ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE - LIVE FROM THE MOON, by Larry Young, Charlie Adlard and Matt Smith
AiT/Planet Lar, 2001, paperback, £9.99
This review first appeared in The Alien Online
It's 2019: meet Annie Franklin, Dave Archer and Heck the cameraman, Channel Seven's finest news team. They've been invited to film an interview with the world's richest man, Ishmael Hayes, who has quite a scoop for them. Hayes has spent the last few years putting his fortune to use to build a fleet of moon rockets to establish a permanent base on our satellite, and our intrepid hacks have an invitation to film it - live. But when an apparent eco-terrorist attack tips Hayes' hand and forces the expedition to launch not only early, but with our heroes aboard, it turns out (what did you expect??) that Hayes' explanation of his grand adventure may be somewhat, er, biased.
Larry Young must have thoroughly enjoyed letting his imagination run away with him when writing this book, and he made an excellent choice in getting Matt Smith in to draw it. Smith's artwork bears a remarkable resemblance to Mike (Hellboy) Mignola's - photo-realists need not apply. His black and white depictions of the spacecraft and various other technologies in Astronauts In Trouble are bulky and crude, and all the more effective for that. Faces are similarly rendered with the bare minimum of line and shadow necessary to convey thoughts and intentions. The book looks slightly simplistic in that the artwork doesn't encourage you to slow down, it just carries you through on the crest of a wave - an excellent way to defuse some of the insanity of the story.
A big dumb Boy's Own adventure story in space, that's what Astronauts In Trouble is. The science isn't terribly rigorous, and the background to the story isn't awfully well drawn-in, but I liked Astronauts In Trouble - it wears its heart on its sleeve and it isn't embarrassed to be an enjoyable good-natured Golden Age sf frolic. Yes, frolic.
Read it in-between some Greg Egan and Kim Stanley Robinson and crack a smile!