Page 45 Review by Stephen
Riveting and wrenching subaquatic sci-fi about maintaining hope in the wake of barely conceivable adversity. The adversity is natural then compounded by man. We just cannot help ourselves, can we?
"The pamphlets contain a very potent breed of premeditative creativity. They have become... quite contagious."
The disease these pamphleteers are spreading with their beautiful art and stories is this pernicious, seditious hope. In this society art has been outlawed and optimism is illegal, a crime punishable by death.
The law is enforced by Ministers Of Thought, one of whom lives with a girlfriend who loves to paint. The Minister is petrified of what will happen to her loved one if she's caught with a canvas, and we're given plenty of brutal if balletic evidence of what to expect in that nightmare scenario when the lights go out at a printers pre-publication.
That, however, is as nothing to both the love and terror so vividly rendered by both Remender and Tocchini during the final pages of the first chapter when the game back home is presumed to be up and the Minister of Thought knows only too well what is coming. You'll have to wait a little while to discover exactly who that Minister is, for we then break to rejoin Stel's quest to get to the surface.
For a far more extensive introduction and art overview, please see our review of LOW VOL 1: THE DELIRIUM OF HOPE, but briefly it has come to this:
In the future our sun will expand then go supernova, at which point the Earth itself as well as its inhabitants will need more than Factor 500. We will be engulfed. Obliterated. And that will be the end of our story. This isn't speculative, it is a scientific certainty.
Long before then the radiation levels on the Earth's surface will have exceeded intolerable, so if we haven't already escaped this solar system we'll have needed to move underground or deep, deep, deep underwater.
In LOW humanity hasn't yet found an alternative, habitable planet but Stel - devoted wife and mother of three - is almost unique in remaining optimistic and focussed even though the enormity of the challenge is mind-boggling. Probes were first sent out in search of habitable planets over 13,000 years ago. 13,000 years without success, 13,000 years of failure! Can you imagine maintaining hope in that terrible knowledge? Few others have and, now that less than a year's supply of air remains for Stel's deep-sea colony, its leaders have caved in to drug-fuelled, let's-take-what-we-can-get hedonism. They won't assist or in any way enable Stel's action, even when she believes she's successfully retrieved a probe at least to the Earth's toxic surface.
That's where she's headed now with a new group of allies so there really is hope. But there's also adversity.
Did I mention what's become of Stel's husband, her son and two daughters?