Sentient by author Jeff Lemire, Illustrations Gabriel Walta
Sentient is a standalone science fiction graphic novel by the acclaimed team of Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Walta. I love it when I can find a comic book that is a single story in a single trade paperback. Not part of an ongoing series that may never be completed, but a solid story all by itself. This also means it doesnt run the risk of being canceled in case of low sales.
Sentient grabs the reader immediately with an intense opening. It’s better to leave more unsaid on this one. I don’t want to ruin the surprise and shock. But due to some exciting spoilers there is a group of children left alone on a space craft traveling through a stretch of the universe unreachable by any communications.
They must figure out how to survive until the ship can get to their destination. Luckily, their ship is equipped with a complex artifical intelligence system. One that, right before the incident, had all of its safeguards removed. This means the AI can now perform as a sentient being, independent of any commands. A sentient AI can be very helpful, but that also means it has the capacity to turn against humans, this is always a risk.
The graphic novel follows as both the children and the AI grow up very quickly. Jobs and duties must be performed that are well outside of their current experience levels. But they learn and advance quite quickly and perform well under the pressure to survive. Do not underestimate the intelligence and adaptability of children.
Obviously, there will be other conflicts to contend with but this is a spoiler free review so let’s just leave it at that. But they’re good, they’re worth reading.
Sentient is a short but involved story. There is a lot that happens on these few pages and it is truly remarkable what is accomplished here. In fewer that 200 pages Lemire and Walta create a whole new set of societal conflicts and rules. Characters and relationships are developed and there is nothing superfluous to distract from the main mission.
In my opinion, good science fiction builds on our current technology and societies. If it goes too far outside of our current understanding of what is possible then the science becomes magic and the sci fi becomes fantasy. Sentient understands how to relate the sci fi aspects to real world political and personal conflicts. The science is advanced but real and the human characters are real with understandable motives.
I strongly recommend Sentient to any reader. It’s a sci fi graphic novel but please never let something like genre deter you from reading something. It’s a great book, that’s all that matters.
5/5 space ships 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀
If you like Sentient you might also like Descender
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Buy it here: Sentient