficulty, and an example of how to take setbacks as delightful puzzles.  I love it.  Enjoy.

I have many more to recommend to you, but those are my top three, and if you don't listen to me about any of the others, but do listen to me about these, I'll be satisfied.  :)