Reaching for the Stars
Created by ggrihn on 3/23/2018 6:52:10 PM

Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 written and drawn by Alex Alice

Reviewed by Gregory G.H. Rihn, Steampunk Chronicle Literary Editor

Castle in the Stars

Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 is the 2017 English language release of a 2014 French graphic novel, Le Chateau des Etoiles-1869: La conquete de l’espace, written and drawn by Alex Alice, English translation by Anne and Owen Smith.

The protagonist of this beautifully drawn story is Seraphin, the son of a scientist mother, Claire, and engineer father, Archibald. Claire is lost in an ill-fated attempt to prove the existence of “aether” –here, an energy source found in the upper atmosphere. Claire has been missing for a year, when Archibald receives a letter from a mysterious source, advising him that his wife’s journal has been found, and directing him to a meeting in Bavaria.

In 1869, the Kingdom of Bavaria is still ruled by “mad” Ludwig, although Ludwig is under pressure from within and without: the sovereignty of Bavaria is threatened by the ambition of Prussia; and Ludwig’s personal sovereignty is being threatened by his scheming Ministers. Ludwig’s people are dissatisfied with him due to his obsession with his fantastic castles. Now, he has his sights on a higher goal--.

The writing, at least as translated, is amusing and straightforward. (I don’t know where “Gory Gods of Gaul” as an exclamation came from. The French are notorious for some elaborate expressions, but this is a new one on me--.) The art is beautiful, with both a fine Steampunk sense of design, and a mastery of the Gothic sensibilities of Ludwig’s Bavaria. The color palette is airy and cool, giving the work a dreamlike air.

I was really taken with this work and am adding it to my personal collection. The second book, Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King, will be released in English on September 4th, 2018.


Castle In The Stars: The Space Race of 1869 at Amazon

Castle In The Stars: The Moon-King

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