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Lust For Life by Warren Ellis

1/04/2011. Contributed by Ewan Angus

Buy Transmetropolitan Book Two: Lust For Life in the USA - or Buy Transmetropolitan Book Two: Lust For Life in the UK

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Transmetropolitan Book Two: Lust For Life by Warren Ellis, Darrick Robertson and Rodney Ramos. pub: DC Comics. 144 page softcover. Price: $14.99 (US), $18.99 (CAN). ISBN: 0978-1-4012-2261-1.

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The first volume of ‘Transmetropolitan’ was something marvellous. It was something I could re-read over and over again. It had fantastic scenes and even better dialogue. Here’s an example:

‘My household appliance is on drugs. Horrible.’

It was just such a witty, brilliant opening to the series that I couldn’t wait for the next one.
How does the second volume start? With this:

‘Yesterday in the middle of the city, I saw a wolf turn into a Russian ex-gymnast and hand over a business card that read YOUR OWN PERSONAL TRANSHUMAN SECURITY
WHORE! STERILIZED INNARDS! ACCEPTS ALL CREDIT CARD to a man who wore trained attack cancers on his face and possessed seventy five indentured Komodo Dragons instead of Legs. And they had sex right in front of me. And six of the Komodo Dragons spat napalm on my new shoes.’

Marvellous! It’s the kind of sick twisted surrealism that I love in writing. It’s a thing of beauty. It’s Warren Ellis with a world all of his own that stands up as both Science Fantasy and as satire.

Within this second volume, the titular character, Spider Jerusalem, finds himself dealing with his assistant’s boyfriend turning himself into consciously aware fog and her subsequent departure to become a nun. This single issue deals with the divide between man and machine and poignantly asks where the line is. Of course, Spider delivers this question from a top of a robotically enhanced horse that doubles as a chariot taxi.

The second issue deals with the harrowing revival of cryogenically frozen human brains being re-bodied and then being shoved out into a world that they could never understand. It’s a terrifying look at how humanity would treat itself should cryogenics become a commonplace ideology, especially when fired up with Ellis’s scathing wit.

The third issue in the novel focuses primarily on reservations, places in which closed-off hyper-real versions of past cultures are allowed to thrive. They are seen as scientific places where the study of past cultures can be made through the eye of a microscope without the burden of time travel. They are also, in the true capitalist way, the way The City runs, tourist attractions where people can take trips to past societies. Fancy a few days in Mayan Mexico? Fine, off you go. Just don’t have sex with anyone.

Throughout the issues, the main focus is upon Spider’s marvellous journalism. The thought boxes are replaced with the ramblings of his column. It’s like Hunter S. Thompson on even more drugs than he was on originally. Never though does the writing feel contrived or weak, Ellis executes every sentence like a gunshot, full of poignancy and journalistic venom. He manages to take the future as his starting point and rip into our own society. Of course, not once does this affect the story.

The subsequent issues deal with the return of Spider’s ex-wife (sort of), an assassination attempt, a rabid, mentally aware police dog who froths for revenge and a cult who refuse to have any human contact whatsoever.

Throughout ‘Lust For Life’, Ellis and artist Darrick Robertson imbue a taste of the ridiculous into a stories that are all intricate and totally serious. Using the squint-eyed glasses of Spider as our viewpoint, they take us into a world that is both overly decadent and extremely depraved. It is brilliant. Oh and there’s an explosive assassin kid with no head.

Ewan Angus

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This book has 43 votes in the sci-fi charts

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