Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Transmetropolitan: Trends taken to their illogical limit

I'm not usually one to read graphic novels, its not something I'm snobbish about though so once in a while I'll pick up a series someone has recommended and give it a shot. This tends to mean that I get to comics about a decade after everyone else has read them. So, Transmetropolitan, I finally found out about you.

Transmetropolitan is a story about an investigative journalist, the last investigative journalist, Spider Jerusalem. Set in what amounts to a post singularity world, news has essentially become a way of legitimising press releases, and reporting inane man on the street stories.

Its a sublime, if incredibly rude, piece of futurism, taking into account many of the trends which we are already seeing, and the possibly results of technologies which are currently on the drawing board.

The book explores the trends we currently see in journalism, albeit taken to wild extremes. Even now we're increasingly seeing news outlets religated to the role of reproducing press releases with little critical analysis. Scandal continues, and investigative journalism has its place, but it seems that the quick wins are here to stay.

I always try and think of it in terms of stories like Watergate, or 60 Minutes investigation of big tobacco. Both stories involved journalists taking months out of their regular routine, to investigate stories which were essentially speculative, albeit quite important. I wonder if any journalist could turn around to an editor now and ask for months off to go and chase something which could turn out to be nothing.

Anyway, its a fun read, so go and read it, futurism, steampunk, philosophy and other good things. What more could you want?

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