Faster-than-light space travel costs less than an iPhone: how would it change your life? This is the simple premise of the Kickstarted anthology FTL, Y’all!: Tales From the Age of the $200 Warp Drive, which asks creators for their takes on space travel made widely available to the masses through simple schematics uploaded to the internet.
The stories in this anthology vary widely in almost all aspects: art, tone, setting, characters, and even length. There is some variation in quality, as well, with some stories I felt worked better than others. On the whole, though, I enjoyed the vast majority of them. Of course, this is a highly subjective thing, and there are so many different types of stories in this book that there is likely something for just about everyone.
Creators’ approaches to the prompt range from events taking place very soon after FTL (Faster Than Light) travel becomes available to far in the future, when Earth and humans’ lives have already transformed significantly. There are lighter, funnier stories, such as “M.S.P.I.P.S.P.”, in which a mother and daughter suffer the challenges and indignities of spaceport travel that closely resembles modern-day airport struggles. Stories like “Failsafe” tackle heavier topics, such as a character attempting suicide by black hole. Some stories address or comment on issues in our current society, such as “Space to Grow,” in which a young astrobiologist blogger deals with attacks and harassment online. There are stories that focus solely on humans and how Earth is affected, while others include aliens and distant planets.
One of the stand-out best things about this anthology is the diversity of the characters depicted. In a genre that still tends to heavily favor white cis men, this book is a breath of fresh air, with quite a number of characters of color, women, queer characters, and non-binary characters. Additionally, the stories tend not to focus on these specific qualities, but allow characters with these identities to simply exist and be represented in the world. There is very little biographical information provided about the writers and artists, but I suspect there are also a number of creators from groups very underrepresented in science fiction. It’s always great to see new voices and ones that are not often given space or recognition.
The art style of each story is completely different, and readers will probably have likes and dislikes among them. They range from very stylized and cartoony to more realistic, from overly detailed and even crowded to much more sparse. The one story whose artwork I personally struggled with was “I Want To Be Alone.” Each panel packs a lot of very exaggerated detail, and I found it very difficult to parse, to the point where I wasn’t sure what was going on. It’s a style that might have worked better in color rather than black and white. Other than this, I liked some better than others, but found they all generally worked to set tone and mood while effectively conveying the action.
The publisher suggests FTL, Y’all! for adults. This is probably the safest place to shelve it, but I suspect some older teens would enjoy the book as well. It does include some heavy topics, depiction of death, and some swearing, but only in certain stories, and there is nothing too graphic or objectionable. If stories were pre-screened and selected beforehand, most of the content would be appropriate for younger teens, too. On the whole, it’s a book focused on people, connections, and interpersonal relationships presented in the context of a fun sci fi-themed exploration of human nature.
FTL, Y’all!: Tales From the Age of the $200 Warp Drive
Edited by C. Spike Trotman, Amanda
Iron Circus Comics, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: Adult
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Character Traits: Japanese, Black, Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Nonbinary,
Creator Highlights: Own Voices, BIPOC Creator, LGBTQIA+ Creator