Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Moon Moth

The Moon Moth is an interesting, intriguing read, a murder mystery wrapped in science fiction trappings. The plot revolves around Edwer Thissell, the new consul to the planet Sirene from Earth. He has studied the Sirenese customs and is learning how to negotiate their complex social structure where everyone wears masks, people communicate through musical instruments, and the only currency is based on status, honor, and prestige. On Sirene, to offend a person means courting punishment and almost certain death. Thissell manages to offend fewer people as the story goes on, wearing a lowly mask of the moon moth to reflect his low social standing. We also learn that he has is involved in solving a murder, which is no easy task on a world where everyone wears a mask.

The author of the original short story, Jack Vance, is a mystery, science fiction, and fantasy writer who has been publishing work since 1945. He is well respected and has won major awards such as the Hugo and the Nebula as well as being named a Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master in 1997. Humayoun Ibrahim is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist, and this is his first graphic novel.I felt that the illustrations were brilliant and gorgeous and that the pacing of the story was snappy and fast-moving. This is a fine debut.

Reviews I have seen thus far have been very positive. John Hogan called this book a good introduction to Vance's work for new readers, calling this version "colorfully vivid as it comes to life in a reverentially cartoony form." Mark Frauenfelder wrote on boingboing that Ibrahim, like Vance, was "able to create very weird, but completely believable, worlds, and write about them in such a way that you feel you are in them." Daniel Elkin summed up, "This is a wonderful story which is certainly augmented by its presentation as a graphic novel."

You can read the original short story, published in 1961, here. Previews and more information are available here from First Second.

Thank you, Gina, for the review copy!

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