Thursday, July 13, 2006

Review: The Omega Project

Download the story from the Fully Booked website.

Alright, I'm down to my last review, and I'm rushing a bit because I'm keenly curious to read what Sean has to say. I don't want to cheat by peeking ahead. We're not ego-tripping in any way, we're just bringing to bear our tastes against the judges' selections. Besides, who's reading us, anyway?

Onward, then....

I read "The Omega Project" three times, an honor usually reserved for philosophy and science books. I couldn't quite grasp what was going on. I know I'm not that smart, but when I have to go through a story three times, it usually doesn't bode very well. Nevertheless, I persisted because there's something quite appealing about the concept.

I'm not quite sure I get everything yet, so here's my synopsis: the story revolves around a race of intelligent Alpha cockroaches on which scientists are conducting research. Apparently, these cockroaches hold some secret to survival against radiation brought about by nuclear weapons. Omega is some sort of super-cockroach from which all cockroaches descend, and this is the object of the quest. Did I get it right? I don't know.

The story runs on two parallel lines: one from the point-of-view of the scientists who are conducting the research, and the other from that of the Alpha roaches who are fighting a losing battle against humans and non-intelligent Beta cockroaches. This is where I have my first difficulty. I don't quite know what's going on.

There are additional difficulties that the story poses for me, following the two levels on which the story happens.

First, the scientists are bickering like junior high students in a love/hate relationship. Their one-upmanship is quite annoying to read.

Second, the cockroaches don't read like cockroaches at all. The author frequently refers to the cockroaches' hands, but cockroaches don't have hands! Same thing with the references to stomach, instead of thoraxes. Given this propensity, the roaches read more like humans than insects. I don't know if this is the intended effect.

As I said, there's some appeal in the concept of the story. I'm just not quite sure what the story is all about.

But then again, I'm jest an idjit.


  1. are you going to proceed to the comics or just do the prose? wish i had time to create my own reviews but have no time to write.

  2. here's my share of comic critiques for the FB event..

  3. I floundered around the human-like actions of the cockroaches for quite a while before the possibility hit me: The sentient cockroaches are actually humans transformed into roaches by a past incident (maybe the mention of Hiroshima at the start of the story). That would explain why their emotions, habits and structures mirror those of humans, and that would make the story's ending far more tragic than originally written. Maybe the story highlights the irony that humans are far less "human" than these cockroaches were.

    Then again, maybe I'm just filling in a lot of imaginary blanks here. Maybe the author just didn't think that far ahead. Who knows, I suppose.

  4. Thanks, Comicritique. That should make Anonymous happy. I'll do a quick run later. Not in-depth, just the ones I like.

    Sean: following that theory, why do they have Indian names and not Japanese names? Or were they Indian immigrants to Japan who got swept up in the Bomb?

    Yes, I got the idea that they used to be people. 'Twas hinted as much in the story. But...but...too many blanks.

  5. I never bothered to read any of the Prose finalists, so I'm glad you guys are writing reviews for them. I'll still try to get my own copy when Fully Booked come up with the compilation :)