Monday, February 25, 2008

Lost Books, Part VI: Moore! Moore! Moore!

Alan Moore's The Ballad of Halo Jones is, for me, a lost book in more ways than one. I lent my copy of the most recent edition to a friend, but I don't remember who, and none of the friends I trust enough to lend books to admit to having it. The frustrating thing is, the book is so good that I really can't blame them for wanting to keep it. And now it's out of print. Again.

In his introduction (I'm paraphrasing from memory here), Moore says that he wrote the comics for 2000 AD (a date that then meant 'the future') in an attempt to escape the magazine's formula of heavily armed muscle-bound men blowing things up. As a contrast, he told an sf story of an apparently ordinary young woman going shopping. Of course, the shopping trip involves robot dogs, cyberpunkish streetlife, non-lethal weapons such as Zenades (grenades which induce a Zen-like state of calm), and other diversions.

Halo Jones rises from hazardous poverty in a slum on Earth, to a crew position as a cetacean interpreter on a starliner, and finally to military service and genuine - but quiet - heroism in and after an interstellar war.

Like Gaiman's Sandman series, the book is essentially a collection of short stories with an overarching plot, where seemingly minor incidents and characters turn out to be incredibly important later. The moral of the ballad seems to be that there are no minor or unimportant people (or even unimportant rats): everyone matters.

If you don't like comics, close your eyes and have someone read "I'll Never Forget Whatsisname" to you, and you may change your mind about the entire genre. It's that good.

1 comment:

John Fiala said...

The Ballad of Halo Jones is indeed great stuff.