The Seventh Voyage: Star Diaries

Graphix/Scholastic/. Oct. 2019. 80p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780545004626.
Gr 4-8–Ijon Tichy is traveling through deep space when his ship’s rudder breaks. He realizes he’ll need two people to repair it, but he is alone. That is, until his ship enters a field of gravitational vortices that create time loops (which reverse time and duplicate the present), and he finds himself on a ship full of his own doppelgangers. If only he can convince another of his selves to cooperate, fixing the rudder will be simple. But tragically, and comically, all the Ijon Tichys do is argue with one another about everything from free will and the fixed nature of time to who gets the omelet and the last of the chocolate. This is a parody of paradoxical time travel, a deep space slapstick story, illustrated in delicate watercolors. The panels vary from full- and double-page layouts of dramatic cosmic scenes to multipaneled action shots that highlight the protagonist’s confusion and anxiety. Most pages have both descriptive explanations and occasional, well-placed speech bubbles, but the vocabulary and sentence structure of the text may be difficult for some readers—Lem often plays with words and writes elaborately and idiomatically, which can be a challenge to translate.
VERDICT A sly commentary on human social inadequacies that, depending on readers’ tastes and insight, will be either totally hilarious or a bit perplexing and tedious, since readers end up learning about the same events again and again, from different perspectives. A colorful introduction to a brilliant science fiction author—Lem’s visions of the future and Muth’s art are a perfect match

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