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Image's Faction Paradox By Brian Jacks
Whether you're a fan of hardcore science fiction, off-kilter period pieces or dystopian literature in the vein of 1984 and Brave New World, Image Comics has something that'll probably get your pretty dang excited: British Sci-Fi writer Lawrence Miles' FACTION PARADOX is coming to comics this August in an all-new ongoing series overseen by the author himself.
Faction is set in the Dr. Who universe.
For comic book fans unfamiliar with Miles' work, he has a literary career that includes groundbreaking novels Alien Bodies, Interference and The Adventuress of Henrietta Street for BBC Books, plus Dead Romance and Down for Virgin Publishing. His short story "Grass" -- which is tangentally tied to Faction Paradox -- appeared in Best Fantasy of the Year: 2001. In addition to novels, Miles has written for computer games such as Simisle and Azrael’s Tear. He’s currently serving as editor for the upcoming Faction Paradox novel series, and is busy writing the debut novel for the line, This Town Will Never Let Us Go, due out in September 2003.
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Miles previously debuted Faction Paradox in a string of science-fiction novels from BBC Books, chiefly Alien Bodies (BBC Books, Nov. 1997) and the two-part Interference (BBC Books, Aug. 1999). In Sept. 2002, Mad Norwegian Press published Faction Paradox: The Book of the War, a guidebook to the Faction universe.
"FACTION PARADOX has a five-year history in science-fiction novels, but there’s not a lick of pre-knowledge required for the comic book series," said series editor Lars Pearson. "Not a drop. I need to say that until I’m blue in the face. Everyone -- longtime readers and newbies -- will start from the same point. If anyone reads the first issue and is confused, I’ll drive a nail into my hand."
Miles claims that FACTION PARADOX's literary history has impacted the tone -- if not the content -- of the comic, however, insofar as that: "FACTION PARADOX comes from the old school that thinks comics are really just a more dynamic way of doing literature, rather than being a way to do boring, poxy MTV on the printed page. This comic is, quite definitely, the geeky kid in the neighborhood. It doesn’t have a skateboard and it doesn’t have any cool super-powers. It reads a lot and it wants to grow up to build whole worlds with its bare hands. Er... why do I now feel like saying ‘nyah nyah nyah-nyah nyah'?"
What exactly is FACTION PARADOX about, though?
Simply put, it tells the tale of a group of time terrorists -- Faction Paradox -- who are trying to subvert the whole of history to their own ends. In short, the Faction’s involved in a power struggle with other time traveling organizations and powers, each of them seeking to usurp the timeline and one-up their opponents.
"Faction Paradox and its rivals aren’t interested in dominating territory," says Pearson, "They’re trying to conquer history. Imagine that for a moment -- a conflict between time-active groups across the whole of space-time. It begs the question if anyone can really win this battle, since each organization can simply travel back in time and retroactively undo its defeats. I mean, the ‘new’ formula of Coke would be the first thing to go."
The comic series opens in 1774, when embassies from various groups -- the colonial Americans, the Prussians, etc. -- are trying to win favor from King George III. Faction Paradox is also present, trying to get a toehold in King George’s court, because whomever controls the late 1700s will control a lot of history.
"The first FACTION PARADOX storyarc, certainly, is set across the span of the War of the Revolution," explains Miles, "and that's an incredibly important time for the western world. Obviously it’s the period that births the US, but at the same time you’ve got Kings and Popes dying in mysterious circumstances, at least one monarch losing his mind and various bizarre cults becoming fashionable all over the planet. By 1774, history’s coming apart at the seams. Things from outside history get in, and they’re strange and they’re worrying and they’re not entirely human."
Pearson adds the Faction has a distinct advantage in this conflict: "They’re complete bastards. I say that even though their rivals are often worse. Even so, the Faction wanders through history like a New Orleans-style voodoo cult, quietly eliminating anyone who gets in their way. Whereas the Faction’s (for now) unseen rivals actually do follow the Laws of Time, the Faction’s got no such restraint. Hell, they’re mostly hoping the other groups will massacre each other, then swoop in and claim whatever spoils they can find.
"It’s also fair to say that everyone -- Faction Paradox, the colonial Americans, etc. -- starts out the comic series thinking they’re in complete control. But of course, that notion quickly goes to hell, leading to a frothy bloodbath in just a few issues."
If it sounds like FACTION PARADOX is incredibly ambitious in scope, Miles couldn't be more pleased.
"FACTION PARADOX is, basically, a great big story," Miles explains. "There aren’t enough great big stories in comics these days. Everything’s going for that ‘cool’ angle, everybody wants to be like The Matrix and have people in shades running down neon-lit subway tunnels in Tokyo. Or something. Whereas FACTION PARADOX is... well, actually, now I’ve said that, I’m going to have trouble making it sound better than people in shades running down neon-lit subway tunnels in Tokyo. But crucially, it’s a great big story. You can think of it as an epic fantasy, like The Lord of the Rings, but with its roots in the real world and without the camp elves. It’s about history, it's about the way the world got this way and it's about bone-faced things from outside time. Which would make me read a comic, anyway."
In addition to the comics series, Mad Norwegian will launch an ongoing Faction Paradox novel line in September 2003, which occurs at various points throughout time and space. A variety of British novelists are slated to write the series, which will publish quarterly.
For now, though, the comics are the primary concern and Pearson's betting that they'll have a huge impact on any comics fan that enjoys a lavish, intellectual read.
"Mark my words," says Pearson about Miles’ proven talent as a novelist, "Lawrence Miles is going to quickly become the next Mark Millar, Warren Ellis or any other ultra-great British comic writer you’d care to mention."
FACTION PARADOX #1, written by Lawrence Miles with artwork by Jim Calafiore (pencils), Peter Palmiotti (inks) and Paul Mounts (colors) is scheduled to arrive in stores in August 2003.