The Seventh Voyage HC
Publisher: Scholastic/Graphix
Release Date: October 2019
Price: $19.99
Creator(s): Stanislaw Lem (writer); Jon J. Muth (adaptor & illustrator)
Format: 80 pgs., Full-Color, 8.25"x11.5", Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-5450-0462-6
Age Rating: 8-12
ICv2 Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

The publisher’s age rating for this book is totally baffling.  The book would get a higher rating if it was being marketed to teens or adults, but as a graphic novel for elementary school kids, it has flaws.

The story, part of Lem’s series about a character in a variety of satirical SF stories, is about getting caught in an unfortunate time loop in a damaged space ship.  Due to odd design flaws, repairing this one-man ship takes two people.  The time loop means that there frequently are two or more of him, but getting both or more of him to work together is a huge obstacle.  Even when both or more of him wish to cooperate, there may only be one space suit.  So, the story gets more convoluted and loopier, making fun of the clichés existing in a lot of other SF stories.  This is part of where the story fails for younger readers.  Kids will either not understand the problem or wonder why the adults don’t just get their act together and fix things.  Since the actual resolution of the story is something along those lines, that makes it even more strange.

Stanislaw Lem wrote this story for adult readers, and just having a children’s illustrator turn it into a graphic novel doesn’t really make it a children’s story.  Muth’s illustrations are beautifully executed, but they are still telling a story that centers on time-travel paradoxes and complex illogic.  Also, in at least one major case, his illustration of the repairs doesn’t match the text, in terms of what nuts, bolts and screws are, which could be confusing to kids.

That said, teens and adults who have read a moderate amount of SF or even seen a lot of SF movies will find the story to be both moving and hysterical.  If it’s being shelved with children’s graphic novels, though, they may never see it.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.