Review: Paris 2119 HC
Believe me, if I could afford to Kickstart every project from Magnetic Press I would. They've been doing some great work and have a lot of really enticing incentives, the least not being this exclusive Peach Momoko variant with some really nice spot glossing and foil embossing. Toss in some design art book material, a digital soundtrack, and a few other fun bits and pieces and you definitely get your money's worth.
I have no idea what I'm going to do with this coin, maybe scar one side and use it to make all vital decisions in my life going forward? But yay! Coin!
Set in a future where humanity's scientific advances have made leaps and bounds for our convenience, the story follows writer Tristan who refuses to fully take advantage of all the worlds new technologies. Key among them is Transcore, a means of instant teleportation to any destination in the world.
Tristan's lover, Kloe, depends on Transcore for her job though. Pretty much everyone does, including Tristane's new boss who he swore he just saw the previous day wandering the subway in a delirious state. She seems fine now, but then he sees her a few days later suffering the same condition on the subway until she's picked up by some 'medics'.
Tristane gets sucked into a conspiracy revolving around the dark secrets of Transcore, trying to get off the grid and protect his lover Kloe as well.
Paris 2119 is an engaging sci-fi thriller that introduces a rich future world of interesting ideas but unfortunately in too brisk of a manner. Clocking in at about 72 pages of story, this feels like the equivalent of a three volume novel series being crammed into a 90 minute movie. While it does a solid job pushing the main plot forward, it still feels like too much is missing at times. In fact, some elements present in the final product are only explained in the add-on material from the Kickstarter. For example, there's an interesting amount of strange architectural design work throughout the book that you might just assume is a concept of future architecture included for tone and atmosphere.
However in one of the mini-art books there's a breakdown of the future history of this world and they include a fascinating note about a nanotech sculpture installation in Paris suffering a bug. It went out of control and created random geometric shapes across the city like a 'digital fungus'. This is great world building. So while I understand why they may have needed to cut out that bit of potential exposition to tighten the book, it definitely feels like a loss. Especially considering the variant cover features these design elements that are never explained in the core story.
While elements like that are disappointing, they are more forgivable than some of the instances of the plot rushing itself to be over. At a certain point towards the end we get introduced to a new character who Tristan somehow knows and is associated with Transcore, but apparently just because the script needed him to exist to move things along. With the absence of any set-up or background context, it feels like we're missing entire chapters.
Who are you and why are you in this book I bought? Oop, you're gone in two more pages, guess it doesn't matter....
In the same fashion, we also get a master villain introduced to us in the same manner. I guess he's our main antagonist? It's difficult to feel any sense of true alarm or consideration for a non-character whose only purpose is to fulfill the role of a plot element for raising the stakes.
The characters come off more as loose ideas of characters that act as furnishings to place the world building upon. In many cases I would allow that imbalance in storytelling to ruin most of my enjoyment, but the combination of the art and the world design gave me enough additional substance to hold onto.
If anything the true antagonist of the story is the existential repercussions of Tristan's discoveries throughout the book, which is why I give it a lot of leeway because these types of ethical quandaries are my jam. However, while the book offers an existential crisis up to its readers, it doesn't really follow through with fully realizing that crisis to its full extent. Instead it guides us towards a more cinematic ending, one that I suppose is fitting considering how this felt like a trimmed down repackaging of a grander concept. While that may make for a somewhat 'happier' ending, it leaves those of us who are starving to partake in a deep dive of existential nightmare fuel left wanting.
My complaints probably come off a bit strong, but all in all I did really enjoy the book. I just wanted there to be more of it and for a lot of these truly interesting worldbuilding elements to be suitably fleshed out. Please do just take the fact that I want there to be more as a good sign for the qualities of this book.