Thursday, April 15, 2004

Manga — Planetes

As a break from a form which in this part of the world seems to be composed of the kawaii shoujo stuff, weird romance and strange takes on western fantasy out of D&D (with or without gratuitous giant robots), the quiet little SF manga Planetes stands out in refreshing contrast. It's a connected set of hard-ish SF stories from a plausible tech 2070s. Nothing apocalyptic (at least in the first volume), dealing with incidents in the life of a team of orbital garbage collectors, whose job is vital in keeping earth orbit space clear enough to fly in - a very real problem, even now.

If I had to try and answer the question "but what is it like?", I think the nearest thing I could compare it with would be to say it is a bit like what a young Arthur C. Clarke would have written, if he were writing it now - think of A Fall of Moondust or Earthlight.

P.S. This very day, there's a story about this topic on the BBC news site - but it was starting to be a concern 20-odd years back when I was working in the satellite business, with papers putting us within an order of magnitude of the amount of junk that would cause a runaway cascade of junk-spawning colissions.