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Once Upon a Time Machine Paperback – October 23, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A panoply of creators retells fairy tales, folktales, and stories from classic literature, all with a sci-fi twist. Every tale, from John Henry in a space-pilot showdown to the Billy Goats Gruff told as a girl’s journey through the subterranean sewer beneath a futuristic metropolis to The Three Musketeers with Nigerian swordsmen fighting samurai robots, takes a familiar plot and casts it into an unfamiliar future. While the whole product is a mixed bag, with a few standouts like poignant re-imaginings of Pinocchio and the Puppet Show Man, a strong theme emerges in the aggregate—namely, how humanity interacts with technology, how we give it life, and what it does to our lives. With a few exceptions (including Jill Thompson, who provides a single-image, futuristic take on Santa Claus), these are not big-name creators, and, while the tone ranges from humor to action to heartfelt drama, manga is a fair-sized influence in style and content. With a large array of stories, though, this will provide hours of opportunity for dipping into the future. --Jesse Karp

Review

"It's a giant book stuffed to bursting with great stories told with truly unique characters, based on classic fables. Every piece presented here is a quality piece of work and will provide hours of whimsical, light hearted reading." -Talking Comics

"It's a volume that adults and children will greatly enjoy, with clever, insightful, and witty tales abounding on every page...Highly recommended." -SFRevu

"You may not be completely sold on one story, but you turn the page and there is one that completely blows you away. No matter your tastes, there's something for you in this. I cannot recommend this highly enough and give it a 5/5 because that is as high as it goes." -Comic Book Therapy

"Time Machine examines knotty, dark issues -- death, loss, alienation -- but, as with the original stories, there are lessons to be learned. With its wealth of humor, playfulness and gorgeous illustration, it's completely kid-safe, but grandma will surely get a kick out of it, too." -Philadelphia City Paper

"This is a gorgeous, GORGEOUS presentation. Clocking in at over 400 pages, this book is the type of thing I absolutely adore; beautifully crafted genre stories that take full advantage of the medium of comics." -CHUD.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Originals (October 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616550406
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616550400
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.8 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Disclaimer: Copy recieved via Netgalley.

Once Upon a Time Machine is what all good retellings of beloved tales should be. The basic premise is a series of tales transported to Sci-Fi settings that, in part, ensure employment of a comics department in a large corporation. Perhaps a comment on today's publishing world? If so, it seems to be an accurate one.

And you can believe it.

The various stories used include American folklore such as John Henry, Aesop, Asian tales such as "The Peach Pit Boy", European fairy tales such as "Billy Goats Gruff" and classic literature such as the works of Dumas. It works. It works brilliantly and is not a copy of Fables.
In short, the only thing setting this collection of retellings from those short stories collections edited by Datlow and Windling is the medium used.
Each story is retold using a different style, and between the stories is artwork depicting scenes from other tales. While the settings are in the future, they range from spaceships to bio-domes and a future Nigeria. If you are a parent or a librarian looking for something depicting more than just white men, this collection more than fulfills that demand.

The collection starts very strong with a retelling of the American legend of John Henry. John Henry is a folk hero who does not get the attention he deserves, at least currently, and it is a joy to see him in a beautiful and powerful retelling. The framing device used in the tale works perfectly, and this is one of those comic stories that transcend comics. The power and pathos of the John Henry story is more than equaled by tales such as "Pinocchio or the Stars are Not Wanted Now", "The Five Chinese Brothers", and "The Last Leaf", a retelling of an O. Henry story .
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Format: Paperback
ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE met and exceeded my expectations. The book looks great, the content is fresh, and most of all everyone loves (and grew up with) fairy tales. This collection should be in every library -- personal and public. Congratulations to the editors Andrew Carl and Chris Stevens and to all of the contributors. Watch the great trailer and you'll be sold.... [...] Now go order it!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The art in this book is amazing. One of my favorite pages was done by Dave Proch, the detail is just unreal. I truly believe he is one to look out for and this book will become a modern classic.
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Format: Paperback
The blurb promised a collection of 24 tales twisting and playing with beloved fairy tales. However I did not realize that it would actually be retellings of familiar stories. I just thought they would be fantastical and fairy-tale-esque. But no, I recognized most of the stories, which allowed me to seat back and enjoy the beautiful drawings and the science-fiction twists placed on most of them.

I'm not going to cover every story as that would take a really long time but I do have four that really worked for me, style of art combining with the story to resonate deeply.

First up would be "Pinocchio or The Stars Are Not Wanted Now" written by Jason Rodriguez , where an inventor makes his creation who struggles with the dual competing directives of being honest and being human. I wasn't entirely sure how this one was going to turn out but it was a bittersweet yet appropriate resolution to me.

Next would be "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", based on that great Kipling story and written by Mike Exner III. I was already a fan and immediately perked up when I saw the title. I also really loved the artwork for this one-I have no idea how to describe it but it fits with my preferences.

Next is "The Five Chinese Brothers" from Justin Hughes, another familiar story that similarly to the Pinocchio one was bittersweet. I believe I am familiar with the story it is based on although I cannot remember what it is called. This story also has an inventor father and his mechanical sons in addition to one flesh and blood one, utilizing the science-fiction aspect well.

The last one I want to mention is "Hansel and Gretel or Bombus and Vespula" by Josh O'Neill. Unfortunately I can't tell you my favorite part of this story as it is the twist within-definitely worth seeking out!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The re-imagining and re-telling of classic folk and fairytales.

Who could ask for anything more?

A lot of imagination and time went into these.

I saw on a torrenting site where someone affiliated with making this posted a comment basically saying "Go ahead and download this, but if you like it please buy it!"...

I downloaded it. Loved it. Purchased it on Amazon for $11 and I can honestly say that I'd readily pay 3 times that for this collection.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. :D
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just picked up a copy and I'm excited to share this with my friends & family - fresh twist on some classic stories, and the artwork is incredible! Kids & adults will appreciate the beautiful illustration and a new take on some old fairy tales. Highly recommend.
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By Auggie on February 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Without giving too much away, as this great title doesn't actually release until later this year, I want to tell you what a fun read this was! I was skeptical at first when I realized that it was a comic book. Not that I dislike comics. I used to read them all the time when I was younger, I just wasn't in the mood for one and wasn't sure how they were going to pull that one off...

But they did! I zoomed through the 400+ pages of AMAZING illustrations and FANTASTIC fable twists. It took a creative bunch of people to come up with such different perspectives on such old fables.

I can't tell you how impressed I was with the presentation of these stories. Just as the synopsis stated this comic is for both young and old. There is nothing particularly disturbing drawn so parents should have no problem with youngins picking it up, but there's enough meat in the story that older readers will find enjoyment just as readily.

Every fable rewritten is set to take place in the future. Very futuristic settings, very tremendously imaginative landscapes and backgrounds for the stories that most of us already know by heart. It gives you an idea of how strong a fable/legend is, how long lasting, how powerful it is even in its age. These are stories that are known throughout the world and ones that will probably not soon be forgotten. "Once Upon a Time Machine" seems to be a guesstimate of just how strong and timeless these stories really are.

I have to tell you my favorite story and my favorite depiction. My favorite story in the bunch was "Rikki Tikki Tavi" (I watched that movie over and over and over again as a little girl) and my favorite depiction was "Little Red Riding Hood.
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