Valley of the Silk Sky: The Long Run: Part Two

illus. by Dylan Edwards. 60p. Amazon/CreateSpace. Apr. 2018. pap. $15. ISBN 9781986899864.
Gr 7 Up-The second installment of Edwards's self-published queer webcomic is an episodic journey into a unique, nature-based science fiction world. At the end of Part 1, Razi (a brown-skinned human) sent Hali (a being known as a Daraz) on a dangerous mission to retrieve a serum to cure Razi's wolfcat fever. Rather than start there, this sequel introduces Chadsen, a trans human who is searching for the lost journals of a scientist named Alta. Following a lead, xe makes plans to scout out its potential location in one of the red cities. Meanwhile, Hali returns alive from xer mission without the serum (xe was distracted by a group of humans). The pair risk going back to the waystation, but there's no serum to be found. And the place isn't as abandoned as it initially looked. Edwards's combination of gouache backgrounds with marker-drawn foregrounds results in vivid contrast. After the final chapter, a few short sentences offer a teaser of what's to come in the subsequent volume. None of the beings have a concept of gender and use xe and xer pronouns to describe everyone—a baseline that effectively (and satisfyingly) normalizes queerness. Unfortunately, the world-building feels slim without the appendixes that are included in the web version, and the story ultimately suffers as a complete piece.
VERDICT Though this title has a fascinating concept, it may have trouble finding a wide audience. An additional purchase.-Alec Chunn, Eugene Public Library, OR

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