Posts Tagged science fiction

Review: Escape from Terra

Those of my readers who are majoring in English (or similar programs) may have noticed an unintended side-effect from all that literary analysis: you start to watch movies for their plot. This becomes exasperating when you complain about a film, only to be shouted down that it was “pretty” or “awesome” or “technologically astounding,” as though the dialogue and actions were just filler text* between explosions. Implausible plots and lackluster half-dimensional characters are happily disregarded as long as the CG critters have enough supplemental material explaining how they’re biologically possible.

This is where I would normally go on to provide a link to the comic Escape from Terra, a science-fiction comic and political screed resulting from the collaborative efforts of Sandy Sandfort, Scott Bleser, and LEE OAKS** . . . and then just as I was getting ready to review it, the plot took a turn for the lesbian erotica. I don’t consider myself any sort of moral guardian or gatekeeper or anything like that***, but I can imagine the outrage from people I know if I were to link to stuff like that.

So suffice it that Escape from Terra takes place in the late 21st century, when space has been partially colonized and humanity is actively mining the asteroid belt for useful minerals and organics. Earth has unified into a single socialist government that preaches an exaggerated form of political correctness, which the people of the other planets want nothing to do with. The protagonist, Guy Caillard (pronounced “ghee,” as in French), is a United World agent sent to the asteroid Ceres in order to bring the residents under the same tax regulations as Earth. Once he gets a taste of libertarianism****, however, he promptly switches sides and becomes an accountant for the Cerereans.

The science-fiction technology is indeed fascinating, and the art is done decently well. That is to say, the spaceships and other artifacts look feasible, and characters are realistically proportioned, other than their mouths often getting too large*****. Unfortunately, the plot feels a bit like it was jammed in around technical explanations and explanations of why non-aggressive anarchy is the best political system. And this brings an interesting thought to mind:

Those of you who say that good visuals and intriguing creature/technology concepts excuse terrible characterization and a plot that mostly stands in for the writer’s political message******, look up Escape from Terra and see if you can make it all the way through. I won’t blame you if you can’t.

Comic Rating: Two hockey pucks.

* Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
** Mr. Oaks provides his name in all caps on the EFT site. I presume he also affects a deeper, more dramatic voice whilst saying it.
*** This is an outright lie.
**** The fact that the buxom Fiorella Stellina also converts to libertarianism should not be discounted.
***** Then again, the comic was designed as a political soapbox. Perhaps big mouths are simply part and parcel.
****** Yeah, Avatar failed to impress me, if I haven’t made it a bit too obvious.

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Review: Inhuman

A mere two reviews ago, I spent a little time discussing the philosophy of transhumanism and the dilemma it presents: would the casting off of human frailty, through the use of technology, be worth the loss of the strange sense of beauty that comes from this frailty? This, however, brings up another question entirely: what does it mean to be human in the first place? Is it guided more by the shape of the body, or by the shape of the soul?

This is one of the issues that haunt the characters of Inhuman, a science fiction comic by “Icarus”*. And trust me, the characters have plenty to haunt them. There’s Soshika Lypha (or Lyika), whose parents met a gruesome end before the comic even started. There’s Ashido Tsukiyo (or Ash), who lost his siblings in a terrorist attack by his own business partner and medic. There’s Grey, who is plagued by mental illness, memories of past atrocities, and ceaseless Alice in Wonderland references.

And then there’s Icarus himself, who is tormented by a misaimed fandom. Much of the commentary under his comics (when he’s not offering excuses for why his artwork isn’t even better than it already is) rails against the people who misinterpret Lyika’s explicit anti-human racism—which the other characters occasionally condemn—as something honorable that they completely agree with.**

Icarus is also left with the difficulty of explaining that his comic, in spite of rough appearances, is not a furry comic. Apparently sick of people making this mistake on a regular basis, he’s attached a page of explanation to the commentary on the first comic, stating that his comic is meant as a rather violent commentary on how humanity is more than a matter of mere species. The fact that many of the characters have wings, big ears, tails, or fluffy fur is purely incidental.***

I’ll admit that this comic is difficult to read. Some of the violent scenes had my stomach in a clench, many pages use incoherency to reveal subtle details about characters, and while Icarus’ artwork improves greatly over the span of several years, he could still stand to brush up on the spelling of a few common words.**** I admire his willingness to take on such complex subject matter and put together such an intricate plot, but the details get in the way.

Comic Rating: Five limbs, on average, per character.

* It’s either that or “Sebastian T. Awesome.” Somehow “Icarus” seems like the lesser of two evils.
** The difficulty with hating one’s own species is that as long as you continue to breathe, eat processed food, and post on the Internet, you remain part of the problem.
*** Also incidental is Icarus’ link to his gallery on FurAffinity, where he also buys ad space. I can understand a modestly cynical viewpoint in which pageviews are pageviews at any cost, but . . . if you don’t want to be called a prostitute, don’t put on the bustier and high-heeled boots.
**** A reminder for all of my readers: the past tense of “to lead” is spelled L-E-D. The word spelled L-E-A-D and pronounced “lehd” is not a verb. It is a toxic metal.

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