Empire State by Adam Christopher
This 2012 novel is an ambitious “comic book without pictures”, with all that implies. Simple yet imaginative plots, shallow but memorable characters, abstract setting.
If you were expecting something more, you will be disappointed.
I wasn’t disappointed. Christopher did a good job of spinning his tale, which isn’t actually that complex except for the fact that it is a completely alternative world. Like the best comics, the situation is morally uncertain, and the very imperfect characters are mostly just trying to muddle through against long odds. (It doesn’t help to have so many doppelgangers running around to confuse the question of good guy versus bad guy.)
Many of the technical details are unrealistic but fun. The flying suits are implausible—outside a comic book. The various “ironclads” are hard to believe, but awesome to imagine. The travel between alternative dimensions make no sense at all. And so on.
But who cares?
Creating a “comic book without the pictures” is not a trivial as it may sound. Christopher does a good job of describing the wonderful pictures, while keeping things simple enough to zip along. Leaving out the pictures is actually really important because, like radio, we have to imagine it in our heads. Honestly, if they ever do make a comic out of this story, it will surely not live up to what I saw in my head.
- Adam Christopher, Empire State, Nottingham, Angry Robot, 2012.
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