Friday, 25 October 2013

Serial: Nanogen by Zachary Bonelli

Nanogen is episode 9 of the Voyage Embarkation Serial. I received a copy of Nanogen from the author in exchange for my review.

Kal and Tria find themselves walking through the abandoned streets of the planet Anysz, only for Kal to be arrested for committing an unknown crime. Once thrown into prison, it becomes apparent that the General in charge of the country that they are currently in, believes that Kal is responsible for the plague that has infected the entire planet a week ago. Having been shown a video where a man that looks like Kal does indeed spread the plague, Kal becomes determined to prove his innocence, and with Tria's encouragement this time, to help find a cure for the disease plaguing Anysz.

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I say it every time I finish one of Bonelli's serial episodes, but it still remains true, I really enjoyed Kal's latest adventure. Not that I thought it was actually possible (the whole story being so good!) but I do believe that Bonelli's writing is getting better and better, and that each episode is more enjoyable than the last. Plus now having a physical ARC of the serial (thank you!) has helped give the story a different feel, and made the fantastic illustrations done by Aubry Kae Anderson, much more noticeable and central (and they look better on paper than on my kindle!)

I think that it is pretty safe to say that the stories told in each episode are becoming more and more complex as they go on, there was a real feeling of deeper secondary characters with more rounded character traits. I think this is partly down to the fact that, now we're on the ninth episode, the characters of both Kal and Tria are pretty established, and now even there growth doesn't need to be as central allowing the other characters met in each world to come to the forefront.

There was a real sense of 1984 and Orwellian gloom in Nanogen, I'm not saying it is a rip off or anything because you couldn't get any further from the truth, and there was actually very little that could be directly paralleled to the Orwellian classic. For me there was just a deeper sense of gloom. Whether that was because of the tone shift to a much darker storyline in this episode, or the ominous start of empty streets, posters and an arrest I'm not sure. Whatever the reason, I found that the tone shift was well executed, as with all the previous episodes!

The theme of the misuse of technology is brought up again in Nanogen, but in a change from the other episodes, in this one, Kal is the person who is focusing most on the ethics. I'm not saying that Kal is unethical in his use of nanotechnology, because he isn't, but normally it is the secondary characters warning about the issues with the misuse of nanotechnology. I thought that the change here meant that we saw a more mature and sensible Kal, which was fine tuned with his sensitive and helpful nature. He is most definitely a multi layered and well thought out character. One of the quotes that struck me from Kal's perspective was when he was talking about not giving in to violence and what people should say when encouraged to react violently:
I reject everything you represent, and I quit you version of the game. My rules are better.
Kal's rules being pacifism and the game being the violent way of life which is considered the norm on the planet Anysz. I also liked the use of the name Nanogen, which made me think of medical terms like pathogen after the story arc became clear.

Once again this is a highly enjoyable and readable episode, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the serial!