I’ve been cafe hoping with Boris. We’re trying to put in an eight hour writing day, without wearing out our welcome anywhere. He’s a perfect companion, because he’s everything I’m not: polite, ernest, unassuming, delicate and cute as a hairless, metal puppy.
Book Review: Robot Of Leisure, Vol One. Boris and The Open House, by Katharine Miller.
by Michael Scott
Boris is a limited capacity service robot:
*20 alcoholic beverage recipes
*7 classic dance moves
*10 popular popular party games”
and is presumably designed to derive perfect satisfaction, in the performance of these simple tasks. In an elegant marriage of form and content, Katharine Miller has created a book as simple, careful and quite as its tittle character. Boris and The Open House will neither capture, nor command your attention, but it certainly deserves it.
The book’s gentle, pastel colour pallet and art-deco style illustration does not scream out to the senses. Boris, ever the faithful servant, waits for you to address him. The reader who comes upon the book with an open heart, moving softly, as Boris moves, will reap much reward, from both the sweet, simple story and its elegant presentation.
It’s fun to watch Boris approach each of the days tasks, to see him negotiate small obstacles, and to observe his simple pleasure at each stage of completion. Some jobs prove more troublesome than others, but they never become too cartoony. At first, Miller seems as single-minded as her robot. She tells us about the joy of easy tasks easily accomplished, but eventually begins to wonder about a different kind of joy: a dangerous, and ecstatic freedom, derived from real, and ultimate failure.
What happens when even the most attainable of goals, the most basic of tasks, proves impossible? What if ones every choice had been based on a fundamental, and profound misunderstanding?
These are big questions for a little robot. Ones Boris only begins to address in this, the first of a planned six volumes.
Miller’s story telling is almost wholly visual. Boris, being the only character, never needs to speak. What text we do see — cleverly representative of Boris’ interaction with his own operating system — is strictly peripheral, amounting to little more than contextual detail or chapter heading.
Her cartooning style oozes with charm. Her chunky and sympathetically emotive tittle character is imposed upon painfully intricate, geometrical backgrounds. It is interesting to see the things of man rendered digitally, while the robotic character is hand drawn allowing for a measure of human error.
My chief complaint is a lack of content. The hundred page book had far too much negative space. The story would have easily fit into a volume half this size, saving money for both the publisher and consumer. I greatly admire the stylistic simplicity, and do not favour unnecessary padding, but there must be some way that Miller could have added more story without damaging her pathos.
I like Boris more than enough to read a hundred pages of him.
Buy Boris and the Open House and Vol. 2 Boris Makes a Friend here: http://www.robotofleisure.com