I have studied just enough Gnosticism, early Church history, and Mathematics1 to have a keen appreciation of what Scott D. Finch is doing in A Little World Made Cunningly. This is a modern re-imagining of a Gnostic creation myth in the form of a graphic novel. In this multi-layered creation, the various forms of Demiurge get lost in their creations and sometimes blunder into each other’s worlds.
Various Church Fathers, their names carefully disguised in a nearly unbreakable cipher (or should I call it a “rehpic”?) try to make some sense out of all this mess and above all, keep order. The paraclete is a crow (“Crow has brought the message/To the children of the Sun.”2) There are enough layers here to keep you busy for several readings.
The artwork slides between simple line art and rather elegant shaded panels in a way that “makes sense at the time.” The overall effect is engaging and dreamlike, with several panels toward the end that are trippy mandalas, right where such a thing is needed. My only problem is that the lettering is uneven and sometimes small, especially for my old eyes.
The book itself is very nicely produced. It feels like it will hold up long enough to read it almost enough to find all of its nice puzzles.
[Complimentary review copy from the author gratefully acknowledged, opinions my own, your mileage may vary, etc.]
1. There are two interesting topological manifolds pictured, plus the structure of the layered worlds tastes a lot like algebraic topology to one who has been exposed to that. You don’t need a degree in finite Mathematics to appreciate this; reading Fantasia Mathematica, as I did repeatedly during secondary school, would suffice.
2. Robbie Robertson, “Ghost Dance.”