Page 45 Review by Stephen
Long-lost comedy treasure from twenty-five years ago, which has dated not one jot.
The cartooning is exquisite, with pointy-to-non-existent noses and huge attention to background detail whether it's in the coffee-shop clutter or the wild flowers and trees of a leafy suburb somewhere in America which is quiet enough to be quaint, with countryside on the gabled-porch doorstep, but not too far from a shopping mall, within driving distance of a beach.
Into this environment strides ingénue Ashelle, both a stranger to the town and a stranger to Earth: she's run away from her home in space to avoid military conflict with her father. What are the chances that trouble will follow?
It's bright and breezy, but far from light on the comedy quotient or quality.
This is derived partly from the earnestness of youth, over-analysis of one's own predicament and the disproportionate pride and joy which Princess Ashelle takes in what we'd consider irksome or mundane, like washing dishes while working in a bed and breakfast.
"I'll do any kind of menial labour to help out. A good community member helps out. The experience will enrich me, and I'll go home with lasting memories."
Oh yes, and in the absence of any internal editor whatsoever, Ashelle does tend to over-share:
"I hope I don't seem too strange. I'm finding your culture challenging. But even though half my references want me dead, I'd still be a good worker. Ugh! I shouldn't have mentioned that! I'm saying stupid things. I really want to have this job!
"Please don't allow my personality to colour your opinion of me!"
She's trying her hardest to fit in and harbours a genuine, almost Japanese desire to never inconvenience anyone. Indeed her open-heartedness is infectious and is met in kind. By the local residents like new-found friend, Jen, at least: her off-world ex-boyfriend, sent to kidnap her on pain of death, will stoop to anything (including his knees) to convince his valuable commodity to accompany him home.
"I know you have a good heart!
"Let me exploit it just one more time!"
He's not very good at kidnapping. He's not even her ex-boyfriend. He just told everyone he was going out with her.
Anyway, job interviews are tricky, especially when you're not sure what will make the weekend residents at a B&B feel comfortable. I wonder what pertinent qualifications our princess possesses?
"I am fully trained in four-dimensional sub-light warfare strategy and ground-based tactics.
"Though I disapprove of violence. That's why I ran away from the academy."
Again, with the internal editor!
I wish I could find you more interior art from this volume, but it's all twenty-five years old and tiny. In desperation, then - and this is a first - I'm using two pages from subsequent volumes, not this one. Because, yes, after all this time off our shelves, STARDROP has spawned not just this new edition but brand-new instalments, STARDROP VOL 2 and STARDROP VOL 3. At the very least they give you plenty of indication that things move rapidly on!
I leave you at the shopping mall (try to take me to one and I will leave you there), and this is the sort of lateral thinking that makes me smile.
"This place is like an Imperial System Fortress, but with more colour and less weaponry. Do people come here of their own free will?"
"Sure. What do you mean?"
"I don't know... There's something weird about this place. What's that noise? Are the sub-sensories being broadcast?"
Indeed there are, every hour of the day, but especially in the morning when they want you to start shopping and at night when they would very much like you to bog off back home.
File under Young Adults or old ones, like me.