Tuesday, December 18, 2018

54. Valérian l'Intégrale volume 2 by Christin and Mézieres

This volume comprises the fifth, sixth and seventh books in the series and here we get more into the episodic visiting of different worlds.  There is so far not a longer narrative through line other than Valérian and Laureline's teasing, platonic banter.  Here they end up on a different world in each book, have to resolve a social/technical problem as well as save themselves.  One thing that is not entirely clear is the tone of these books.  The two chrono agents never seem truly threatened.  They do have highly advanced technology at their fingertips, but sometimes they lose their ship and all their stuff and yet seem to float above the risks and dangers of the people they are trying to rescue.  I am not against it, as it makes the reading a lot more fun.  But I wonder how much of it is an artifact of the style of bandes-desinnées of the period they were created in, the tendency for the french to always go slightly goofy.  We shall see how it evolves.

Le Pays sans Étoile - Here they arrive on a far outpost that has recently got itself established enough that they don't need help from the tempo-spatiel chrono agents.  Valérian and Laureline are just here to say goodbye.  Unfortunately, they also discover that another planet, off its orbit and hurtling towards this solar system, risks to destroy the new settlements.  They go to this barren rock to discover that it has a world inside of it, a world with two city-states, at perpetual war with one another.  One of the city-states is run by decadent men and the women are all slaves and the other is run by decadent women and the men are all slaves.

Bienvenue sur Alflolol - This story takes place back at Technorog, a resource treasure for the vast Terrien galactic empire.  It is here that the fuel and technology that Valérian and Laureline depend on is produced.  On their way in, they discover a lost ship of weird, fun-loving aliens who turn out to be the original inhabitants of Technorog (known to them as Alflolol).  Because the earth empire follows a Prime Directive type of rule, these natives must be allowed to return home and settle where they want.  This causes a massive disruption in Technorog's production capacity and conflict with the leaders there.  This was light-hearted in treatment (and in its resolution), which undermined a bit the power and pain behind the theme.

Les Oiseaux du Maître - Their ship sucked into a planet with a bunch of other trapped ships, they tempo-spatiel agents find themselves in a land where a civiliization of other crash survivors all work to provide food for the master. They are driven by flocks of poisonous birds that make you go crazy if they bite you.  Over the centuries that this has been going on, the people have become fully enslaved to the master.

One interesting commonality between the first and third stories is that in both cases, V and L join a caravan at the beginning and travel across this strange land to the narrative goal.  In the first one, they join a migrant tribe who role is to mine the explosive eggs the two cities use as weapons and a lot of the first part of the book is them on a great route to one of the cities.  In the third book, they fall in amongst the people who strip the ocean of seaweed to add to the extravagant meals of the master.  They too walk along a major trail, joining up with other food providers (farmers, livestock raisers, etc.) who are all heading to the place where the feeding of the master happens.  Not sure if this is anything but a coincidence, but an interesting early pattern to keep an eye out for.

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