Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Aama - The Smell of Warm Dust by Frederik Peeters

Moebius already said he was a fan of Frederik Peeters' art and world building in the introduction to Pachyderme and I can certainly see why he is. Peeters' world building is grand in scope, just like Moebius' and both can create characters that, whether they are likable or not each have their own flaws and inner compass. These aspects are also present in Aama and makes us readers care about the story from the first page.
The abandoned space ship of the colony
In Aama - The Smell of Warm Dust we follow the story of Verloc Nim, who wakes up in the middle of a bizarre landscape, not knowing how he got there, or even knowing who he is. In the distance a giant and übercool cigar smoking ape, that turns out to be a robot, strolls towards him and calls out his name. Verloc asks the ape, Churchill, how he got there and who he is. Churchill hands over Verloc's diary and tells him to read it. The diary serves as the vehicle for telling both Verloc and us readers who Verloc is, what his miserable story is, and the events and choices made that lead up to his present situation and location.

In The Smell of Warm Dust we get to know about this world Verloc wakes up in. He discovers by reading his diary that this is where an eight person colony lives, but that they were abandoned by an organisation from Verloc's home planet Radiant. Verloc's brother now works for this organisation. So what is this organisation? What is the disaster that happened causing them to abandon their own people on some strange otherworldly planet? What did Verloc's life look like when he decided to join his brother on this trip? These questions and a whole set of others is what you can expect to ask yourself when reading this book. It's a great set up for future volumes, three thus far have been published in French.

As with other Peeters stories we get drawn into this futuristic world with all these odd characters from the get go, but again it's all so believable. We get introduced to likable characters, characters that we can emotionally attach ourselves to. Peeter's throws all these situations at them that they have to either solve or undergo. These situations lead to various choices, but what to choose and how to cope with the choices made? How to survive in this world? As you can probably tell by now Peeters delivers us another blend of existentialism and mystery, but adds an extra dose of action that has not been very present in his previous work.

It is not difficult to see, not even after reading just the first volume of this planned four volume story, that Aama won the award for best ongoing series at 2013's Angoulême festival in France. Winning that award is no mean feat, especially if you look at the other nominees. SelfMadeHero picked this title up for the English language market and I can see why. Frederik Peeter creates another unique futuristic world with characters you can emotionally attach yourself to. Aama is a blend of the action in Koma (published by Humanoids) and mystery of Pachyderme. This first volume is now available in the UK and Europe and will be published in the US and Canada in March. Highly recommended!
Aama vol. 1 - The Smell of Warm Dust is published in English by SelfMadeHero | £12.99 | ISBN: 9781906838737

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