Space Story

Set in a near future of apocalyptic threat and space colonization, Fiona Ostby's debut graphic novel, Space Story, is a queer love story full of wistful longing. Three intertwined storylines are delineated by primary colors. Cheery yellow pages recall how Hannah and Leah met, married and had their daughter, Bird. The family had the chance to evacuate a deteriorating Earth and live in a space station, but in the end only Hannah could go; her life now, rendered in melancholy blue, is one of yearning for those missing. Back on a tense Earth, depicted in shades of red, Leah, an engineer, and Bird bide their time until they can join Hannah.

Even in their early days together, Hannah and Leah's relationship was overshadowed by disaster drills and sirens. In a flashback, we see how an accident kept Leah and Bird from accompanying Hannah into orbit. Ostby sets up hope and despair as opposite--but equally rational--responses to this wrenching situation.

Everyday details provide grounding. Gardening is a useful distraction for Hannah, and small moments like a haircut cement human connections. The visual style is Archie Comics meets manga. Many pages are wordless, allowing the pictures to tell the story. Refreshingly, most characters are women or nonbinary and are matter-of-factly represented as queer. Many particularly touching spreads create parallels: a left-hand panel in red, opposite one in blue, show Leah and Hannah in separate beds, facing each other across an impossible divide. The simple layouts and focus on relationships turn a cosmic dystopia into something universal. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

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