Book review: IDP: 2043

Irvine Welsh is one contributing other to this collection. Picture: TSPL
Irvine Welsh is one contributing other to this collection. Picture: TSPL
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IT’S 2043 and global warming has put many of today’s communities under water. Populations have taken to the high ground, and in Scotland, New Wanlockhead is the location of Sky Farm, a hi-tech tower where new ways of feeding people are pioneered. Think insect protein, mutant pigs, a spider goat.

IDP: 2043

Barroux, Hannah Berry, Kate Charlesworth, Dan McDaid, Will Morris, Adam Murphy, Mary Talbot, Irvine Welsh, Denise Mina

Freight Books, £14.99

While the wealthy have access to technology and healthcare, the poor scrabble to survive in shanty towns. Kicking against the system is Cait McNeil, the token “bit of rough” on the so-called reality show that sells Sky Farm to a sceptical populace. Her attitude looks set to get her killed.

That’s the set-up for IDP: 2043, a graphic novel commissioned by Edinburgh International Book Festival; the brief was to celebrate the event’s 30th anniversary last year by looking three decades ahead. And according to Denise Mina, Irvine Welsh, Kate Charlesworth and the other writers and artists involved, it’s going to be depressing.

Isn’t it always? Is there really no drama to be had from a generally positive take on the future? Here we have the usual view of the wealthy as scumbags and the plucky poor – the Internally Displaced People – as everyday saviours. The preaching is tiresome, the execution of the book’s themes sledgehammer heavy.

In six chapters we learn about the players – the first and third stories should be swapped as the latter has much of the set-up needed to appreciate the rest. Cait, apparently intended as our viewpoint character, is intensely annoying, with her hectoring brand of heroism. The best chapter, written and drawn by Will Morris, concerns a young boxer’s struggle to remain true to himself. There’s a similar theme in Mina’s collaboration with French artist Barroux, but the decompressed storytelling and childlike art annoys. Welsh and the superb Dan McDaid explain why the main baddie is so bad in an enjoyably daffy piece.

It’s great to see the book festival try something new but IDP: 2043 isn’t the “white knuckle ride of a thriller” promised on the jacket, it’s a plodding presentation of a few interesting ideas and a lot of clichés.