Author, Ann Nocenti
and David Aja
by Roy Peak
The Earth is dying, perhaps on its last dark days. Humanity goes on, as it does, fractured, tenuous, some grasping at hope, many ignoring the inevitable. A city is divided physically by a wall patrolled by armed guards who are easily bribed to look the other way. Across the wall is a vast wasteland where dwell those who have thrown their tech away—no phones, no cameras, no electricity—in anticipation of the coming world's end.
Alien beings have come to the dying planet with instructions to "gather all the seeds." One alien strikes a friendship with a human girl which goes too far. Their relationship is discovered by a reporter looking for a scoop. I won't give away the story as it's a puzzle to discover on your own.
Begun in 2016 and finished right before the 2020 Pandemic, Nocenti and Aja's tale is imaginatively prescient. Fake news is all the rage, the bees are disappearing, delivery drones drop dangerous packages, a digital cloud holds humanity's stores of information, and still, money makes the world go around.
David Aja's art throughout is sublimely perfect in its execution. Creepy, touches of noir, unsettling. Black and white with colored ambience, much like hand colored Xerox copies of old photographs. The hexagon shape of everyday items such as honeycombs, tortoise shells, chainlink fencing, and more are used repeatedly as anchor points in the story. Mesmerizing, iconic, evocative. A wonderful match for Nocenti's words. Aja's images of bees and honeycombs, naked shotgun-wielding aliens, a dead astronaut hurtling through space, a convention of alien wannabes, and a barely seaworthy ship fit in perfectly with the humans populating the story. His rendition of a wasteland is full of insects, birds, cats, scruffs of trees—just as it should be. Where there is death, there is often life, you just have to know where to look.
Ann Nocenti's story is written simply, elegantly, leaving morsels of mystery to show us a time and place very much like ours. A true one of a kind book.
Roy Peak is Sacred Chickens' Music Editor. He has played electric bass in more bands than he cares to remember for more years than he can remember. He wrote the theme song for the Utica, New York radio show "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn" on WPNR-FM. His solo debut album, All Is Well, has been called "Loud, cacophonous, and beautiful by a truly unique artist" or check out his latest album, A Wolf at the Door. His short fiction has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and he writes music reviews for the King Tut Vintage Album Museum of Jacksonville. Roy writes music reviews for the Rocking Magpie among others.