Jack Vance’s The Moon Moth
by Humayoun Ibrahim. Foreward by Carlo Rotella (
Finished: Jun. 29,
First Published: May 22, 2012
Publisher: First Second Books
Genre: graphic novel, science fiction, mystery
First sentence: “Ser Thissell? The Moon Moth before me possibly expresses Ser Edwer Thissell?”
Publisher’s Summary: A classic science fiction tale finds new life in this graphic novel adaptation.
A fascinating blend of murder mystery and high-concept science fiction, The Moon Moth has long been hailed as one of Jack Vance’s greatest works. And now this intricately crafted tale is available in glorious full color as a new graphic novel.
Edwer Thissell, the new consul from Earth to the planet Sirene, is having all kinds of trouble adjusting to the local culture. The Sirenese cover their faces with exquisitely crafted masks that indicate their social status. Thissell, a bumbling foreigner, wears a mask of very low status: the Moon Moth.
Shortly after Thissell arrives on Sirene, he finds himself embroiled in a an unsolved murder case made all the more mysterious by the fact that since everyone must always wear a mask, you can never be sure who you’re dealing with.
Acquired: Received a Review Copy from First Second Books.
Reason for Reading: I love science fiction short stories.
This is the adaptation of a short story by Jack Vance and since I had not read the story in question I first did so before reading this graphic novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was quite pleased to find it such a clever murder mystery set in a foreign, alien atmosphere. This novel starts with the reproduction of an article from “The New York Times” magazine written about Vance and his being a genre writer and how it affected his success as a writer. This is an interesting article but much better suited to those who are already fans of Vance. This is my first introduction to the author, I have of course heard of him but never read him before.
The graphic is well done and stays true to the original. It is quite an easy story to adapt since after the opening scenes the story is very much dialogue driven making it perfect for graphic adaptation. The author has managed to keep true to the story and even use original text in some parts. What is harder, is to convey this story visually as it is a very absurd society and Ibrahim has shown that well in conveying the musical singing everyone speaks in and the use of bright bold colours. This representation does take away from the cleverness of the solving of the actual mystery though. The mystery is extremely compelling and its logical solution is astute. The twist ending is fun and works very well in the graphic adaptation. This graphic is not as good as the original story which I would give full 5/5, but it is a great adaptation and if it encourages anyone to read the original story then its homage has been successful. I know I will read Vance in the future.