Six months from now, detailed schematics anonymously uploaded to the Internet will describe, with absolute precision, how to build a faster-than-light engine for $200 in easily-available parts. Space travel will be instantly—and chaotically—democratized. The entire cosmos is suddenly within reach of all humankind, without organization, authority, or limitation.
This comics anthology is about what happens next.
FTL, Y’all! (FTL standing for “faster-than-light”), edited by C. Spike Trotman and Amanda Lafrenais, is an anthology of comics that explore what comes after detailed and simple plans for a $200 faster-than-light engine is anonymously uploaded, becoming “instantly – and chaotically – democratized”. Each story took a completely different approach to the idea of “what comes after”: some dealing with life on Earth directly after these plans would become available, some skipping years to a future in which FTL travel is a part of life in space. Each story was creative and beautifully illustrated and emotional, and each had a little nugget of the meaning behind humanity in this alternate future.
Stories that deal with the premise of “what comes after” are already my favorite thing ever (see: 17776 and Station Eleven) and the fact that this is a comics anthology (!) is basically the icing on the cake. Some of these stories were humorous, dealing with Space TSA and interstellar travel, and some dealt with the conundrums of mortality after escaping a ravaged Earth. Sprinkled throughout each and every story, however, were reminders of Earth, ranging again from livestreams and social media to global warming and police states. This is honestly one of my favorite things about anthologies- they can make you feel so much and can cover such a broad range of topics! And these folks did it in comics ranging from 8 to 30 pages!
- “M.S.P.I.P.S.P” by Kay Rossbach: a very cute little story about a mom and daughter and their amusing predicament of events as they try to navigate the Minneapolis/St. Paul Interplanetary Spaceport (remember Space TSA?).
- “Ignition” by Iris Jay and Skolli Rubedo: aliens! Surprisingly few of these stories had aliens as main characters. But this one had aliens andsentient spacecrafts!
- “Space to Grow” by N.N. Chan: BLOGGING IN SPACE. Both a fun, space-commentary on online culture, engaging with trolls, and taking care of yourself online, along with just a very cute art style to watch an exploration of different planets.
- “The Senior Project” by Maia Hobabe: A very sweet story of friendship, family, and senior projects. Also, botany. I think The Martian proved that botany in space is incredibly fascinating.
(A note: One complaint I saw on Goodreads while writing the initial review for this anthology was that none of the stories were “hard sci-fi”, which, to be fair, is partly due to the nature of an anthology, in my opinion. It’s harder to fit hard sci-fi in comics that average about 20 pages long, and, frankly, who would want to read that? I think fun or emotional stories about humanity are much more interesting and compelling within this format.)
have you ever read a comics anthology? what do you think would happen if FTL engines really did get released to the public tomorrow? would you head to mars?