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Paris 2119 h/c

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Paris 2119 h/c back

Zep & Dominique Bertail


Page 45 Review by Stephen

"I love the Metro...
"The slowness... the darkness...
"The smell of burning wood and rubber.
"No one travels like this anymore. Except the odd tourist.
"No one travels physically anymore, really...
"Not since that damn Transcore."

My, isn't DeForest Kelley looking all young, hip and smoulder-y these days? You just wait until he gets his kit off!

That isn't something which I ever expected to type.

It's actually Young Parisian and audience-seeking writer Tristan Keys, but not since Star Trek's scowling curmudgeon Dr. McCoy has someone railed against teleportation so cantankerously. Tristan even brings his gripes home with him to calm Kloé, a far more pragmatic professional who needs to travel, worldwide, to meet clients for the Network; so she slips into the nearest deluxe Transcore teleportation cabin, lies back, and pops out in Beijing. Tidy!

I find myself falling into both camps. I adore walking to work every morning, crossing the River Trent then strolling down its Embankment between trees, admiring the light through the leaves up above...or kicking them if they're crisp and senescent and no longer part of the summer canopy. On the other hand, give me the option of an instantaneous Transcore trip straight home some dark winter nights and - You understand me, right...?

Let's listen in on Tristan again, if only so that I can type a little more monologue to emphasise that all our copies are English-language - unlike the illustrations I've found online.

"People don't like the rain...
"People don't like going outside...

I'm definitely down with Tristan now. I love the rain. And I'd sure as each Spring spend as much of my time as possible strolling outside if it took me via the Arc de Triomphe... and locals were walking their anteaters... while a virtual shark circles in the suddenly sunny blue sky.

Did you notice Tristan slipping under a prism of light, there, into much more clement, metereologically controlled conditions? Such "spotlights" are dotted all around town. They're gorgeously rendered by Bertail who's put even more into this graphic novel than his exquisite delineation, resulting in Zep having to rewrite key sequences which weren't anywhere near the thumb-nail sketches accompanying his original script. Including the climax!

Bertail has even totally re-imagined Tristan himself from Zep's more perfunctory, drab rendition. If that version got his kit off, I'd probably look away. No, it's a true back-and-forth collaboration between creators which has resulted in something infinitely more slick and satisfying than a story which could otherwise have been a little bit thin underneath.

Because (bear with me here, please) the weather prisms, sadly, aren't really explored and form no integral or even extraneous part of the plot: that all centres squarely and unfairly with the teleportation system - nigh-universal but for some malcontents seemingly in love with the Channel Tunnel - which Tristan begins to witness going awry. On the Metro he bumps into a seemingly drugged-up or zombified version of someone he later meets if not in prime condition, then at least coherent and sober. Then Tristan spies something far more alarming in action: the police's immolation, right under his nose, of someone staggering, dazed, from her teleportation capsule.

And this is where Zeb's script triumphs, for it is a glorious misdirection in a way that I cannot possibly explain without alerting you to the true, suppressed secret behind everyone's new favourite method of transport. In terms of teleportation, I've never seen this posited before, and it's brilliant.

PARIS 2119 may not be as meaty as Morvan & Wei's exquisitely Baroque, retro-futuristic ZAYA, but it's perfectly weighted for its 70 pages plus extensive, illuminatingly annotated process-piece back-matter.

Plus the punchline - foreshadowed while I wasn't watching - pays off.

As well as the truth, there's a joke in that sentence, but you'll only get it if you buy the book.