Second frame of third chapter, in original French and in English translation by Edward Gauvin:
Another of the science fiction books set in 2023, this is the best known work of the French comics writer and artist Enki Bilal, born in Belgrade to Czech and Bosnian parents. It’s the first volume of a trilogy, the other two parts being set in 2025 (so I’ll get to them two years from now).
Published as La Foire aux immortels in 1980, this is set in a near-future Paris which is basically independent, France having collapsed as a state, and run by the fascist mayor Choublanc (Bunglieri in my translation) who is now facing re-election. The suburbs are decaying and run by local gangs. Everyone reads their own preferred news bulletins and information is therefore politically fragmented – an accurate anticipation in some ways.
Less accurately (probably – but who knows?), a giant floating pyramid inhabited by the gods of ancient Egypt has materialised over central Paris, and won’t go away unless supplied with fuel. Meanwhile Alcide Nikopol, a former astronaut who has spent thirty years frozen in suspended animation in orbit, returns to the city. His leg breaks off but is repaired in a rush job by the Horus, who allies with him against his fellow deities to shake up the politics of Paris in 2023.
It’s political and passionate, and fits in with the other lefty French-language 1980s comics which I read a few years back, Les Chroniques du Fin du Siècle by Santi-Bucquoy (Autonomes, Mourir à Creys-Malville, Chooz). It’s less ideological, but similar in the sense of the corruption and decay of the ruling classes, and the need for revolutionary action to bring about a better state of affairs. And the art is riveting.
Though also worth noting that the ice hockey team from Bratislava all speak Russian and their uniforms carry the initials ЧССР – not only did Czechoslovakia stay together in this version of 2023, it was also apparently annexed by the Soviet Union, which is still going strong. Bilal’s mother was Czech, so he knows perfectly well that Russian is not spoken much in Bratislava, nor is the Cyrillic alphabet used much there. (There would have been more of it in 1980 than now, but that’s not saying a lot.)
You can get the English translation of the trilogy by Edward Gauvin here, and the French original here.
Books set in 2023:
Revelations of the Dead-alive (aka London and Its Eccentricities in the Year 2023), by John Banim (1824)
Looking Further Backward, by Arthur Dudley Vinton (1890)
The Bedlam of Immortals, by Enki Bilal (1980)
Islands in the Net, by Bruce Sterling (1988)
The Turing Option, by Harry Harrison with Marvin Minsky (1992)
Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy, by Matt Ruff (1997)
Killing Time, by Caleb Carr (2000)
The Free Lunch, by Spider Robinson (2001)