Saturday, February 11, 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen!
Today I present you...
A man trapped in a box!
In space!

SpaceBox by James (no last name given) is about Tad Bardeaux and he is drifting through space in an escape pod.

The box has got everything to keep Tad alive. It doubles as a hypersleep chamber which slows his aging down. He has food and water through some hamster feedtube, and he has an A.I. to talk too, which looks like a red dot of light. If you're thinking HAL, you're close. It's VAL.

For a fully featured box that practically gives him immortality, it lacks one thing: a window.

How Tad got into this situation is never explained, but I found it a fun, quick read.

The Rating

No one will help you... in space.

The Raves

I enjoyed the premise of the story. It's melancholy, because Tad is stuck where he is. It's also funny because he happlessly gets into strange situations and manages to come out of it intact while causing terrible things to happen.

Tad can't see out of his box and can only receive second-hand information from various sensors and his AI. In a way, he's almost entirely shut out from any outside stimuli. He doesn't know what's beyond the box. It's a separate reality that bubbles him.

In the first story, some space mollusks latch onto his drifting box. When a large spaceship comes out of nowhere, Tad thinks he's rescued, except that these folks only intend to salvage his pod so they can sell it as a mint-condition museum piece with Tad trapped inside. The mollusks turn out to be xenomorphs that devour the crew and inadvertently in the ensuing fight knock Tad back out into space. The ship self-destructs and Tad is sent hurdling into the void.

The first scenario is like Alien, but viewed from the narrow perspective of someone trapped in a box. It's darkly humorous, seemingly random, and existential, but it fits with the idea of being adrift through the vastness of space.

Later Tad runs into a giant generational spaceship through a telepathic-dream connection with it's captain. It arrives several hundred years later to devour a gas giant which Tad is trapped in (pulled in by gravity). Tad once again believes he's saved but ends up getting thrown back out into space.

I like the minimalist constraints the story has. Everything in Tad's world is there out of necessity -- he's fed through a tube, he's put into hypersleep to keep him alive, and he has an AI to help him interpret the void around him. Constraints, when followed, also force the author to be more creative in their storytelling, and I was curious what would happen next to Tad in his box.

I like how time passes in James' story and how it plays into the enormity of space travel. Tad drifts for light years, but he also hypersleeps for centuries at a time. When he wakes up an epoch could have passed by and yet he's still the same. I'd love it if future comics played on this idea more directly. Like, what if he was salvaged and put up in a museum, went to hypersleep while on the ship, and awoke hundreds of years later to find himself in the middle of a museum with people gawking at him, and then wake up hundreds of years later to find that world decimated by some apocalypse, you know, like the beginning of Futurama where we see Fry in the cryopod and outside we see the rise and fall of humanity on a fast-forward timelapse.

Oh, and back in college when I was studying computer science, I had to code Conway's game of life. So I particularly liked this comic below. :)

I liked that the game of life is mentioned in this comic. :)
Not really much of a game you can play, but it was fun setting up initial conditions and watching the simulating play out, and yes, like the comic, you can get into some stable states and even iterative ones where each generation of the cells manage to keep living. I also suppose there is some correlation to the idea of Tad hypersleeping through centuries and the Game of Life being played out as a set of rules simulated over vast amounts of cycles on a computer.

The Razzes

This is one of those comics where if you judge it by it's art, you might pass over it. The website and art are simple and minimalist looking. There's literally nothing about the comic that catches the eye and makes you want to stick around. That was my first reaction when I came to the site. It seems bare and the vastness of space. Maybe the website could be dressed up a bit to enforce that idea with maybe a simple repeating startfield background.

The minimalist motif fits the story though. We have only the things that keep Tad alive and the details that we need to see.

I wish the panels were bigger. There is a cool shot of a generational spaceship that I wish had been bigger so we could see it better.

There's some issues with perspective too. For a comic about a box, literally the escape pod is a box, I would have hoped that it was drawn with a better sense of perspective, but sometimes the box appears warped in non-perspective conforming ways. Space may not have an up, but at least when drawn it there should be some kind of horizon line so we can anchor a vanishing point to it and give it the correct perspective.

The Revue

If you're looking for a quick and simple sci-fi read, then I recommend Spacebox. The idea is intriguing and I enjoyed the entire archive.

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