i think i found myself a gem in the bookshelves. while looking for good buys over at Booksale on my vacation i stumbled upon this beauty of a manga by Makoto Yukimura, Planetes Volume 1. it's a pretty fun read about the challenges of man as he goes beyond the confines of his home planet and beyond the stars, feeding his insatiable appetite for resources and progress. it's basically something of a Hard Science-Drama fiction~ presented in the lives of an ordinary space debris clean-up crew, Hachirota (Hachimaki by his friends) Hoshino, Fee, Yuri (his last name escapes me). the nationalities of each are Japanese, American and Russian, respectively. and since this is a story based on space travel and astronauts, it's a rather clever symbolism for three of the pioneering agents of space exploration.
the stories all begin as spotlights for each character, growing into a bigger, cautionary tale about life in space. in fact it begins on a rather grim note as we see in the first chapter how Yuri lost his Japanese wife to a Debris storm that decimated their commercial spaceliner, leaving him as the lone survivor, to Fee saving the world~accidentally from space terrorists wanting to keep outer space clean and uncolonized... by making a shitload of a debris belt around the planet earth that will keep people from leaving and kill everyone that already left, to Hachimaki dealing with Deep-Space Disorder (a sickness that induces extreme anxiety by being exposed to the sensory deprivation of deep space).
i think my favorite so far is chapter 2 where Hachi meets a Lunarian ( a human born on the moon colony) named Nono, she's taller than Hachi, and appears to be a young, healthy woman, when in reality, she's only 12 years old. the low-gravity surroundings have accelerated her growth, but in comparison to earth-born humans she is very weak. she longs to experience swimming in earth's oceans but is content with her moon home. as Hachi mentioned in the story;
you accept the world you live in, no matter how desolate it is.
i want to share with you now my three favorite pages of the story that i found reproduced on the world wide intarwebs (Copyright 2001 Makoto Yukimura, 2007 Mangahut.com)
Beauty is, as they say... in the eye of the beholder.
at the heart of this story the author presents a challenge to the reader about what we call our homes, in contrast to those like Hachi who question their decisions of leaving the earth to explore and colonize outer space, Nono has known nothing but the world of outer space, she views the earth the way we would view the moon from here; distant, mysterious, beautiful.
i wouldn't label Planetes a sort of sci-fi environmentalist yarn, but more of a reflection of what we are as a race of "intelligent" beings, this is our possible future, we can make it work, or we can make it better.
we are all dreamers, and one day we'll wake up to find we're living our dreams.
~ Miko Tizon, 2009
if you're interested in reading this manga, you can find it online here
in fact i'll read it right now.