By Andrew McClure
I felt that the story of Avinon was a dark reflection on what might result from our real life juxtaposition of advanced technology and a capacity to destroy ourselves. This post-apocalyptic world is dream-like and surreal, but it also somehow seems strangely relevant in our era of advanced robotics and nuclear saber rattling. Avinon was a fun and engaging story. The beautiful illustrations provide an even greater depth to the experience. Not only did I find the characters easy to empathize with, which I think is a critical hurdle for any author to jump, but I also felt that the world building was original and creative. In this world, the Earth has been decimated by a cataclysmic war. We follow three friends as they struggle to make their way in a brave new world of androids, genetically modified mutants, and a shadowy Orwellian regime. Definitely worth reading!
Captain Taylor: The Starship Ceu
In this vision of the future, humanity has finally made it to the stars. While traveling in the depths of interstellar space, the Starship Ceu stumbles upon evidence of another civilization and must decide how to proceed. Against the backdrop of the whole scenario is the reminder that Earth still lies in ruins. Like the previous book, this includes striking illustrations that give the story an additional vibrancy. Not only does the story explore the futuristic themes of space travel and exploration, but it also explores some more familiar motifs of power dynamics, politics, and relationships. While it includes some dark themes of apocalypse and a failing Earth, it also provides us with a glimmer of hope.
The story of Brother Leon explores how the Earth was destroyed and it gives us a closer look at the fragmented world that remains. We are introduced to Vincente and Brother Leon in their quest to discover why the world has crumbled. One thing that really struck me about this one was the surreal depiction of the geographic changes that have taken place and how sections of Europe have been submerged by the rising seas. Like the other two books before it, Brother Leon explores topics of societal degradation and power structure. I really found myself getting into this story as I followed Leon and Vincente through this frightening new world to seek out answers.
Kay: Capital City Arena Champion
In Kay: Capital City Arena Champion, we are introduced to a wide array of fantastical beasts and mutants that our heroine, Kay, has to go up against in her gladiatorial battles to the death. I was drawn in by the imagery and action scenes. This one was interesting because it reveals more of the nightmarish state of affairs that the world has sunken into since the last great catastrophe. One gets the feeling that any sense of humanity or compassion has been eroded by a hunger for bread and circuses. At the same time, the reader is given just enough hope to wonder if there might be a means of escape for our protagonist. I definitely enjoyed this one!
Chibuzo: The Goblin Shark
Chibuzo: The Goblin Shark was most enjoyable and reminded me of Moby Dick with a science fiction twist. Out on the sea, a group of pirates struggle to make their way by plundering other ships. Here we are introduced to new perils of this post-apocalyptic world, such as strange underwater monsters and vengeful mutants. The characters introduced here are vibrant and entertaining; they really make the story what it is. I was particularly amused by the character of Rudolph, the boy-dolphin chimera. As always, the book is enlivened by elaborate and surreal artwork. I enjoyed this one and felt that it was a great addition to the Earth’s Final Chapter collection.
ARK Part 1
In Ark Part 1, we are introduced to the ARK resistance, a band of people dedicated to overthrowing the oppressive Planetary Council and establishing their own civilization among the stars. The story follows them along their journey as they attempt to overtake new territory and reach out to neighboring tribes. This installment was interesting because it shows us another side to the struggles that are taking place on Earth; it’s not just about the Planetary Council in this story. I also enjoyed it because it’s the first story in the series where we start to see some serious overlaps with the other stories. This is a compelling feature, because it reassures us that everything is taking place within the same universe. It also seemingly begins to set the entire series up for some sense of climax and catharsis. However, there are still clearly many more stories to be fleshed out. I look forward to seeing the next four books.
Hunter & His Hounds
Hunter & His Hounds tells the story of the Hunter that we encountered previously in the series. This terrifyingly brutal hunter sets out on a bloody campaign of terror, continuing the narrative that was left off at the end of Avinon. Since Avinon was my favorite character from the series, I found this installment to be particularly compelling. This story provided more overlap with the previous books of the series, which I think is one of its strengths because it is beginning to knit the entire series together. It gives the reader some hope that this overlap between the stories will continue to grow. The story was engaging and left me wanting to find out more!
Homestead Hunts is a dark dystopian tale set in a far corner of the Earth’s Final Chapter universe. In this society, the animal totem that characters are given at birth determines their social status. People with predator totems are free to hunt and cannibalize ‘prey’ during government-sanctioned hunts. The ensuing chaos is the plotline of the story, which serves as both an entertaining tale and poignant political satire. I was impressed with the author’s ability to draw the reader in and play with emotion in such a way that it made you empathize with characters. While the book provides some engaging adventure scenes, it also delves into the serious topics of social hierarchy and political reform. Definitely worth the read!
Kyo is a story of the dangers and political struggles that the world has faced after the Last War. It’s one of the few times in the series that we see any familiarity to our own world—the Japanese nation, which has taken to living in a massive underwater structure as a means of survival and safety. When the Japanese facility finds a wandering vessel, they capture it to discover a new society with a common distrust of the corrupt Planetary Council. The book deals with the political changes that are occurring in this post-apocalyptic world, along with the growing movement against the Planetary Council. The underwater city concept reminds me of a plan that Japanese engineers and designers have really proposed as a means of adapting to an evolving global climate. This story seemed like a natural extension of those real-life plans, which I felt was a really clever concept for a science fiction piece.
Point Mega gives us yet more hope that the days of the Planetary Council are numbered. It tells the story of Point Mega, where a family risks being torn apart by social issues and bureaucracy—a theme that hits close to home. One faction of the city wants to leave the phony freedom and security of Point Mega due to the injustices taking place; the other wants to silence the rebels. We’re introduced to three friends struggling to overcome these differences. Against the backdrop of all this, there’s an AI revolution taking place. The androids have all developed conscious awareness, achieving some type of an AI singularity that will take them to their own island base. This is always a fun topic to play with in science fiction, because it helps us think more creatively about the possibilities of our own technology.
Overall so far
Earth’s Final Chapter is a deeply imaginative sequence of vignettes from a distant future of post-apocalyptic devastation. These stories are linked by a common thread of people struggling to survive and make sense of this bizarre new global landscape that has been marred by catastrophic war and environmental devastation. While the reader gets the feeling that the Earth is beginning to heal, the Planetary Council, which oversees much of the world, exerts a false sense of security over their remaining citizens and keeps them from returning to the outside. Meanwhile, several different factions have managed to elude the Planetary Council, stirring up some nice conflict.
The series entertains many different futuristic technologies, such as laser weapons, cloaking devices, interplanetary travel, underwater cities, and conscious AI. I feel that there is an important lesson to be learned from the series about the historical progression of technology and how it can be used for both good and evil. I also think the series serves as a cautionary tale about our current capability to destroy ourselves and our planet. We need more of this terrifying reality in our fictions, because it helps to raise public awareness about such issues as environmental protection and nuclear disarmament.
I was consistently entranced by not only the immersive quality of the writing, but also the illustrations that went along with it. These images provided an emotional layer to the story that enhanced the entire experience. Maybe it’s just because I’m just so terrible at art, but I was honestly amazed by the capacity of the artists to render such complex and vivid images.
I highly recommend reading the books because they are entertaining and thoughtful. I look forward to seeing Earth’s Final Chapter progress as a series!