Mooncop by Tom Gauld, published through Drawn+Quarterly, shows a genuine look at realistic science fiction. This is not to say that it is some in-depth examination of possible technology, but instead Mooncop shows what life would be like if a great scientific goal, such as colonizing the Moon, were met. How would that impact the everyday? In the case of a police officer living in a barely-populated lunar colony, life is oddly familiar.
Like any small-town policeman, the protagonist of Mooncop knows everyone by name. Whether it is a teenager prone to trespassing in search of a little fun, the old woman who needs help seeking out her lost dog who walks around the lunar surface in a giant hamsterball, or the modular apartment block manager, the setting of Mooncop will be well familiar to anyone from a close-knit community. This quietness is taken to the literary extreme as they are living on the Moon, all confined to small environmental domes separated by vast expanses of gray rock. Not much happens; in fact, less and less as more and more folks move back to Earth.
Intertwined with this sense of otherworldly isolation is a flair for comment on the corporate way of the world. At one point, the officer’s apartment is moved downward as empty apartment modules are moved out. It makes sense through some scope of efficiency, but he regrets his loss of view from the eighth floor. The changing world has its benefits, too, as his favorite doughnut place, a vending machine, is upgraded to a full-service cafe, even though the officer notes, “I never see anyone else here.” Still, statistically, it is the most-often used dispensary in town. Statistics shine, too, as the officer is praised for resolving 100% of local crimes, all zero of them.
Perhaps the clearest sci-fi in Mooncop is seen through its robot supporting characters. They are well-spoken and nearly human in personality, although they follow orders without question, just doing what they are told. While marvels of programming, they truly come only to the level of someone putting in the hours at work until time to go recharge.
Things may seem dull on the Moon, but the officer has time to pause and reflect on the beauty all around him. One of the older residents, after talking about colonizing the Moon alongside her husband, states, “Whatever were we thinking? It seems rather silly now.” The officer replies that he thinks it was wonderful. A skillfully placed panel shows the moonscape with the glowing Earth hanging in the star-speckled sky.
The heavily etched and crosshatched art of Mooncop is very fitting to its pervasive themes of ennui and yet finding beauty in the everyday. Just flipping through the pages will only give a view of soft grays and blues, but taking a moment to pause and reflect on the otherworldly beauty gives the reader a taste of something often missed in our science-factual earth: peace.