Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson
Dodson’s story is a fantasy set in a fictional past and future North America, covering the lives of two families who seem to be connected. The fictional worlds are a complex mix of historical and totally imagination, so much that it takes a lot of work to keep track of it all. Much of the story is a mystery of what connects these two sets of people, separated by centuries, but perhaps related by blood and fate.
These two fantasies are interleaved in a complex narrative which presents many parallels and juxtapositions. It is told primarily through archival materials including letters, notes, and transcripts. These are lovingly designed to look somewhat authentic. Like the content of real archives, they are weirdly formatted and hard to read. The book also contains more than a few illustrations, including bats and other animals, which are quite nicely rendered.
The plots themselves make little sense outside the fantastic context. The troubles and challenges themselves aren’t actually that interesting to me, mainly because they are so ludicrously unrealistic. The troubles and challenges themselves aren’t than interesting and the future dystopian, post Collapse, City State is, frankly, pretty silly. For that matter, the “historic” nineteenth century adventures make little sense either.
We certainly are rooting for the young people to escape their plights and find a way to have a good life together.
For me, the pleasure in this book has to be in the graphical design and the faux artifacts he uses to tell the story, regardless of whether the story makes sense or not. Dodson is clearly a talented writer and designer, so I was able to just relax and go with it.
- Dodson, Zachary Thomas, Bats of the Republic, New York, Doubleday, 2015.
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