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Calculus Affair: for or against?

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Karaboudjan
Member
#1 · Posted: 17 Apr 2005 20:18 · Edited by: Moderator
This is what Jasper Fforde (author of the Thursday Next series, which I also love), has to say about it:

"The Calculus Affair" by Hergé (Georges Remi): I'm a longtime Tintin fan, and he remains a big inspiration for storytelling. "The Calculus Affair" is one of the later books and probably the best. By this time Hergé's illustrations, characterization, and humor was never better. The story about secret inventions and kidnappings by foreign powers just snaps along at a breakneck speed. Tank, helicopter, and car chases – this book is like a movie on paper! Special Mention: The locations drawn in the book are for real. You can visit them.


He shares my esteem for this, the finest and most painstakingly researched of adventures.
But so many authorities blast it for being shoe-horned into the Tintinverse, and being unconvincing, commenting that a) Cuthbert would never agree to work on such a deadly device and b) Syldavia (being the base of the Moon project, after all) wouldn't stoop to kidnap him or maim Tintin.

What do you think?
tintinuk
Moderator Emeritus
#2 · Posted: 17 Apr 2005 21:04
In my opinion, it's the finest of the Tintin books. It's the most accurate, even down to the hotel details and the road to Nyon. In answer to those questions :

a) Cuthbert would never agree to work on such a deadly device

I suppose it's in the interest of science, not actually to do with it being 'deadly'. A classic example of this kind of thing would be Werner Von Braun, althought he is a bit different !

b) Syldavia (being the base of the Moon project, after all) wouldn't stoop to kidnap him or maim Tintin

Foreign policy could have changed very quickly, I suppose that would explain it ! ;o)
jockosjungle
Member
#3 · Posted: 17 Apr 2005 22:02
I can think of plenty of practical uses for Calculus' invention, building demoliton, etc. and many of his inventions could have deadly consequences - the moon rocket for example could easily be exploited in missiles and nuclear weapons. Even the government paid him for the patent on his submarine.

Agree with tintinuk as well on this that the foreign policy could change very quickly, especially if they sided with the Soviet Union

Rik
Jorgen221
Member
#4 · Posted: 18 Apr 2005 04:38
I like the volume very much. Some of my favorite scenes are in Borduria, where the moustache of thier leader Kurvi-Tasch is used as a design on buildings and even cars. That was an imaginative idea on Herge's part.
Karaboudjan
Member
#5 · Posted: 18 Apr 2005 19:21
... although Hergé called him Plekszy-Gladz in the original French.
BlackIsland
Member
#6 · Posted: 24 Apr 2005 02:39
The best one in my opinion as it was a golden age of Tintin. The artwork and dialogue and speed of action were great during this adventure. It has become my favorite over the last few years.
jock123
Moderator
#7 · Posted: 24 Apr 2005 18:45
Karaboudjan
But so many authorities blast it for being shoe-horned into the Tintinverse
I’m not really aware of this body of criticism; I was always under the impression that it was fairly highly regarded. Do you have any examples of the negative press it has had?
Charles
Member
#8 · Posted: 3 May 2005 03:42
Agree with tintinuk as well on this that the foreign policy could change very quickly, especially if they sided with the Soviet Union

But the point of Herge's elaborate depiction of Borduria is to show the antithesis between Communist East/Free West, so I don't think this is true. Yes, Syldavia did kidnap Calculus, but in the context of the Cold War (and given Syldavia's own precarious geographic and political position) it doesn't strike me as unusual that their covert forces would quite vehemently carry out any steps necessary for the security of their country.
snafu
Member
#9 · Posted: 3 May 2005 18:10
Strange. I didn't know that countries in the Cold War were involved in kidnapping (North Korea and the abducted Japanese citizens don't count because Pyongyang was not really involved with Soviet activities). It is true that there was a lot of espionage involved in both sides.

Still, the fact that kidnapping occurred is relatively a minor detail in Herge's message about the realities of a Cold War-era order. It was important in that the characters had a way to become involved in Herge's statement. Otherwise, there would have been no other way to portray the Cold War-era rivalries in the Tintin books.

Anyway, it is interesting to note that there aren't too many references to nuclear weapons in the Tintin stories (except when Nestor or Captain Haddock in "The Castafiore Emerald" makes all those exclamation points). A sound device was a really good stand-in for something that was both beneficial (to a fairly large extent, nuclear power is actually cleaner than other energy sources and is safer than anything else, except in the rare case of an accident), yet at the same time so destructive. This forum really makes me think!
Karaboudjan
Member
#10 · Posted: 8 May 2005 13:56
I’m not really aware of this body of criticism; I was always under the impression that it was fairly highly regarded. Do you have any examples of the negative press it has had?

The smaller Guide by Leclerc and Leclerc is extremely harsh, referring to it as an unconvincing faux thriller. I've read other articles criticising it, but can't remember their authors off the top of my head. Their reasons for disliking the adventure are pretty much the ones I provided in my first post.

Personally I love it. Even if it does introduce Jolyon Wagg (ugh).

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