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Rasl [Hardcover]

Jeff Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 23.57
Price: 22.58 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Cartoon Books (17 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888963379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888963373
  • Product Dimensions: 25.7 x 19.6 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

When Rasl, a thief and ex-military engineer, discovers the lost journals of Nikola Tesla, he bridges the gap between modern physics and history's most notorious scientist. But his breakthrough comes at a price. In this twisting tale of violence, intrigue, and betrayal, Rasl finds himself in possession of humankind's greatest and most dangerous secret. New York Times-bestselling author Jeff Smith's follow up to his epic fantasy Bone is a gritty, hard-boiled tale of an inter-dimensional art thief caught between dark government forces and the mysterious powers of the universe itself. 472 page hardcover in full color!

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4.0 out of 5 stars Its no Bone 11 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Its no Bone, but its better than Shazam!!!! its a fine volume...a great story and its Jeff Smith!!!! Just but it at this great price
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Physics Today's online editor thinks of the book 6 Sep 2013
By Charles Day - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The ability to travel between different universes or between different dimensions of the same universe is a common plot element in speculative fiction. Multiple worlds not only boost the variety of settings that an author can depict, they also set up plot-enriching paradoxes, conflicts, and choices.

Most of the multiple-world works that I've read or watched present the worlds as an intrinsic and unexplained feature of the work's fictional universe. The Q Continuum of Star Trek: The Next Generation, for example, is an extradimensional plane of existence whose powerful, intelligent, and immortal inhabitants, the Q, can jump into our mundane plane to cause mischief. I've tried in vain to find a physical description of the Q Continuum.

But there are exceptions to the take-it-or-leave-it approach. In Ian McDonald's 2007 novel Brasyl, Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is not just an imaginative theory to account for the physically awkward notion of collapsing wave functions; it's also a description of how the world works.

Jeff Smith's comic-book series RASL goes further in exploring the physical basis of multiple worlds. Originally published in 15 black-and-white issues from February 2008 through August 2012, RASL was reissued this month in a single hardbound full-color volume. I read it in one sitting over Labor Day with much pleasure.

Like McDonald, Smith makes use of a speculative theory, in his case a unified field theory that the elderly Nikola Tesla claimed in 1937 to have completed. RASL`s main character, a researcher named Robert Johnson who later assumes the name RASL, gains access to Tesla's lost notebooks. In one of them, he finds the unpublished theory expounded in full.

In flashbacks, the reader learns that Johnson and his childhood friend and fellow researcher Miles Riley worked together for the US government on two military projects that exploit another of Tesla's theories: That electrical energy pervades the space between atoms. One project, called the St. George Array, is designed to extract the energy and use it as an antiballistic missile shield. The other, the T-suit, is a teleportation device for individual soldiers.

Johnson doesn't need Tesla's unified field theory to see that testing the St. George Array could result in a deadly, destructive disaster. And he perfects the T-suit by incorporating ideas that Albert Einstein described in the 1928 paper "New possibility for a unified field theory of gravitation and electricity." But Tesla's unified theory helps Johnson understand what the T-suit does: Transport its operator between parallel universes.

Johnson (as RASL) outlines Tesla's theory to a mysterious young girl and her companion after she draws a Venn-like diagram that also appears in Tesla's notebook:

"The 3-D world is created and powered by the interactions of the higher-dimensional clouds. [Tesla] wrote beneath it. 'All energy comes from outer dimensions and is pervasive throughout.'

"That overlaps with current string theory. Anywhere these clouds--or membranes--collide will create a new universe. Tesla discovered parallel universes.

"Ironically, he rejected them. He preferred to believe the higher dimensions were actually energy fields within the confines of our own universe."

RASL encompasses more than speculative theories and experimental devices. Smith weaves in the history of Tesla and his rivals, the Tunguska event, and the Philadelphia Experiment, in which the US Navy is alleged to have rendered one of its destroyers entirely invisible in 1943. The Pentagon's non-imaginary High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program also gets a mention.

The novel's plot is far richer than I've hinted at here. It unfolds like a film noir and contains such noirish staples as flashbacks, love affairs, betrayals, and bar-room fights. Jonhson's principal antagonist is a sinister agent from the Department of Homeland Security.

I won't disclose any more of the story lest you want to read the book yourself. But it's not giving too much away to say that in RASL the physical nature of the parallel universes is in dispute. Indeed, the dispute and its ramifications constitute a major source of dramatic tension.

Although RASL is a science-fiction thriller, it's not devoid of comedy--at least for physicists. Whether he meant to or not, Smith captures the disdain of physicists and engineers for the social sciences in this exchange between Johnson (as RASL) and Uma Giles, a museum curator whom he meets in a parallel universe:

RASL: Have you ever been interested in science?
UMA: Of course. I'm an anthropologist!
RASL: No, I mean physics. Or electricity.

This review first appeared on my blog, the Dayside [...]
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The visual and storytelling brilliance of Bone, but definitely NOT for the kids 8 Sep 2013
By Adam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I discovered Jeff Smith's Bone a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Acquiring every volume in the series, I ended up making Bone addicts out of my kids, too. So I was thrilled when Smith's RASL was announced to be issued in a single hard-bound volume. The storytelling, characters, and visual style are are 100% Smith. The reader is taken on an interdimensional race for the protagonist to protect the people and values he holds most dear. Surprisingly, the novel also stands as a historical testimony to the greatness of Tesla. Much of the novel is devoted to recounting the highs and lows of the troubled scientist's life. Smith's passion rivals that of "The Oatmeal," both of whom could likely raise sufficient support to see a resurrection of Tesla's life work.

Unfortunately, due to RASL's interactions with prostitutes and other unsavory characters, this is a novel I can only recommend to my peers and will need to be kept safe from my young kids' innocent eyes.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 180 from Bone 27 Sep 2013
By D. J. Threepwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jeff Smith first comic book Bone was a silly classic Lord of Rings like Adventure. RASL is a hard boiled noir tale.
I picked up the individual black and white comics while the series was being published.
However, the complete collection is in color which adds a nice "POP" to the story, you really get that sense of the Arizona Desert.
The binding is very nice and so is the dust jacket. Looks like a real nice fun book. Many guest thumb through it on my coffee table.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but ultimately forgetable 18 Dec 2013
By amit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I loved Jeff Smith's "Bone" comics. They were wonderful, and plenty of praise has been heaped upon them and Mr. Smith (and rightly so.)
"RASL" is a vastly different story in just about every respect. The tone is dark and dreary. It's the story of a man who has been driven to desperation and criminal acts in an attempt to escape a mistake he has made. Unfortunately, unlike Bone, I did not find myself lost in the world of "RASL". The story starts out intriguing, but ultimately it fizzles out. The ending feels rushed, and I feel like I will forget it entirely in a matter of months. I hope Mr. Smith's next project will be more up to the standards of his amazing "Bone" story.

It also bears mentioning, this is not a book for children, unlike "Bone". There is a lot of violence and mature themes, not to mention sex and foul language. I would not recommend this for anybody under 14.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures. 25 Nov 2013
By J. Edgar Mihelic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
RASL means “Romance at the speed of light”.

That’s not shown until the end, so maybe me telling you that now is a spoiler. If that is true, I apologize. I don’t think so, because for me, that was just a throw-away line, but Smith uses it as the title of the book. I’m not sure what to make of RASL the concept, nor RASL the book.

I liked it, but that’s incredibly subjective. I read the whole thing pretty much in one sitting, so the story pulls you along.

There’s just that thing.

It’s not Bone.

I loved Bone. I wouldn’t have read this if it were not for the author’s previous work, but had I read it in a universe where Bone did not exist I might be judging it differently. Fortunately, I don’t live in that universe. I made all my friends read Bone. I don’t think I’ll do that with RASL.

And that’s a shame for Smith, because that is going to be the point of comparison for this book, until he tops it. I’m glad that this is so different in a way. It shows that Smith is a powerful creative artist who can switch genres easily, even if that switch is from fantasy to science fiction. He’s awesome, he created Bone. And RASL.

So here’s the bottom line. Read this book if you like science fiction, with a heavy dose of Tesla thrown in. There is a good melding of the actual past with the possibilities that we search for in the lab and in our imaginations. The characters are interesting and the work is nicely self-contained. If you were hoping for Bone II, this is not it.

There’s no rat creatures. Stupid, stupid, rat creatures.
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