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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Surrogates. Robert Venditti (Writer), Brett Weldele (Art & Letters). Top Shelf Productions. (2008)

A superb science fiction story that is thoughtful, moving and just a little worrying. The central idea in the story is brilliant, robots with a direct connection to the brain of a controller allow the controller to sit inside while the surrogate conducts the external life of the controller. The controller can experience a life without having to live it. The possibilities for good and for ill are vividly explored in the book, wrapped up in an exciting and very well constructed narrative. Someone is attacking surrogates, they appear to be getting ready to launch a massive attack which would disable all the surrogates in the city. Detectives Harvey Greer and Pete Ford are trying to resolve the case and catch the techno-terrorist before the plan is realised. The story unfolds with considerable skill as the shape of a society that has come to depend on surrogates is revealed and the pressures that come with are explored.
The idea is so compelling that there was a possibility that it would overwhelm the story, the creation of a story would come second to the exploration of the idea and its implications.Robert Venditti has displayed considerable discipline and restraint in ensuring that the story brings the idea to life and that the actions of the cast reveal the idea and it terrifying implications. Harvey Greer is a great character, sympathetic and tough with a sad and truthful core to him. One of the really nice things about the book is that all the cast get a fair outing, they are given the chance to express themselves , this really draws you into the book and gives it weight and substance.
The art is stunning, Brett Weldele creates very expressive and dynamic drawings and layers colours and photographs on them to achieve an astonishing variety of panel shapes and effects. The art is never too loud, drawing attention to itself at the expense of the story, it creates a striking and distinct context wholly suitable for the book. This is first rate science fiction, speculative, bold, very intimate and human, just brilliant.

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