Tim Minchin's Storm, a magnificent rant about woo and the miracle of reality (the book)
The classic 2011 animated poem about a party where Minchin unloads the full weight of his love of science and reality to refute homeopathy and psychic phenomena is now a beautiful book, which Cory Doctorow read over the weekend.
Before Storm was an instant classic animation, it was a poem that Minchin used to perform onstage. It was at one of his shows that Tracy King and DC Turner, a married team of animators, were struck by the poem's beauty, compactness and necessity, and asked Minchin for permission to animate it. He assented, and the rest is history.
Now there's this book, which turns the animation into something like a picture book and something like a graphic novel, with introductions from Minchin (telling the story of the poem's journey from idea to poem to animation to book) and from Neil Gaiman (offering both support for Minchin's crusade for empiricism and compassion for a belief in the mystical) and afterwords from King and Turner, explaining how they came to decide to do the animation.
The animation is brilliant, as is the poem. The book is less good, but not because of anything it gets wrong: because part of what makes the poem great is Minchin's recitation, and part of what makes the video great is King and Turner's animation. Michin's words without his voice are less good than with; King and Turner's art without their animation are less good than with it.
But there's nothing wrong with Storm, the book. It's beautiful. It's funny. It's well-argued. It offers new insight into the creation of a classic work, and it is fun to read aloud. If I had to choose between this and the animation, I would choose the animation. But I don't have to choose -- and it's hard to put a Youtube video under the Atheism Shrub at Wintermas.
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