Blue Hour by Caruso and Cicconi

Blue Hour falls into the category of colonization sci fi that closely mirrors the Westward expansion of white settlers in the United States during the 1800s. Misunderstandings, broken treaties, and violence are hallmarks of this type of storyline. Unfortunately, Caruso takes a very simplistic approach to the plot that undermines any attempt at gravitas. Combined with cartoony potato shaped people and children’s storybook aliens, I didn’t find much to really grab me with this title.

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After a devastating ‘resource war’ on Earth, a former soldier makes a deal with aliens to allow a small group to settle on their planet. Years later, mistrust in the human colony spills over onto the aliens and causes schisms in both civilizations. When the colony founder is murdered, all pretense of order begins to break down and it is man versus man versus aliens – with only a few grounded souls to try to find order in the chaos.

I’ll be honest – the story feels as facile as the art: this was Futurama without the humor. The ‘aliens’ were just silly, acted like normal humans (if a bit stupider), and the colonists weren’t much better. Despite probably having to have made a hard living tending the soil, most colonists looked like potatoes – beer bellied and balding with the men fully covered yet the women wearing outfits resembling bikinis. It was really odd and nothing really felt thought through or made much sense. Let’s not go into the MacBethean greedy women preying on/manipulating the weak minded men.

Most of the action seems to take place in a bar – with random bar fights that add nothing to the story. If anything, I couldn’t figure out why and certainly didn’t understand the dynamics of this ‘colony’ and why the people who were chosen ended up there. But then again, the story premise that a soldier believes there may be life out there in space one panel and then a few panels it is a couple of years later and he is randomly making a deal with aliens to go settle on their random planet. That was just lazy storytelling.

None of the character personalities made much sense and all spent most of the story underreacting or overreacting. And that’s just the humans – the alien culture fared much worse. Honestly, if I was a Native American, I’d be pretty damn upset about this book if the author was using American manifest destiny as an inspiration.

Admittedly, I was bored through much of this and the big ‘reveal’/twist at the end was underwhelming, to say the least. I honestly can’t recommend this book – not for the overly simple story and not for the potato people/cartoony alien artwork either. On the plus side, the cover is very indicative of the art inside and this is a self contained and completed story. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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