Overlook. Nov. 2020. 992p. ISBN 9781419750694. $35. SF
DEBUT This book has, at its heart, a simple premise: scientists on Earth have detected the first extraterrestrial signal. Through a mixture of traditional narrative and mixed-media imagery, comic book artist Hughes tells the story of Jack Fenwick and other humans attempting to decode the extraterrestrial message. Even though the overall story is fairly straightforward, there are many shifts in settings and multiple subplots (including an entire novelette) to keep track of. Moreover, the technical and theoretical scientific principles introduced, and the sometimes-disruptive nature of the mixed-media elements, at times make the story difficult to follow.
VERDICT The combination of hard sf elements and Hughes’s background as a cartoonist create a vivid, expansive reading experience. This will especially interest readers who are excited by hybrid novels that blend traditional and illustrative formats.
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