Orbital Vol 8: Contacts

By Pellé & RunbergCover to Orbital 8: Contacts
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781849184977

We’ve had to wait patiently, but the final edition of Orbital has arrived to tie up the intergalactic tale. From the beginning it’s been an ambitious story that has been keen to set itself apart from other sci-fi fiction. For my money, it has succeeded in this for two main reasons. Firstly it’s not a human-orientated story. Although one of the main characters is indeed human, he’s not operating in a narrative dominated by them, which in turn shifts the dynamic away from giving old homo sapiens more importance than we perhaps deserve. Secondly, it’s the art. Pellé’s illustrations, his alien designs, his depiction of tech, and, perhaps most striking of all, his use of colour, have shaped a distinctive tale that doesn’t feel like it’s part of anyone else’s vision.

But what about this particular book? The Nueronomes are threatening countless worlds and, for some of them, the danger has already been realised. Calib, Mezoke, Angus and Dernid have found the origin planet of the Nueronomes and hope to reveal a way of halting the onslaught. Although the civilisation they seek to unearth is long lost, there are answers here if they can just find them. With Angus’s help they split up, but the threats are many, and are lethal.

It’s not easy to end a tale. Story threads need tying up, a resolution needs delivering, and the reader is inevitably expecting a happy ending. None of those things are guaranteed though, and Pellé and Runberg play those cards to their advantage. They’re not simply going to deliver what you might expect, and that makes their choice of unending a revelation. It might divide readers, but hopefully people will agree that a tidier, neater finale doesn’t always do a story justice, and it certainly doesn’t reflect the lives we lead. It’s a commendable decision, I reckon.

And if you liked that: If you’ve never read it, give The Incal a go.

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