Zellgert (The Adventures of Randy trilogy) draws on personal experience with loneliness and depression to craft an emblematic and relatable science fiction journey. The story centers on Stewart, a man who lived in a world without color. Everything was white, with only the black outlines showing edges and corners that were anything other than white. That was until a little girl, running from a policewoman, slipped an orb into Stewart’s pocket. It wasn’t until he was home and pulled the orb out of his pocket that he found it lit up the world in color. Thus begins Stewart’s mission of keeping color in his life and fighting off the frightening forces eager to see everything vibrant drained away.
Stewart floats through outer space in a space suit, facing scary and dangerous figures who want him to fail and give up on himself. Zellgert introduces evils like “Iniquitous” and “Dr. Despondency,” who assail Stewart with the kind of thoughts that come with depression, like “nobody likes you” and “you don’t deserve to live.” Yet these negative figures are regularly scared away by those like The Four Artists, who show Stewart light and color and where to go to escape the darkness. Equally important, Stewart meets friends in space who make him feel less alone, and need his help fighting too.
Although abstract in presentation, Zellgert never pushes the symbolic nature of the story to the point where it’s confusing to follow. Readers who can relate to the challenges Stewart faces will find wisdom and encouragement in this treatment of the hurdles created by depression, anxiety, and loneliness, especially as Zellgert shows how those hurdles can be overcome—and, crucially, that sometimes Stewart has to try more than once. When he falls off the path of light, he gets the help he needs to find his way back. Both science fiction and full of heart, this will be a relatable journey many will find inspiring.