Read Recently — July 2014 — Science, both real and fictional

Galaxian: volume one: the Jump by Tara Tallan

This is Tallan’s second or possibly third attempt at her black-and-white anime-esque comic Galaxian (a sub-heading tells us the comic is about “Life, Love, Hyperspace” but so far at least one of those has failed to appear). The comic is available for free on line at galaxioncomics.com, but if you like it you will want your own hardcopies for those times when the Net is down.

The basic plot of the first book is: the Terran Space Administrations (TerSA) ship known as the Galaxion has been handed over to the Interplanetary Patrol to test a new hyperspace drive. TerSA and IP supposedly cooperate but in reality they more often compete. Captain Fusella Mercier is not happy to have her ship in IP hands, even though two of her close friends are aboard, but even though Fusella herself will be aboard, command for the duration of the experiment is in the hands of IP General Scavina Nelson. Two previous ships have tried the drive; one jumped a long distance but suffered catastrophic breakdowns and had to limp back home. The other vanished completely.

We begin on the bridge of the Galaxion, preparing for the jump. After a brief flashback, the drive is activated . . . and nothing seems to happen. The Galaxion seems to be holding position exactly where she was.

Of course, that proves not to be true; the Galaxion did go somewhere. The question is, where?

At the end of the book, the ship’s Survey Contact Team is preparing to land on an unknown planet’s surface . . .

Tallan’s writing is great, not-too-obviously influenced by series such as Star Trek or Babylon 5, but showing some influence of, say, Star Blazers (particularly around the uniforms). The plot, however, seems completely original and the art is clean-lined and attractive. As Graphic Novels go, this is great (and, of course, you can preview it on the website). Highly recommended.

An Astronaut’s Guide To LIfe ON Earth by Chris Hadfield

Mostly a biography of Canada’s best-known astronaut, but there is inevitably some discussion of the science of real-world space travel. There’s also some of Hadfield’s philosophy of life (eg: don’t give up on your dreams. Also, sweat the small stuff). Well-written, entertaining and interesting if you’re at all into space exploration.

Recommended.

Showcase Presents: the Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights by divers hands

Back in the 50s and 50s (and well into the 70s as well) it was widely believed, at least by non-scientists, that a nuclear war would produce not only the downfall of civilization as we knew it but also many benevolent mutations leading to new species, such as humanoid talking rats and the like. The result was many bad books and movies, but also many good books and movies, and also a long period of DC comics continuity. Up until 1985, anyway, when in the wake of Crisis On Infinite Earths it was decided that just as the DC Universe had only one past, it could have only one future and that one had no room for a great disaster. All I can say is that at the time, Crisis seemed like a good idea.

So in this volume you get a bunch of mostly disconnected stories about the disaster (or more accurately about its aftermath) from DC’s anthology titles (mostly Weird War Tales), plus the Atomic Knights, a group of survivors who learn that a particular set of archaic armour will protect them from radiation and thus protected go on to start re-building civilization, plus the short-lived mid-70s series, Hercules Unbound in which the immortal demigod is released into the post-apocalyptic world (and eventually crosses over with the Atomic Knights. Herc Unbound also tied in the classic Jack Kirby series, Kamandi: the last boy on Earth). You also get the post-Crisis story that ruined it all and reintegrated the Atomic Knights into the post-Crisis DCU.

So what you get is a fair bit of decent entertainment (if you can put aside the fact that 90 percent of the world died to bring it to you), sadly presented in black and white rather than its original four-colour glory, and one really sucky story at the end. Mildly recommended for DC Comics historians, classic comics fans in general, and those who really want to see the world burn.

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