Somewhere between the drug induced haze of Brave New World and the crushing dystopia of 1984 is squeezed Jamie Delano's Narcopolis. Complete with its own slang, Narcopolis attempts to create a society that is broken in its own perfection.
The main protagonist of this story is a maladroitly named individual, Gray Neighbor. Gray works on an assembly line that produces bombs that are used to destroy any civilization outside of the Narcopolis that reaches a level that someone (whoever's in charge) decides is dangerous to the city of pleasure. The beginning pages of the book show that the threshold of sophistication is incredibly low as one of Gray's bombs eradicates a village that has a technology level suggestive of Australian aborigines. In order to keep the assembly line workers (and everyone else) from thinking about this too much, all are given a certain amount of "joos" to imbibe; its psychotropic affects keep everyone feeling just ducky, i.e. stoned out of their gourds. The irony here is that we build weapons like this everyday and don't need to be medicated by the state. Well, most of us, anyway.
While all of that may sound somewhat familiar, a number of things in the book set it apart from its predecessors, not the least of which is the art. Rock & Waller somehow manage to convey a type of Californian bohemia while suggesting the overall oppressiveness of the state.
The writing conveys the same sentiment in subtle and not-so-subtle fashions. The slang that is used throughout often takes quite a bit too muddle through, pulling the reader out of the story. However, the social situations constructed forward this very well. When Gray begins to question the slightest things around him, his associates and neighbors all crinkle their noses in disapproval. What is more unsettling it what sets the T.R.U.S.T., the local law enforcement arm, after Gray. he doesn't gain the attention of the authorities because he mounts protests or becomes politically involved. He draws attention because he isn't spending enough money, doing enough drugs or having enough sex. In other words, he's not distracted so he could be trouble.
What really puts Nacropolis on the outside, though, is that this city state of bliss seems to have some kind of actual enemy. Whether it is manufactured by the state to keep the populace cowed or it's something that honestly seeks to destroy them is unclear, but it's definitely there. I won't go into it, but it is ethereal as it is disturbing.
The first issue of Nacropolis is a bit of an odd duck and may take more than one reading to really pull all of it together for the reader. It's weird enough yet familiar enough to make it worth checking out.
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