Saga: Volume One
By Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reviewed by Karl Wolff
Behold the awesome that is Saga: Volume One. Written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples, the series begins with an ill-fated love affair and the birth of a child. The lovers Alana and Marko flee their war-ravaged world in order to raise their child in peace. This all sounds pretty much like de rigueur Joseph Campbell Hero With a Thousand Faces epic story arc. But what would otherwise be a standard template space opera narrative gets heaped with a dump truck full of crazy. Set amidst an interplanetary war where the fighting has been out-sourced, the universe has a bizarre appearance. Yes, there are aliens and robots, just not the aliens and robots you’d expect. Alana is a dark-skinned ex-soldier with insectoid wings, reminiscent of mythical fairies. (Her fellow inhabitants of the planet Landfall also have wings, but wings can be like bats or birds or insects.) Marko, from Landfall’s moon Wreath, has a pair of ram-like horns, but is otherwise humanoid. But one thinks of satyrs and fauns. In their desperate attempt to escape, Marko bought a map from a grease monkey. The grease monkey happens to be a human-sized monkey who speaks in a hard-boiled detective movie argot. Then there’s the robots. Human in appearance except for their pale skin color and a TV head. A TV that looks like it’s from the Sixties. The robots are part of the Robot Empire and Prince Robot IV seeks vengeance against the murder of his kinsman by Marko and Alana. There are also ghosts, a rocketship forest, and Sextillion, the sex planet. Also seeking to find the child, the Will, a taciturn badass bounty hunter, and the Stem, the Will’s ex who looks like a cross between a giant spider and an armless female. It only gets stranger and better from there. Yes, believe the hype: it is a hyper-inventive, visually gorgeous, and politically complex space opera. For sheer inventiveness, it reminds me of reading Excession by Iain Banks and the Culture. This review has been parsimonious in terms of plot, but because it is the first volume of an epic series, all I can do is recommend highly.
Out of 10/9.0
And the CCLaP Journal is out. Here’s what Jason Pettus has to say about it:
Issue #2, coming out today, features material that first appeared here at the blog last month, in September — so that includes over a dozen book reviews and rare-book overviews, interviews with Mason Johnson and Chris L. Terry, and four photographer features, including the Cat Power tour photos from band guitarist Nico Turner — plus the bonus reprinting of Mark R. Brand’s short story “Red Rocket,” which appears in his new CCLaP book Long Live Us. And as you can see in these screenshots, the optimized Kindle version is not just a reformatted version of the PDF, but an entirely new document in the MOBI format built from the ground-up (a big part of the reason why it takes so long for these issues to get finished); so visually a more boring layout, to be sure, but that nicely does all the things we Kindle owners like our ebook documents to do, like automatically reflow when we adjust the text size, let us hop directly from the table of contents to individual articles, etc. Your purchase of the Amazon or paper editions, or your voluntary donation for the PDF, are the only ways our contributors get paid; and instead of treating this as alms, I’ve worked very hard to provide a value-added experience for anyone who spends extra money, so I hope all my fellow Kindle owners will appreciate this and spend a little more for the slick, hyperlinked Amazon version. (Optimized versions for iPads coming soon; but the iBook creation software is even more complicated than the Kindle’s, and the learning curve has been steeper than I imagined.)
Like most book nerds, I grew up with a real love for traditionally laid-out magazines, a format I believe provides a kind of heft and sense of completeness that daily posts to a website page simply cannot; so it provides me great delight to present again the content from our blog in this kind of traditional way, and I hope it provides a greater understanding of all the gears we constantly have in motion around here. It’s been another overwhelmingly busy year for us around here, our sixth such year in a row, and I love now having this monthly opportunity to provide all of you an easy-to-digest round-up of it all. Here are all the direct links for issue #2, which I hope you’ll get a chance to check out soon.