Eden II

Fantagraphics. Aug. 2023. 452p. ISBN 9781683967583. pap. $39.99. SF
Wroten, author of the 2019 Lambda Literary Award winner for Best LGBTQ Graphic Novel Cannonball, returns with a work of speculative fiction about searching for meaning in a world where the line between fiction and reality is increasingly blurred. The story opens with a vignette about a character dubbed 53, who works on an assembly line in a factory churning out “high-quality primitive shapes.” Think great big squares and rectangles. Who knows what the things are used for—53’s overprivileged, dangerously unpredictable supervisor only cares that they come out right and on time. The quest of 53 to transcend his absurdly unfulfilling existence finds him interacting with an intricately interconnected ensemble, many of whom go on to serve as point-of-view characters at various points in this kaleidoscopic epic. All of their stories, however, somehow connect back to that of 53’s housemate, Ellis Flowers, and what happens when his design for an immersive virtual reality game is stolen by a major corporation that wants to control how everyone perceives everything, all the time.
VERDICT An ambitious, skillfully crafted satire of art, philosophy, and modern ennui.
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