Couplers #2: Empty Mansions

Couplers #2: Empty Mansions (2008)
by Realbuzz Studios | Thomas Nelson
128 Pages - Full Color [ Science Fiction / Teen Fiction ]

Story and Creation - Studio Sakai

Publisher summary: Now seasoned pilots, Adam, Dawn, and the Tech Corps are involved in a seemingly endless series of battles. But pilot life does not dissolve family connections as Dawn painfully learns when a loved one mysteriously nears death. Then the commander reveals a deep space discovery, forever altering the ship's future and very existence!

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 14 September 2008

The second volume of Couplers made me realize again just how short they are: the plot barely covers what would be a half-hour episode of a television series. Fortunately it is constructed for that purpose and fits well, but the series will take a long time to go anywhere. Regardless, readers who liked the first volume will probably not be disappointed as it takes at least one small step.

Though one of the adults gets some character development, most of the younger characters seem essentially the same. This is unfortunate, but hopefully only because they are mostly involved with the single plot event of this volume. Our two main characters do get some of the focus and their conversation about the footrace wasnít nearly as forward as I was expecting from how it began. Everything resolved a little too neatly and moral-laden for my taste, but it could have been worse.

Readers also get a look at the mechs that will presumably play a major role in the series. Though this makes the title symbolism clearer, Iím not sure that I like the element of two pilots having to work in tandem. For one, I donít think it actually makes sense on a technical level, as technological advances generally give greater control and efficiency. But more importantly, itís asking for all kinds of cheesy working together moments.

Mechs have always been an utterly ridiculous concept, but Couplers treats them slightly better than normal. While the human form is still a poor model, it doesnít suffer from structural problems when used in space. They also had the decency to address obvious difficulties of physics by technobabbling the kind of material that would be required to create such structures.

This volume does begin to address the spiritual side of the series, actually with a fair bit of subtlety and without being overbearing. It remains to be seen whether the mansions symbolism will be developed further, but itís a decent place to start. Oddly, this comes along with some generic mysticism with the protagonistís grandfather. Iím willing to let this go, given that old people and half dead people generally get to do inexplicable things, even in science fiction.

Post-volume notes continue and remain interesting. The fact that a Christian graphic novel is quoting Heinlein is a positive sign for any genre, but even better when it comes to science fiction. They also quote Wikipedia in a fairly bizarre way, which might bug anyone who has had to write research papers. Verifiability and peer-review arenít unimportant when it comes to science. The latter, at the last, should also be utilized as much as possible when it comes to fiction.

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