Space Opera. I think that every writer may dream of creating one of their own, but few have a vision powerful enough to carry it off successfully.
In his series Orbital, I think that Sylvain Runberg has managed to pull it off.
He manages this by mixing the familiar with the exotic in perfect quantities. So here we have a story set on Earth with our main protagonists a pair of mismatched cops.
Then the waters get nice and muddied.
I was particularly taken by the human lead-Caleb. His actions and motivations in the book are… complicated. Likewise, his partner, Mezoke, who is a member of an alien race called the Sandjarr (the war between then and earth having recently ended) has some of her background revealed in this volume, which also serves to complicate her actions.
All the political wheeling and dealing is balanced out by some nice action sequences and scenes of achingly cool ships zooming across the mountains and seas.
Ah yes, the design. It always come back to the art in these Cinebook volumes, doesn’t it? The art is very good, with the slightly cartoony take on characters working very well. But it is in the design work that it really delivers. Cities and aliens and ships all battle for top spot in the wow factor as the reader turns each page to find another new wonder to drool over. It is too easy to throw about comparisons to Blade Runner (as is always done when anything approaching a tall building features in sci-fi) or to artists like Moebius. But I’m going to do it anyway.
I have a complaint though. This volume really is too short. The story does not end at what I feel is a natural volume break- in that it is not strictly a cliffhanger- although it does leave the reader desperate to read the next volume. It does read like it ended there because the page count demanded it. Thankfully, I have the next volume sitting right now on the to-be-read pile!