Simon Stålenhag's THE ELECTRIC STATE
A book review by Dennis D. McDonald
My only negative comment about this book is its size and bulk. I wish it were a paperback or softbound book to enhance its portability.
That aside, this is an incredibly imaginative alternative history/post-apocalyptic road trip of a story.
A young woman and her small robot drive through the remnants of a Western America racked by civil war and the ravages of addictive VR technology. Along the way we learn what she is fleeing from. Only near the end are we closer to finding out what she is seeking.
It is a grim and gloriously illustrated work that incorporates landscapes dotted with damaged and rusty machines as well as still active technology that feeds -- or feeds off? -- the thoughts of those humans still addicted to an advanced and out-of-control hive-mind AI technology.
It is possible to view this book as a thinly veiled parody of society's modern addiction to drugs and technology, all set against a backdrop of civil unrest and environmental catastrophe. But it is, after all, a road trip. The travels and travails of our characters serve as a mechanism for gradually unravelling details of human backstories, social deterioration, and ultimately, sadness.
The reader seeking a linear SF-type mystery where all questions are answered will be disappointed. The author uses scraps of text and large and silent images to draw impressions that SF- and tech-minded readers will respond to with more questions.
But that is not the point of the book. As graphic novels go this one is more artistic and literate than most. It generates impressions and emotional reactions from those willing to dive in. In that regard it as a major artistic success that is at the same time profoundly disturbing. Recommended!
Review copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D> McDonald