The third and final instalment of Aldebaran answers a few questions but leaves many hanging. While humanity finishes this book looking in rude health on the colonised planet, its mysterious fauna – particularly the strange shape-shifting sea giant Mantris – remain an unknown quantity. This may be a bit of a disappointment to those expecting a unified theory of life on Aldebaran, but you’re just going to have to deal with that. It’s not that the conclusion is unsatisfying, as many of the social conflicts that have affected the characters in the books are resolved. But there are no easy answers when it comes to the mysteries of the universe.
LEO’s depiction of humanity remains stiffly illustrated and his dialogue doesn’t flow naturally. But we’re not really here for the chitter-chatter – its’ the majestic beauty of his landscapes and creatures, and the thrill of exploration and survival on an alternate Earth that has brought us back for more.
In fact, because of the way Cinebook is collecting these French bande dessinée albums together – two albums collected in each translated book – Aldebaran finishes half way through this volume. The second half of it is given over to the first instalment of Betelgeuse, the follow up.
After contact was lost between Earth and Aldebaran, another colony ship was sent out in the opposite direction to Betelgeuse, another star thought to have a habitable planet. This colonisation effort was even less successful. In this first chapter, we join it less than 20 years after the ship arrived and things are looking bleak for the settlers. Survival is balanced on a razor’s edge and it looks like the political history of Aldebaran, with its fascist military government and enforced reproduction programme, might be rearing its ugly head once more.
Other elements are carried through from Aldebaran too, including one of the characters, who joins a second ‘rescue’ mission to find out what’s happened to the colonists. It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire.
It seems a bit cheeky to put the first instalment of a new series into the same book as the conclusion of the previous one. But its use of the same hooks of exploration and discovery (along with a healthy extra dose of human conflict and frailty) will grab you by the collar and pull you into the next series. But let’s face it – you’ve made it this far, don’t try and kid yourself that you aren’t going to want to follow up your trip to Aldebaran with a tour of Betelgeuse.
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