Tag Archives: Space

The Moon Moth

By Jack Vance

Adapted by Humayoun Ibrahim

Published by First Second

Copyright © 2012

What can I say about Jack Vance? Not a thing. The forward to this graphic novel by Carlo Rotella entitled “The Genre Artist” (originally published in Time magazine in 2009) extols the virtues of a Jack Vance story because of his way of creating an occasion and opulent speech in what some might consider just lowly genre fiction. I could not attest to any of this having never read a Jack Vance novel. Then out of the blue comes “The Moon Moth” a graphic novel adaptation “Based on the Classic Short Story,” and I begin to believe that their might be something to the praise heaped upon him.

In this story, Edwer Thissell has been assigned to be the new consular representative to the planet Sirene. Sirene is a place where everyone wears masks and everyone converses by singing with the accompaniment of various instruments. Every mask and every instrument used signify something about the user’s status in relation to others and it is with status, also known as Strakh that one gets what they need. Thissell threw himself into studying and preparation for his new post, but such endeavors did not truly prepare him for the odd customs and quick, harsh justice for missteps in custom. In addition to having to awkwardly stumble through the customs of this new planet he has received orders to apprehend an assassin who has made his way back to Sirene. This man is an Out-Worlder like Thissell, but in a world of masks he is going to be hard to find.

Based on the story premise and the dialogue I certainly now believe that Jack Vance is an unheralded master of words that transcend the sci-fi and mystery genre in which he writes. Just the idea of such a planet with such customs and the dialogue he creates for it speaks to a very imaginative and exacting mind.

What I still cannot speak to is Vance’s ability to set a scene. In this adaptation I am only getting Ibrahim’s take on Vance’s world. In that I am quite disappointed. What this story really requires in a graphic novel is greater detail and a more refined color palette. Just one example of why I say that is found on page 19 and 20. Thissell is preparing for life on Sirene and the computer is telling him about the planets ways; it educates him of their occupation with intricacy; their intricate craftsmanship, symbolism, language, and interpersonal relationships. On page 19 it refers to the intricately carved panels of the houseboats and the intricate symbolism of the masks they wear. These two items are visual in nature and therefore, visually, should be intricately rendered; however I did not find this to be the case. I appreciate simplicity in some graphic novels, but this story begged for more detail.

If nothing else, this graphic novel adaptation has moved me to want to read the original short story. And, maybe I missed it, but why hasn’t anyone made this into a movie?


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Filed under Adaptations, Fantasy, Graphic Novels/Comic Strips, Science Fiction, Strong Sense of Place

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

2007 Puffin Edition Shown

Published by Alfred A. Knopf

Copyright © 1972


“Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” picks up where “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” left of, but if “’Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ is Dahl at his best…” then “Charlie and the great Glass Elevator is Dahl at his worst. However, children will still love the silliness of it all.


Charlie, Grandpa Joe, and Willy Wonka have picked pushed the remainder of the Bucket clan into the great glass elevator in order to take them back to the factory which Charlie will now help Mr. Wonka run. However, things go terribly wrong and instead of going back to the Factory they end up in space and under siege by the Vermicious Knids. When they finally make it back to the Chocolate Factory Grandpa George, Grandma Georgina, and Grandma Josephine all get a taste of Wonka-Vite and Vita-Wonk with (nearly) dire consequences.


The best way to describe “…the Great Glass Elevator” is clumsy and inane. The Big differences between  “Chocolate Factory” and “…Glass Elevator” is that  former is silly with a point and congruent within itself, and the latter is pointlessly silly and seems full of discrepancies. In “…Chocolate Factory” there was a clearly developed plot and moral in amongst all that silliness, but in “…Glass Elevator” I have no idea why it went the way it did. And even though this is supposed to be a sequel, I could be wrong but there seems to be a discrepancy in the age of the grandparents. In addition the story often doesn’t seem to jive with itself. Of course there is always the giant possibility that I was so utterly bored with this book that I didn’t catch everything.


Needless to say, young children, for whom this book was intended, will probably enjoy the silly imagination of this story, but adults like me probably won’t like it so much. I think I probably wanted more chocolate factory and less space nonsense.

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Filed under Adventure, Families, Fantasy, Junior Fiction, Science Fiction

The Glass Ark

The Glass Ark: The Story of Biosphere 2

By Linnea Gentry & Karen Liptak

Published by Viking

Copyright © 1991

Biosphere 2 saw its beginning in the mid to late 80’s in a project that was meant to mimic the way the earth sustains life. The end game for this was to learn how to build and operate life sustaining bubbles that could be built in space or on other planets. In the process of this experiment useful research was done that helped us better understand Biosphere 1, or Earth as we know it.

The Glass Ark presents a youth friendly explanation of this monumental experiment. If you would like to know more about the Biosphere 2 facility today check out this site – http://www.b2science.org/about/history

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Filed under Environment/Ecology, Science, Young Adult Non-Fiction