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Graphic Classics Volume 17: Science Fiction Classics
Edited by Tom Pomplun
Cover Artist: Front Cover: Micah Farritor: Back Cover: George Sellas.
Review by Gayle Surrette
Eureka Productions Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780978791971
Date: 15 June 2009 List Price $17.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Once again, Graphic Classics has put together an exciting collection of classic stories adapted to a graphic format -- this time it's science fiction classics. Leading off with H.G. Wells War of the Worlds, adapted by Rich Rainey and illustrated by Micah Farritor. Other stories in this volume are: "In a Thousand Years" by Hans Christian Andersen, adapted and illustrated by Hunt Emerson; "In the Year 2889" by Jules Verne, adapted by Tom Pomplun, illustrated by Johnny Ryan, color by Kevin Atkinson; "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley G. Weinbaum, adapted by Ben Avery, Illustrated by George Sellas; "The Disintegration Machine" by Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by Rod Lott, illustrated by Roger Langridge; "The Bureau d'Echange de Maux" by Lord Dunsany, adapted by Antonella Caputo; and "The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster, adapted by Tom Pomplun, illustrated by Ellen L. Lindner.

I read War of the Worlds so many years ago, and have seen so many adaptations of the story for the screen since, that it's difficult to remember that most of the screen versions have little in common with the book other than the invasion of Earth by Martians. Rich Rainey's adaptation goes back to the original source material and paired with the realistic drawings of Micah Farritor (who did the cover), it give the reader an appreciation for the original story by H.G. Wells. Told from the point of view of a scientist who had been studying Mars and who was an eyewitness to the first landing and the rise of the Martians and their reign of terror until they were defeated, not by military might but by our germs. The art and words go so well together it is easy to get pulled in and forget you are reading rather than watching the story unfold.

The frontspiece is a one page short based on "In A Thousand Years by Hans Christian Anderson, adapted and illustrated by Hunt Emerson. It tells how, in a thousand years, life will be so different that the people in the Americas will come to visit a stagnant and moribund Europe, on vacation to visit the sites of historic importance. The drawings are colorful with a bit of whimsy -- the transportations for this adventure reminded me greatly of Howl's moving castle.

"In The Year 2889: A Vision of the Future" by Jules Verne, adapted by Tom Pomplun and illustrated by Johnny Ryan, colors by Kevin Atkinson gives us another vision of the future. It only goes to show that science fiction is not necessarily a predictor of the future. The story follows George Washington Smith, a newspaper magnate, as he goes about his daily routine. The artwork reminded me very much of the Jetsons (TV show, I haven't seen the movie) and Futurama. A stylized future that while in some cases was very futuristic, in others it was very passť.

Stanley Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey" was one I hadn't read before. Adapted by Ben Avery and illustrated by George Sellas this is the story of a member of a Martian Exploratory Team who crash landed on the surface and then had a few adventurous encounters with Martian lifeforms before being rescued. Once again the illustrations and story work well together to get the reader to enter the story and forget the page. Illustrations are minimalistic and lushly colored in shades of red, orange, yellows, and tans.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Disintegration Machine" is typical Professor Challenger fare -- who could miss his ego and self-centeredness in this tale of scientific investigation as Challenger checks out the legitimacy of a disintegration machine for Malone's publisher. Adapted by Rod Lott and illustrated by Roger Langridge. The story is told in a straight forward manner but Langridge manages to illustrate with a bit of humor coming through in the drawings and giving us all the hints and clues we need to what Challenger is about to do and to the characters of the piece -- Challenger is large and brutish and the inventor is definitely the evil-overlord type.

"The Bureau of d'Exchange de Maux" by Lord Dunsany is adapted by Antonella Caputo and illustrated by Brad Teare. The illustrations on this adaptation are so moody and textured that they just pull you right into this strange story of a shop where you can trade your evil or misfortune or fear for someone else's. No one ever returns to the shop for a second exchange and the narrator wonders why until he exchanges his misfortune for anothers.

E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" adapted by Tom Pomplun and illustrated by Ellen L. Lindner. This is the story of a world and its people who have embraced the machines and allowed them to take care of all their needs. I was very much reminded of the people on the spaceship in WALL-E who never left their seats as their chairs took care of them and they never interacted with other people except through their screens and chairs. The illustrations are colorful and perfect for a Forster story. A woman is asked by her son to visit him in his home. She feels she must visit him -- it's a duty she performs with great reluctance only to find that he has done something against all custom and society. Returning home she puts it out of her mind until his predictions about the machines appear to be coming true.

As usual as the end of the book there are short biographies of all the authors, the people who adapted the stories, and the artists. If you haven't read any of the previous Graphic Classics, please give this one a try. The artwork is always varied and the stories well worth reading. You can always follow up by reading the original source material -- I know that these review copies usually get me to go out and look up authors that often don't get as much attention as they should.

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