Saturday, October 31, 2015

Inherit the Stars - Fish

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes.)

Yukinobu Hoshino is relatively well-known as a science fiction manga artist. I've reviewed one of his stories before (vol. 3 of Case Records of Professor Munakata). From 2011 to 2012 he serialized an adaptation of James P. Hogan's Giants series. In 2015, My First BIG Special began reissuing the manga as three wide volumes. Vol. 3 will come out in November. In 1981, the Japanese translation of Inherit the Stars won the Seiun Award for best foreign language translation of a novel, and Entoverse (book 4 of the series) won in 1994. Hoshino's manga won in 2013 for the Comics category.

(Hunt and Danchekker examine their Lunarian.)

Inherit the Stars - 異星の魚 (Fish from a Different Planet), Grade: B
I haven't read the original novels, in part because I've never been a fan of Hogan's works, and I skipped a lot of the more detailed narrative in the manga. So, I can't say how faithful the manga is to the novel. I can say that the manga is very wordy, and most of the hard-core SF explanations (for how the ships work, or how the giants and mankind evolved) aren't really necessary. The artwork is mostly good, especially the ships, and all of the background art of the moon, other planets and the stars. I assume Hoshino has assistants helping him in his studio, and that some of them have serious problems drawing faces in the smaller panels. Otherwise, visually Inherit is a good manga. Story-wise, it's slow and plodding, unless you really like the alternative evolution explanations.

(Hunt and company try to explain how all life prior to 50,000 years ago suddenly made way for homo sapiens.)

Since you can read the novels in English, I'll just give a brief summary of the story here. In 2027, mankind begins space exploration again, and they discover a body in a cave on the moon. A team of scientists, including Victor Hunt and Christian Danchekker, go to the moon to investigate the body, determining it to be human, but 50,000 years old. The "Lunarian", as he is called, had kept a diary, which is deciphered. It says that the Lunarians came from a planet divided into two continents, Cerios and Lambian, which had been at war with each other. The war ended with the use of nuclear weapons that destroyed the planet and left this one person stranded on the moon. Because Hunt can clearly see the Earth from the moon, it takes him time to realize that the "Lunarians" actually lived on a planet nicknamed "Minerva", located between Mars and Jupiter. When it was destroyed it became Pluto and the remnants were scattered through the asteroid belt, while Minerva's moon was ejected and then captured by the Earth. This theory doesn't explain the connection of the Lunarian and homo sapiens, yet.

To some extent, the Earth governments are controlled by a "peace-keeping group" called the Jevlen. They step in and confiscate the Lunarian and a space tank located nearby. However, the space council that hired Hunt secretly puts the scientists on a ship they've been building on the far side of the moon to send them to Ganymede, where other Earthlings have uncovered a crashed spaceship 1 million years old. In the ship are cages holding samples of Earth creatures, although the Cro-magnon Man sample is found lying out in the corridors. On the bridge are the bodies of huge aliens, nicknamed "Giants".

Summary: Volume 1 of the manga in wide version matches up with the first novel. Overall, the story is ok, but not really great. As mentioned above, I like the space artwork, and the character designs are good. I've got a number of complaints regarding the science in the story, the biggest of which is why the asteroid belt is so uniformly thinned out, given that Minerva was shattered only 50,000 years ago. The age of Pluto should be easily measurable given the tech in the book, and even with our own tech, we'd be able to tell something was "off" about Pluto if it originally had been part of Minerva. Regardless, I will keep reading the manga when the third volume is released in November.

One note on the title: In English, Hogan's books are part of the "Giants" series, and the first volume was named "Inherit the Stars". Hoshino decided to name his full series "Inherit the Stars", and the first book is "異星の魚" (Isei no Sakana, or "Fish From a Different Planet").

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