Dystopian stories are quite the rage since the Hunger Games series became popular. Tied together with the innate fears many of us of about being too tied to technology and the virtual world, our future can seem something beyond our control. In fact it may be controlled by corporations and advertisers more than any country or government. This is the future Omniscience explores.
It’s a little tough to summarize so I’ll share the blurb attached to the graphic novel:
“ ‘Omniscience’ is a sci-fi graphic novel recently published on tablets (comiXology app and Google Play). Its story is set in a hypothetical future where augmented reality has invaded our daily lives, thanks to contact lenses superimposing virtual characters into reality. One of these characters, Ingeborg, is particularly popular; she is like a second mother for generations of children, devoted and insightful. She is, however, disavowed by more and more of her subscribers – authorities suspecting her of being more harmful than beneficial to their well-being. This is what two teenagers are going to discover when they help a young fellow from their boarding school to find his parents, who abandoned him a few years earlier for an unknown reason…
The graphic novel, created by Belgian artist Christophe Bruchansky, sits halfway between dystopian novel and psychological drama. It invites the reader to reflect on the finalities of some of the social changes that we witness today, such as the virtualization of human interaction, its increasing documentation, and its use for commercial purposes.”
I found Omniscience a challenging read. There are a lot of ideas floating through it and it’s a lot to take in at points. It has the feel of an indictment of our attachment to the virtual world over the real world. Even children in the book may be taken away from their biological families to be raised in orphanages by the virtual mother figure Ingeborg, if it is found to be in the child’s best interest. Of course it’s Ingeborg who may make that decision. She is also an advertising platform and the world’s most successful one at that. The most trusted advisor in the world is used to hawk even something as mundane as sauces to her charges.
The writing seemed a little stilted initially but I suspect it may have been written in French first (the French version was published simultaneously) and translated to English. Once I realized that it read a little better. I have often had that issue with translated literature in any form. The story pulls you in from the start, however, even with this minor flaw. The art is lovely and very complementary to the text. It definitely tells the story along with the words.
I feel that I need to read this again to fully appreciate it, but it won’t be a chore. I enjoyed the story, the characters and the images. The thoughts it brought to mind were well worth pondering. This isn’t a lighthearted read but it’s not really dark either. It’s simply thought provoking. Which makes it extremely worthwhile.
I’m giving Ominiscience 4 out of 5 starts.
ComiXology link: http://www.comixology.com/
More info on Omniscience;
Here’s the trailer: