Rob Turpin makes beautiful spaceships. Gloriously lumpy, and weirdly graceful, the Weird Field (WF) ships are almost abstract collections of parts, the idea of a spacecraft filtered through the practicality of not having to worry about atmosphere. Weird Field World, Turpin’s first book, collects them all and provides some welcome, and expertly designed, context.
In the near future, someone begins sending Earth blueprints for impossible spacecraft. These ships ignore the laws of physics and design. None of them have the same power-down cycle, almost none of them have a crew roster in double digits. Most are vast, all are beautiful and every single one is powered by what comes to be known as the Weird Field. Humanity becomes a multi-planet species inside a century, the economic benefits of the Weird Field tech are felt everywhere and the planet slowly begins to change for the better. Planetary engineering tech begins to reverse climate change, a botched terrorist attack super-charges the Martian terraforming process. There are still problems, disasters (One of the best sections of the book concerns one of the only WF ships to ever vanish, the Bellerophon) but by and large, we do better than we’d ever dared hope.
Turpin’s world building has the same combination of precision and organic chaos as his ship design. This isn’t a utopian future but it isn’t a dystopia either, humanity’s eternally compromised ethics transposed onto a much bigger canvas. It feels right, plausible and goes places I never expected. The ending especially is an absolute gut punch, delivered perfectly and, hopefully, setting up a second book.
The story is great, the art is wonderful and the sense of humour Turpin brings to his designs made me smile every second page. The ships all have scale markers next to them and these are often a chance for Turpin to have some fun. I especially liked the WF Deckard having a Blade Runner spinner as its scale marker and Totoro‘s appearance elsewhere is lovely too.
Weird Field World is witty and focused and a place you’ll enjoy spending time in. Its currently sold out but hopefully a new print run will happen in the future.