Saturday, December 6, 2008

"The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars" won the White Dwarf Award in the 1950s

Cartoonist and scribe Chris Ware appears to have created a brilliant piece of science fiction in Acme Novelty Library #19 (October 2008), the latest installment of his ongoing graphic novel featuring character Rusty Brown.

The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars,” the first chapter in #19 and a "faux-SF" work, is “a disturbing little story about a pair of couples who are sent to Mars to establish a settlement." Written by W. K. Brown, Rusty's father and “a previously marginal figure in the world of speculative fiction, Brown’s widely anthologized first story,
The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars,’ garnered him instant acclaim and the coveted White Dwarf Award for Best New Writer when it first appeared in the pages of Nebulous in the late 1950s, but his star was quickly eclipsed ..."

Scott Cederlund, a real-world reviewer, declared "The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars" "is like an old Robert Heinlein juvenile science fiction story filtered through Ware’s own comic worldview. ... Set up in a 1950’s sci-fi pastiche, Ware’s story feels like a classic sci-fi tale as the astronauts split into couples with the idea of being the new Adam and Eves of Mars. This being a Chris Ware book, the isolation leads to self doubt, loneliness and jealousy as the quartet is split apart ...”

Richard Gehr of The Village Voice concluded Ware's W. K. Brown is
"just a dysfunctional fanboy, in the end, all the more hopeless for having maintained his popcult obsessions far too long into balding middle age.” Gehr suggests that “For extra credit, compare and contrast the amputations and failed space mission of Brown's story with Jonathan Lethem's heartbreaking and beautiful hard-SF short story, ‘Lostronaut,’" which was published recently in The New Yorker.

Pictured above: The cover of the fictitious 1950s sci-fi magazine Nebulous, depicting a scene from “The Seeing Eye Dogs of Mars."

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