Reviews

Happy Talk

Michael Hayward

Nathan W. Pyle’s Strange Planet (HarperCollins) began as a web comic on Instagram in February of last year. By May it had over two million followers. By November, a collection of Strange Planet comics was on the hardcover fiction bestseller list; a second volume is on the way. Impressive. The inhabitants of Nathan W. Pyle’s Strange Planet are vaguely humanoid life forms: roundish, blue-skinned aliens with perpetual smiles, whose activities are remarkably similar to those of humans here on Earth. They interact much as we do—except that these blue-skinned beings use an entirely different set of nouns and verbs. Instead of carpet, the floors of Strange Planet living rooms are covered with “foot fabric”; their smoke detectors are known as “hotdanger screamers.” Thanks (I think) to these linguistic innovations, Strange Planet appears to be a perfectly pleasant place to live: everybody seems to get along. In fact, the more time that I spent with the inhabitants of this wonderfully Strange Planet, the more I began to feel that our Earthling lives would be immeasurably improved if we began to adopt their manner of speech. How harmonious, surely, if selfies were known as “friendship documentation”! And what if we were to offer “sweet disks” to new neighbors—sorry: to new “proximity friends”—instead of cookies? Surely these modest adjustments to our language would lead us inevitably toward a state of blissful coexistence! With the inhabitants of Strange Planet as my role models, I find that I now view my world with complete equanimity. An example of the new me in action? Well, tomorrow morning I plan to put on a fresh pair of foot fabric tubes, and take my phial of Pustefix® to a local park. There, I’ll trap some carbon dioxide in ephemeral spheres (known to ordinary Earthlings as “blowing bubbles”). Join me! Together we can create a brave, new (and stranger) world.

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