7 AGAINST CHAOS
Writers: Harlan Ellison
Artist: Paul Chadwick
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)
I’ve never been Star Wars or Star Trek; I’ve always needed both to satiate my limited understanding of the universe – imperial proof balanced with intangible spirituality is my only path. This is what makes Harlan Ellison my writer. A reckless abandon for the known laws of nature delivered in a poetic melody of geek speak. Story, language and art – 7 AGAINST CHAOS is a space opera where high-concept Arias replace narration and dialogue.
I won’t insult Ellison’s legacy by listing it here, plus the man has a well-documented hatred of the Internet so he won’t be hurt by lack of introductions. I have to say if my mind could extrapolate the way Ellison’s does I would probably log-off more often too. Let’s just say, if you profess to love Scy-Fy, you’ve been touched by Ellison. From Star Trek to Babylon 5, to thousands of short stories and essays, to finally a better rendition of Asimov’s I, ROBOT than the sugar coated Will Smith abortion Hollywood chose to bestow on us instead. We owe a century of stories to Ellison.
These old school guys don’t mess around. 7 AGAINST CHAOS wastes no time in recruiting our 7 Agents then rapidly throwing them at the Chaos. The Chaos is basically the earth going more Schizo than a sorority girl after Jello shots. New York suddenly transforming into a dessert, the North Pole becoming a mountain larger than the highest peaks of Mars, etc etc…basically events that make 9/11 toddler fare by comparison. The culprit – time terrorists.
That’s the fantastic, the “humanity” in this balance ironically comes from 7 heroes heralding from all corners of our solar system. We don’t know when exactly 7 takes place, but be sure we’re not going to see it. Hell even our kid’s kids kids kids kids kids won’t see it. Our 8 planets and that small rock that once had delusions of grandeur have been colonized, incorporated, and populated by an aristocracy of 1 percenters and serfdom. From the French Revolution like courts of terraformed Venus to the mineshafts of Jupiter’s moons, social stratums and economic delineations strike eerily close to those of our blessed 50 states of America. Space travel is as commonplace as going to Starbucks for a mocha Frap and all humanity is a hyperbole of what we now know. So it’s with relative ease the cloaked leader of the 7 driven on a mission by the sooth saying Crisis Computers gathers the rest of the team. A 7 foot tall woman from the mining colony of Jupiter – with rock crushing claws instead of hands, an insect-like human who was genetically modified during the last great war of worlds, a recluse genius, a phoenix whose touch sears the skin, a masked man with many similarities to Batman and last but not least the universe’s first sentient robot.
Together the 7 traverse time and space to reach the land before time where an entity is rewriting who the dominant species on the planet will ultimately become. The destination is steeped in Scy-Fy goodness, but as always the journey is the best part. Time travel is not some easy Flux Capacitor affair; the journey takes its toll as all of space is bent inside a black hole. Once in the land of yesteryear, these characters who have we have grown to love and some of which have fallen in love with each other during their long journey make many ultimate sacrifices.
To give away who is tampering with history and why would give away too much of the book and I simply won’t deny anyone the wonderful surprises await. There were moments of this book I screamed “no” and “don’t.” My heart raced in time with the 7 during their harrowing experiences and the silver age art is simply a wonder for the eyes. For anyone who claims today’s art is an anatomical monstrosity defying human proportions, look at how effortlessly Chadwick makes monstrosities so perfectly human.
There’s not much time left for the likes of Ellison. The man was born in 1937. He and his ilk ushered in a new era where we dreamed for the simple sake of dreaming. These pioneers of the last century didn’t understand the words “can’t” or “why.” They dreamed simply because it was humanity’s God given gift to do so. In a world where we scoff belief and won’t take one step forward until we know the outcome or the ROI, we could learn something from Ellison and his writing. If we can think it, we can do it – we simply need to try.