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Saturday, April 25, 2009

This Week's Suspended Animation - Para

Para, published by Penny Farthing Press, 178 pages, $19.95.

Having reviewed for the Suspended Animation column for about 9 years, there have been a few books which, for one reason or another, have been placed on the back burner and seen to later than they deserved. One or two have simply become misplaced for a time in my disorganized glut. That was the unfortunate case with Para, from Penny Farthing Press.

Para is the story of a young woman re-finding herself. After years of resentment over her father’s death, and rejection of the idea of following in his footsteps as a scientist, Sara Erie embarks on an adventure which purposes to dispel the mystery behind her father’s demise. Ultimately, it also restores her desire to be like him.

I’ve never seen a creative team do such a great job of combining sci-fi elements with such an unnerving air of horror. Into a plot that focuses on a handful of scientists’ work with a groundbreaking particle accelerator, writer Stuart Moore injects some of the most unsettling and other-worldly elements in my recent memory of fiction-reading. He also creates interesting characters, and manipulates events in a way that, while not always surprising, manages to keep the reader’s attention and interest.

My only regret where this book is concerned is it’s use of multiple artists, resulting in a near-jarring transition for readers. While Pablo Villalobos, Claude St. Aubin and Frederico Zumel each render the characters and surroundings in competent fashion, Villalobos’ style possesses the most detail and realism, both of which are important in such a tale. I also believe him to be the best storyteller of the three. However, the artistic situation does not ruin this entertaining read by any stretch.

All things considered, Para is an achievement worthy of admiration, and is recommended for fans of science fiction, or emotionally evocative stories in general. It is recommended for teens and older readers. Find it at comics shops, or online retailers and auctions.

Review by Mark Allen