Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hex Picks: Sci-Fi Month

It's recommendation time again! This month, Hex Dimension tried something new and had a constant theme running through all our picks. The theme for July was science-fiction (we are a geek website, after all) and it resulted in a bunch of great suggestions, ranging from hardcore cyberpunk to whacky space-fantasy.

As always, we started with books, moved on to films, then games, and wrapped up this week with comics. Hopefully you'll check them all out and discover some hidden sci-fi gems! Unfortunately, I missed the deadline for that final post (by a mere half-hour, I swear) and my recommended comic didn't make the cut. I do still want to share it with you, though, so I've decided to post it here on NerdTech instead:


Girl Genius - Phil and Kaja Foglio

All this month, for our sci-fi recommendations, I've been trying to pick examples of real, hard sci-fi rather than that namby-pamby soft stuff. But I've been racking my brains for a similarly hardcore comic and, shamefully, I don't think I've read any! So today I'm going completely the other way.

Kaja and Phil Foglio's ongoing webcomic Girl Genius is about as soft and unrealistic as it's possible for sci-fi to be. Because this is not a comic about science; it's a comic about MAD science. Girl Genius takes the age-old idea of the mad scientist and spins it in a unique direction: what if all scientists were mad? What if the use and understanding of science required (and also caused) a certain level of insanity? What would that world be like?

The answer, of course, is "very very silly". This is a world of giant clockwork men, steampunk spider-tanks, airship cities, unstable time-machines, frankinsteinian abominations, and an alarming number of death-rays. But that's all just texture - this sci-fi nonsense is fun, but the substance lies in some great characters and relationships, and there's some pretty complex political intrigue too.

The art can be a little messy and confusing at times, and the story often throws things rapidly and haphazardly together, possibly just to see what works - but the chaos actually suits Girl Genius perfectly. It's a mad experiment performed by crazy people, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But hey, that's SCIENCE!