Chimpanzee Complex, The 1: Paradox

The Chimpanzee Complex - Mars

The Apollo 11 mission, which saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon, is drenched in conspiracy theories. Ranging from questions of Hollywood fakery to whether previous missions had landed before it, the suspicions of devoted conspiracy theorist know few bounds.

This concept of something fishy going on is hurled into the near future in this French science fiction story. When an unidentified space capsule crashes into the sea, the US Navy is sent to recover it. To their amazement it appears to be the capsule that Armstrong and his team used to return to Earth, and two men – claiming to be Armstrong and Aldrin – climb out of it.

As the story unfurls, more mysteries become apparent. Neither NASA nor the military has a clue what’s going on, as discussions turn to intelligence cover-ups and political white-washes. To find the answers there seems to be only one way forward – to send someone to the moon to try and gather more clues as to exactly what went on up there.

Enter Helen Freeman. Having trained to lead an aborted manned mission to Mars, she’s an obvious candidate for a new lunar exploration mission. However, she’s also got an eight-year-old daughter who already feels she’s playing second fiddle to her mother’s career.

This blends the science fiction with a poignant, human tale of the conflict between work and family. As a professional and a mother, Helen is torn apart by her desire to both fulfil her potential as an astronaut and take care of her daughter. When it comes to getting involved in a top secret mission like this, however, she may finds decisions are being made for her.

It all adds up into an intriguing and intelligent read. Dealing with some of humanity’s basic fundamentals – work, family and the exploration of the unknown – it hits an emotional nerve. It also carries the story well above the average slice of genre pulp, reaffirming French comics as the place to go for intelligent, thoughtful science fiction.

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The Chimpanzee Complex

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