Starship Down – Justin Giampaoli, Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov & Sal Cipriano (Dark Horse)

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It seems that watching fourteen series of Ancient Aliens wasn’t a big old waste of time after all, as Justin Giampaoli found inspiration in the same pulp science fiction sources and pseudo historical “facts” for Starship Down as Giorgio Tsoukalos did for his aforementioned show. While the idea that extra-terrestrials, entities from other dimensions and time travellers visited Earth during pre-history isn’t exactly new, it’s a sub-genre of science fiction that I’m drawn to like a moth to a flame

The notion that we, as a species, given the vastness of the Universe, matter enough that someone, or something, else is inclined to take an interest in our development is, to me at least, both invigorating and endlessly fascinating.  And the impact that those visits might have had on our evolution and its course offer nearly unlimited story-telling opportunities and possibilities – which probably explains why my bookshelves are crammed with titles devoted to exploring the impact and effects of pre-historic first contact.     

Starship Down hits the ground running from the word go and ticks all of the relevant subject related boxes. Inexplicable discovery made in an incredibly remote location? Check. Said discovery being co-opted by a joint military and civilian taskforce that keeps everything on a need to know basis? Check. Plucky scientist who is obviously going to throw the whole thing into disarray with a world shattering discovery? Check.  A papal representative overflowing with disdain who dismisses any concepts that challenge his faith and belief system, trigger happy Russians, Neanderthals and a spaceship? Check, check, check and check.

Starship Down incorporates each and every one of these stereotypes into its plot while still maintaining a furious originality that’s kicked into hyper-drive by eye popping, sumptuously detailed artwork. In fact, the only thing that I don’t like about this book that hits all of the science fiction conspiracy thriller sweet spots is that it’s far too short. I would have loved to have seen Giampaouli draw the story out and explore the social and cultural impact that the discovery of the ship had on the world far more than he does, but that’s just a minor quibble as I always want more of a good thing. This book could easily become, and deserves to be, a bone fide cult classic. Kevin McCarthy was right. They’re already here…    Tim Cundle

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