Reading level: Young Adult/Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel/Science Fiction
Size: 128 pages
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
The only Jack Vance work I have read to date is The Last Castle, which to be honest I don’t remember all that well, so it must not have made a huge impression on me. I have Songs of the Dying Earth on my shelf to read, but have not yet read it. I guess the point I am trying to make is that I think I could have written a better review for this if I was familiar with the original short story in more depth. This graphic novel feels like a sketch of what the full story probably was.
Edwer Thissell, the new consul from Earth to the planet Sirene and is having trouble adjusting to the way of life on Sirene. On Sirene everyone wears masks and accompanies speech with a variety of muscial instruments. There is no currency but your honor, or the honor that others perceive you have. Edwer is having trouble and as a bumbling outsider is given the lowly mask of a Moon Moth. Things get more complicated as Edwer tries to solve a murder mystery; but things are confounded by the fact that everyone wears masks and no one knows who is who.
As I mentioned above I am not familiar with the original short story that this graphic novel is based on. There are some interesting concepts in here. Basically they are around the type of society Edwer ends up living in. Imagine a society with no currency except the honor that you have as perceived by others. Kind of crazy right? Crazy and interesting all at once. Then imagine that everyone in this society wears masks and speaks using a variety of musical instruments. Yep, the society just got a bit crazier. Now…imagine that some one is murdered and you have to figure everything out, having not lived in this society and having a limited understanding of what the heck these people are doing. It makes for an interesting story on a number of levels.
So I enjoyed the story it was crazy and entertaining and even made you think a little bit. I did have a couple problems with it. The whole thing is illustrated in a cartoony way with lots of pastel colors; definitely not my favorite. I guess it fit okay for the story, but the pastel light-heated colors gave the story a even more goofy feeling. At times it was hard to tell which instruments the people were playing while speaking and some of the frames were hard to follow because of this.
Also Edwer comes off as kind of whiny at points. He keeps talking about how no one told him it would be like this. I kept thinking he should get over it, stop whining, and start working to understand the things that he needed to.
Overall though I enjoyed the story. It is a somewhat comic look at a crazy society and at how an already complex problem (a murder) can become even more complex when society is so different from what we consider normal. A great read for those who love science fiction with a light tone to it. The illustration wasn’t my favorite; lots of pastel colors and sometimes hard to follow…but it was okay. If you are a Jack Vance fan or a sci-fi fan I would recommend giving it a read through.