When you think of a science fiction city–one populated with humans, what is the first movie you think of? Was it Blade Runner? Because that was the most iconic science fiction city to me growing up. The city first and foremost felt like it was the future, but also seemed to house so many more stories outside of the one being told. That’s something IDW’s new series, Satellite Falling, seems to capture right out of the gate, but is it good?
Satellite Falling #1 (IDW Publishing)
There’s a female protagonist on the cover, but beyond that, what’s it about? The official IDW summary reads:
A lone human survived the death of the one she loved, and escaped a corrupt Earth. She now makes her way as a bounty hunter, on a satellite full of aliens. But someone’s about to turn her life upside down…
Why does this book matter?
I know writer Steve Horton best from his fantastic fantasy miniseries Amala’s Blade, which had some impressive world building of its own. That world felt lived in right out of the gate, but also had a strong female protagonist that you could relate to and cheer on. Chances are he’s brought those same skills to the science fiction realm here. Good world building plus good female protagonist? Sign me up any day.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I was floored with how good this book was as I had no expectations and wasn’t completely blown away by the basic premise. That is, until I read the darn thing. The main character is named Lilly, a human amongst aliens on a satellite that’s just as rough and tumble as a western saloon. We quickly learn she’s gay, but that doesn’t define her and at this juncture actually serves to highlight a feature of a certain alien suitor. I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers, but know that Horton manages to pack a lot of storytelling in this issue, making it a treat for those sick of compressed storytelling.
Well that looks cool!
Ultimately this issue takes place over two days and three scenes, but in each of these we learn about Lilly and the world, and get a sense of how big it all is. Take for instance an ability Lilly has to appear as an alien using holograms. It’s a neat trick and it looks cool too, but it also serves to show some neat science fiction tech and reveal Lilly isn’t exactly on the straight and narrow, using some not-so-sanctioned technology. Turn the page and see what self-therapy is like in the future. These neat science fiction elements are held together by Lilly who is relatable, but also scenes that feel fresh.
The fact that you’ll relate to and feel like you know Lilly by the end of the issue is in large part due to artist Stephen Thompson’s excellent character design. The facial expressions for Lilly say so much and even when she’s not speaking you understand what she might be thinking, or in other cases feeling. Everything around Lilly is fantastic too, from the alien design to the detail put into them. The environments are highly detailed and quite nice to look at. I found myself staring at Lilly’s bounty early in the issue just ogling the design of it. It’s part dog, part hippo, but also part humanoid. You get a sense this thing could actually be living in our universe. Thompson makes you believe in this world.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s some nudity so parents should probably be warned, but that’s not a knock at all.
While the last third of the book is well scripted and well plotted I did see it coming a mile away. It doesn’t hurt the entertainment value too much, but it’s still an opportunity missed as far as surprises are concerned.
I kind of love the design of that alien.
Is It Good?
Science fiction fans need this in their life. The world reads as if it’s honest-to-goodness alive and the protagonist is living there as we speak. You won’t be disappointed if you like a character focused story with a lot of science fiction thrown in.