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Parallel Lives


A scene from Parallel Lives by Olivier Schrauwen

Olivier Schrauwen is a master of unsettling narratives and unreliable narrators. This collection of science fiction stories is no different, apparently narrated by members of the Schrauwen family dynasty, despite the fact that most of the stories are set in the far future.

The first story is the only contemporary tale, which recounts Schrauwen’s experience of being abducted by aliens, which has a surprising air of comedy about it. The piece is wonderfully told, with some glorious comedic moments.

An image from Olivier Schrauwen's Parallel Lives

It sets the tone for the rest of the book. There’s a bizarre sci-fi theme carried throughout and, like Arsène Schrauwen (the fictional and highly fantasised memoir of his grandfather), here we’re seeing the fictional stories of his descendants. Schrauwen gazes into the future and extrapolates a humanity where gender is fluid, sex is mechanically enhanced, and humans explore the stars looking for primitive alien species to point and laugh at.

The illustration isn’t as raw as Arsène Schrauwen‘s, with a bit more colour and more reliable lettering, though there’s still an economy of style here that makes the illustration appear unrefined. However, consumed in conjunction with the story, something seems to click and we’re escorted on a satisfactory meander through Schrauwen’s imagination.

Don’t bother with this if you’re looking for a realistic sci-fi anthology that takes itself seriously: this is a raucous, bawdy, complex book. It’s certain to grab you if you’re a fan of Schrauwen’s previous works, but could leave you floundering if you were hoping for something more straightforward and run-of-the-mill.

Story: 4 Art: 3 Overall: 4

Written by: Olivier Schrauwen
Art by: Olivier Schrauwen
Publisher: Fantagraphics
First published: 2018

Andy Shaw

2 Comments

  1. for future reference, there’s no such thing as a future ancestor, they are called descendants

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