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Harlan Ellison's 7 Against Chaos Paperback – July 8, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ferociously intelligent and extremely ambitious, this graphic novel adapts the format of Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven to space opera: a wildly diverse assortment of characters must work together to save vulnerable bystanders. As usual, the saviors are outcasts—a renegade robot, a despised mutant, a brutalized slave, etc., while the potential victims are the bulk of callous humanity. To avert a shift in realities that is causing people to burst into flames or transform into snakes, the crew of misfits must travel far back into prehistory, to the time when mammals and reptiles fought to dominate the young Earth. The art by Chadwick (Concrete) differentiates the many characters, adding clean details and exemplary storytelling. The book really comes to life toward the end when the characters must argue against a lizard-man's coldly logical plans to obliterate human history. As in much of his work, Ellison's rage at humanity's many sins must be balanced by his grim, desperate hope for our potential. A throwback to both classic SF and classic comics, this graphic novel updates both just enough to make it a real treat. (July) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Ferociously intelligent and extremely ambitious..."—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Harlan Ellison:

"[Ellison has] the spellbinding quality of a great nonstop talker, with a cultural warehouse for a mind."—The New York Times Book Review

"It's long past time for Harlan Ellison to be awarded the title: 20th century Lewis Carroll."—Los Angeles Times

"One of the great living American short story writers."—Washington Post Book World

"One thing's for sure: the man can write."—Booklist

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics (July 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401245552
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401245559
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.4 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,586,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jonna E. L. on July 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first half of this graphic novel gives us some good set up with some time devoted to each of the seven. My only complaint there was that the text boxes were really chatty to the point of violating the show-don't-tell rule.

The second half, in which they actually go on the mission, feels simultaneously very padded and very rushed. For example, There are several times (in a row) where the characters get attacked by something. the threat is introduced and dealt with in only two or three pages so there isn't enough time to build tension. At the same time, these treats have very little effect on the overall plot to the point where I could have skipped those ten pages and missed next to nothing. Another example was how, immediately after that, the heroes break into the villain's stronghold only to be chased out five pages later without learning a thing and then almost immediately finding another way in. What was the point of that?

The character development was also really bad in this part of the book. There were several character deaths, but only one really seemed worthwhile while the rest felt cheap and pointless. We are told that two characters "loved [each other] in a special way", but they only really have one and a half conversations in the entire book, in neither of which do they discuss their "love". There are two or three times where characters gain/develop powers out of nowhere because the plot demands it. "By the way, this character is telepathic and that's how he knows about the bad guy. No, there is no possible way we could have mentioned this when we introduced the character fifty pages ago."

Honestly, I think this whole thing may have worked better in a different format. A conventional novel would probably have been able to give everyone and everything enough room to properly develop.

To the book's credit, I really liked the ending.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Tucker VINE VOICE on August 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
After following both Ellison and Chadwick's careers for decades I had hopes that this would be a match made in graphic paradise.
That didn't happen.
What happened is a reticence to even finish the book. Paul, who should have reveled in this story seems too often to be struggling with the art. Some of it reflects his best and other parts just look ...off, as if he wasn't sure how to carry the narrative or even design the panel sequence. All his neat little details are there but, while aesthetically pleasing, they didn't make me feel too much better about anything else.
Harlan's narrative is sometimes too explanatory and then runs the gamut to oddly abrupt. The clever wit falls flat, it feels added on- like so many things it interrupts the story's flow. Harlan Ellison's work has always been varied but that's what made him so readable. He's an author affectively writing a new tale every time he sits down at the typewriter. It's a trait readers have come to like and many other authors should appreciate.
So, I'm puzzled with this resulting effort. Both are normally the high water mark in the storytelling department, and to be sure, this is NOT a bad read. It could chastise myself for having my expectations too high, but that wasn't the case. That's because both men can be varied in their delivery and style, which means they don't always click with a broad audience, but they excel much more often than the miss the mark. It would be rude of me to assume they even missed their mark here. There's something both familiar and a little exotic about this story and that gave me hope.
Still, from the first page it was off kilter.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alt on July 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Earth has been plagued by a series of disasters: people have spontaneously combusted or transformed into snakes, a harbor changed into a desert, a mountain of ice appeared from nowhere. To save the Earth from crisis, high level computers have directed a robed man to assemble a team from various colonies around the solar system. A slave who is a female version of Edward Scissorhands, a faceless cat burglar, a woman who will can shoot fire from her fingers, a fellow who has been reengineered as an insect, a robot, and a technological whiz with telepathic tendencies join the robed man to "fight for the fabric of reality itself."

Harlan Ellison has given us a time travel story combined with a "humanize the robot" story combined with a some superheroism stories combined with a couple of love stories combined with a quest/adventure story combined with an alien invasion story, all wrapped around a good versus evil story, with evil personified by someone or something named Erisssa. And, of course, it's all ultimately an homage to Seven Samurai. You can't fault Ellison for lacking ambition.

Although the story is entertaining -- and the particular way in which Ellison combines the alien invasion with time travel is innovative -- I can't say that 7 Against Chaos resonated with me in the same way that Ellison's best work has done over the years. In fact, the authorial voice doesn't sound like Ellison to me, which makes sense, since Paul Chadwick not only did the artwork but wrote much of the dialog.
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