Ahhh, the Singularity. The best friend of speculative fiction in the early 21st century, along with nanites and steampunk. Equal parts valid and dangerous to use, a crutch in the wrong hands and magic in the right hands.
Enter Vision Machine by Greg Pak. Normally this is where I’d give a brief breakdown in what’s come and gone so far in the first two parts. I don’t have to, however, because Pak is using this series to fully embrace the concepts he explores on the page; the comic is being released for free and under a Creative Commons license. You can find issue one and two on the comic’s website (as well a bunch of other great stuff, meta and not), and via ComiXology for iPad and iPhone. Also worth noting is that he’s releasing this himself via his own Pak Man Productions label, sans help from any publisher at all, along with some help from the Ford Foundation.
Let me reiterate– this is all for free. No excuses; there’s nothing stopping you from giving Vision Machine a look. And you should give it a look, because…
…what Greg’s done here is nothing less than construct this generation’s Give Me Liberty. Frank Miller’s grim, fin-headed approach to having grown up in the Vietnam era is swept aside and replaced with the age of Apple and Google’s preternatural rise to domination of the societal hive mind. Laser cannons, brains in jars, and classical revolution are replaced with the hip new product launch, the dark battlefield of content ownership, and the overarching war for information. Every page and panel- wonderfully delivered by R.B. Silva with pencil work that just gets better as the series progresses- is gleaming, sharp, Jonathan Ive clean. All of the usual dystopic trappings are cast aside, and instead of cheapening the message, the look serves to draw me closer to the characters.
Ultimately what’s winning me over the most so far is that it’s not automatically based on the premise that all of this has to suck. I wrote part of this on an iPad (take that, consumption-not-creation argument!); my iPhone goes everywhere I do. I enjoy this stuff because it honestly does bring me my information and computing experience to me in the best way possible for me, and also because it’s cool to use. Vision Machine takes the same stance; technology is a tool, like any other weapon. It’s not the concept of the iEye that’s evil here, it about the people manipulating it and being manipulated by it. Focusing on the makers and the manipulators instead of fetishizing the gear moves Vision Machine’s storytelling the essential step beyond the namedropping didacticism that characterizes a goodly chunk of probable-future SF these days.
There’s still an issue to go, but I have a feeling Vision Machine will be on my short list of books to hook new readers with, next to Atomic Robo and Thor: The Mighty Avenger. It’s an instantly compelling book, a fantastic read with no barrier to entry. There’s no reason not to grab the PDF and post it far and wide.
Just mind the EULA…