Social Fiction

New York Review Comics. Jul. 2023. 200p. tr. from French by Geoffrey Brock. ISBN 9781681377407. pap. $24.95. SF
The perils of totalitarianism take center stage in this collection of grimly humorous science-fiction novellas from Montellier, a celebrated contributor to the legendary French comics anthology Métal Hurlant in the 1970s. A geneticist and a passionate musician fall in love, get married, and embark upon a dehumanizing quest to obtain permission from the state to conceive a child in Wonder City. In Shelter, what may well be the last 823 adults and children alive on Earth struggle to create a utopian society inside a vast underground shopping mall in the aftermath of a devastating nuclear strike. The kaleidoscopic 1996 spotlights various scenes set throughout a grim futuristic world where women are hunted for sport, a smiling spokesperson informs a group of stone-faced factory workers they’ve been rendered redundant before urging them to line up outside a chamber where they’ll be vaporized, and a Puerto Rican boxer suffers from systemic racism long after he’s dead.
VERDICT Montellier emerges as a true visionary of the graphic-novel medium and the science-fiction genre in these captivating tales of human beings struggling to retain their dignity under repressive regimes.
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