Book review: The Electric State

The Electric State

Simon Stålenhag (2018)

I can’t remember how I found out about Simon Stålenhag, probably during a browsing-down-the-rabbit-hole session. But it didn’t take me long to appreciate how talented he is and how well I react to his art.

In his third book, we follow Michelle and her “robot” Skip, journeying across the United States, towards the Pacific coast. A melancholic voyage in a gloomy world, where people, hooked on virtual reality devices, are barely human anymore, and remains of giant drones and battleships stand abandoned next to highways.

The Good: The drawing (duh!), but the story is very, very good as well. It gives much more meaning, more depth to each scene. The text elevates the drawing and vice versa.

The Bad: It’s not enough! I want more! MOAR!

I am truly amazed at Simon’s talent. The Sci-fi is top-notch and the themes of the story are very interesting, but the mesmerizing thing to me is how well he draws “life”: nature, lights, clouds, rain, etc.

Come on! it’s just magnificent even without those kick-ass cooling towers and weird people on rocks – credit Simon Stahlenhag

Not long ago I was crossing the Thames at night in London, it was raining, and on that bridge I had a wonderful view of skyscrapers in the distance, with all the red glows from the lights at the top, the reflections on the water, the boats, the neon signs, it was eerie and truly beautiful.

I sort of get of that same feeling while watching a drawing like this, which is very rare. It’s like Simon is able to is recreate nature’s beauty, and many of its subtleties, by choosing the right balance of color, of blurs and details.

A lot of times while catching the first glimpse of one of his pieces, you might say to yourself “Wait is that a picture?”, then by looking closely you notice it’s evidently not, but the overwhelming impression is, it feels so real. The piece is able to draw you in, and provoke a reaction, be it of awe, of curiosity, of fright and disgust, or any other. But it certainly doesn’t leave you cold.

I also bought the other two art-books Simon made, Tales from the Loop (recently turned into a TV series, I will probably watch it but only after finishing the book), and Things from the Flood, which I sadly have to wait until July to receive, because it’s being re-published I think.

Visit the website, watch the show, buy his books, give Simon a lot of MONHAY so he can continue to make great art!

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