Reviewer Steve Moore: Steve is a full-time writer and ex-scientist. Besides his many technical publications, he has written six sci-fi thrillers (one a novel for young adults), many short stories, and frequent comments on writing and the digital revolution in publishing. His interests also include physics, mathematics, genetics, robotics, forensics, and scientific ethics. Follow Here for his WEBSITE.
Author: Beverly Garside
How delicious satire is when it’s well done! Irish have it in their DNA—just look at Shaw, Wilde, Swift, and others who have skewered the British elites—so I love satire even though I can’t write it well. Political satire, of course, is generally hated by the satirized and loved by those who agree with it. In this book, you’ll find political satire that is hilarious in its best moments and at least enjoyable in its worst, unless you’re a Libertarian. If you fall into that cult that worships in Ayn Rand’s church, this book is probably not for you.
I’ve never reviewed a graphic novel before, but this one was so intriguing I couldn’t resist. I came to the conclusion I might be doing something like this now if I’d had any success making my own comic books as I learned to read and not to draw between ages three and four. My art was bad and what I put in those balloons was probably only slightly better. Fine satire is always embedded in an interesting story, and Ms. Garside puts many entertaining things in those balloons and figure captions to make one. Duimstra, the artist, has drawn well too, although I can only judge it with an amateur’s eyes. I like what I read and see.
The setting: The Randian Republic of Atlantis (Atlas more than shrugs here, but Atlantis doesn’t fall into the sea), comprised of the old states of Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana; surrounded by the United Socialist States of America (USSA), comprised of all other old states including Florida, but not including the old Southern states making up the Unified States of New Jerusalem. The latter plays no role in the story, but, for our Canadian friends, we have Montreal and Quebec, once more part of France, playing a minor role as they team up with Japan against the Randian Republic. For the latter, the real enemy is the USSA, of course. The year is 2098.
The protagonists: Sara, a citizen of Atlantis and new member of a company’s security group which monitors what goes on in the USSA (companies run the Randian Republic, but you already knew that, right?); and Warren, one of her co-workers. Sara’s brother and parents play minor roles.
The story: Sara discovers that real people around her don’t behave like her heroes in Rand’s novels. She finds out that the egotistical “I,” or even changing “we” to “I and you,” isn’t what’s important in life. This story is surprisingly well developed for this media—the length helps, I suppose.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few satirical bonbons. Atlantis’ main university is John Galt U., of course (presumably they teach their students to be better public speakers than Mr. Galt). Ms. Garside knows some Spanish, because she names one TV reporter Calvo Mentira (I would have used Calvado Mentiroso, a better translation of “Baldfaced Liar,” but that’s nitpicking). The most serious crime in the Randian Republic is BOC, Breach of Contract. You get the idea.
An ancillary theme is how history is rewritten by people with political agendas. My one problem with this poke at current American culture is Sara’s discovery of “historical truth” in her brother’s book of the 1945 siege of Berlin from the Nazi viewpoint. The Nazis were fascists, not socialists, in spite of the name. In fact, true socialists and Marxists were among the groups, notably including the Jews, who were persecuted and murdered by the Third Reich monsters. Maybe the lesson here should be that extreme socialism (World War II fascism, for example) and extreme, uncontrolled capitalism (a completely Libertarian society) are just two sides of the same old coin, and we should move beyond the ideologies that take us to those dark places.
In summary, with the exception of the caveats above, most people will have fun with this book if they’re into this art form and satire. I’m a convert.