Friday, April 21, 2006

Planetes, v.1

By Makoto Yukimura
Published in the U.S. by TokyoPop

Slugline: In the future, space is home for exciting and mundane jobs, and sometimes they are both at the same time.

Do you remember space? I mean the excitement of space, what makes kids dream of being astronauts. NASA has tried hard to take away the mystique of space, making just a job, not an adventure, in order to convince everyone it is safe.

Planetes reminds us that while space can be like any other place where you work, it also isn't. The sense of wonder, of being part of something greater, is also part of the story.

The story is about a trio of characters who are in the most prosaic of occupations, trash collectors. Except the job is in orbit, where even the smallest piece of debris can destroy a station or a satellite, a place dangerous and beautiful.

The three main characters get equal time in this book, though I understand that the story becomes more about Hachi, the youngest and most ambitious member of the team in later volumes. In this volume Yuri, whose wife died in a debris-caused accident, and Fee, the female commander of their team, both have their own storylines. This volume is episodic, with stories focusing on different characters, or on their environment, such as the perils of growing up on the moon.

While it's science fiction, the time is near enough to our own that people remain the same, with motivations that transcend the setting. In other words, I really liked this and it made me wish that I had a couple million burning a hole in my pocket so I can take ride on SpaceShip One for a brief touch of Space.

- Ferdinand

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