It’s always a delight to read graphic novels; they restore my faith in the everlasting life of the print-and-picture world. Science Fiction by Joe Ollmann (Conundrum Press) is about a high school biology teacher named Mark—a rational, well-meaning guy who suddenly has a memory of alien abduction. This repressed memory is triggered one evening when he and his long-time girlfriend, Susan, rent a science fiction film called Taken at Night. ( Just as a point of interest, that film doesn’t really exist, or if it does, it sure ran under my radar.)
The rest of the story is essentially a mystery, and one that doesn’t get solved: Did Mark really have an experience with UFOs, or is the poor guy suffering a mental breakdown? He skips going to work, spends hours on the internet looking for like-minded people, and lets his personal grooming go to the dogs. That is a mental breakdown, right? In an afterword, Ollmann makes a few comments about his book, such as, “I’m aware that it probably contains glaring errors and omissions and probably does not reflect the present state of UFO-believer protocol, so I apologize in advance.”
It’s both anticlimactic, and a sad sign of the times, when authors feel they must beg the reader’s pardon in order to fend off crank responses. I noticed only one “glaring error or omission,” and it was not related to abductions per se: in the middle of the story, when Mark cannot face going back to work, there is a reference to Susan calling in sick for him. There is no previous mention of this detail, and there probably should be, as it’s a pivotal point in the rapidly moving plot. We need all the coordinates we can get, to prepare us for Mark and Susan’s harrowing journey.