The Hard Tomorrow is a quick and scary read. As the title suggests, this Eleanor Davis graphic novel is set in a possible near-future America.
If you think the United States is in trouble in the Trump era, just imagine what life would be like under President Mark Zuckerberg. Or, as the many protesters who oppose him call him, Zuck — which rhymes with the f-word.
In a number of ways, the setting reminds me of the future Margaret Atwood sets out in her landmark 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. This is a time and place in which roving drone death squads seek out dissidents who live off the grid in the countryside and assassinate them without due process.
But Davis suggests some things — such as the mysteries of the human heart — never change, regardless of how much technology evolves. People still get jealous. Husbands still try to goof off behind the backs of their wives. The birth of an innocent child can still stop time.
Davis takes current trends in politics and social media and shows how the two worlds might collide in days to come in unexpected ways. She suggests that the individuals who have been written off as being paranoid are actually the only ones with a full grasp of the facts.
You may enjoy this book, published by Montreal’s Drawn and Quarterly, for the writer-illustrator’s mix of smooth and jagged lines, which evoke a late-career Frank Miller.
I have one suggestion, though: Why don’t creative people get together and call for a moratorium on dystopian sci-fi narratives for the time being? We have seen so many of them on the silver screen, on TV, in the pages of novels and graphic novels, they are fast becoming a narrative crutch.
How about, for a change, we concentrate on utopian visions?
If you want an idea of what that might look like, check out Canadian John Byrne’s work using the characters and settings from Star Trek television shows and movies in graphic-novel form. He demonstrates how tension and drama can be created in a setting that depicts an ultimately positive view of the universe.