Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales… #5: i Robot

March 24th, 2008 by

Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now - 5I have to admit that there is something about this series that has felt a bit “off” to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Each of the stories feels a bit rushed, a bit light, a bit simplistic, and my working assumption is that it’s somehow the medium, because I’ve read many of these stories before, in short story form, and they were great!

I didn’t think it was the art. I’ve, overall, really liked the art, and that goes for this issue too. At least, I liked it well enough while I was reading the comic… but now that I page back through it, I do think there were more than a few awkward drawings. And, worse than that, it felt like there was a sort of disconnect between the art and the writing. For instance, the story is very much about these robots… but we don’t see them as much as it would seem to make sense for us to see them. It’s almost like the artist takes pains to avoid drawing them in the beginning of the comic.

Then there is a scene on page nine with this incredibly descriptive text, (but some really boring art):

He was a diffuse glow in the peed’s electric eye. A kind of moving sunburst that meandered along the wooded trails.

The art that accompanies this quote? It’s a guy driving a car.

But, the art can’t wholly be at fault. There is some awkward plotting also. (For instance, we never really know why the foreign robots are staking out a shopping mall… unless it’s just to kidnap this kid, who is the daughter of a great scientist.) The story is also a bit pedestrian. It could be about this great war that’s not actually being fought because the other side is so far ahead technologically, but instead it’s mostly about this rather lame beat cop who we primarily see using his status as a police officer to keep tabs on his daughter. It’s also (tangentially) about his ex wife who happens to be an brilliant scientist (um, yeah, right).

Don’t get me wrong, because I did really like the comic overall, but I’m just trying to get at what it was about it for me that could have been better. I like Cory Doctorow’s ideas so much! I really want to enjoy these comics. Tucked away in the back pages of the series (in lieu of a letters page, perhaps?) have been short interviews with Doctorow about each of his stories. I have really loved these pages, as I love his views on politics and copyright law. It really was brilliant that he managed to equate Asmov’s three laws to the MPAA RIAA’s attempts to control technology.

Overall, definitely worth reading, but could have been better. Of course, I’m still looking forward to the next one.

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