It is the year 2550 after death (A.D.). The ability to time travel is now possible. With it, we can travel back in time to observe some of the greatest moments in the history of our Universe; the Big Bang, the birth of our planet, life, etc. Cobus Prinsloo’s “Time Gliders” is a comic book that tells the story of the TG-1 mission and her journey through time to explore and discover our Universe like never before. The TG-1 is crewed by Professor “Prof” Patel, a scientist from India who helped develop the time travel technology; Liz Ross, an American engineer; Deon Dexter, pilot and security specialist; and Quasar, the timeline navigating robot who is trying to find its place in the world.
At first glance, it looks and feels like a science fiction comic. It has time travel, robots, spaceships and battles with dinosaurs, which makes it exciting; however, as soon as one dives into the story, one quickly realises that this is not just another comic. One is learning about the Universe, based on real science — real facts!
In this volume, the TG-1 team jumps right back to the chaotic beginnings of our infant universe. Professor explains to the crew (and to us) the physics behind the Big Bang, and our expanding universe. During their escape from the Big Bang, the TG-1’s reactors are irreparably damaged, and we soon learn that the ship can only jump 300 million years into the future at a time. While it means they will not be home for the holidays; the team will get to see, first-hand, some of the wondrous miracles of our universe – thanks to this mishap, so will we.
The comic is action packed and filled with science from beginning to end. It is colourful, well-illustrated, which helps keep the reader’s attention, and allows the reader to visualise some of the descriptions. There is a glossary at the end of the comic that explains the occasional jargon “Prof” throws around. As a scientist, I understood the conversations in the book without having to go to the glossary; however, for someone still learning, turning to the glossary could bring an unwelcome pause to the action and events unfolding.
Because the bulk of the story happens in space, there are many discussions on physics, which is excellent. Space exploration, Space X and our mission to Mars is making headlines right now, globally, and comics about space could help people understand what it is we are trying to do, some of the challenges we face, the science behind these endeavours, etc. I would imagine that in future volumes we will see other fields, such as chemistry, biology and mathematics, featured — all of which are relevant in our lives as well.
Comics are a great way to tell stories. They should be used more often in science communication and education because many children and even adults read comics. Naturally, comics are much easier to follow when compared to books, thanks to their illustrations. A lot of detail can be captured in an image rather than in sentences, making comics an attractive medium for simplifying science. We need to have our great science stories brought to life with great writers and great illustrators so that we can educate, excite and inspire people about science.
A comic like “Time Gliders” is a step in the right direction. Those who picked it up enjoyed and read it cover to cover. While some adults would enjoy this comic, it would be more suited for children and teens. There is scope for it in the classroom, in the waiting room of a doctor’s office or even in research institutions for open days. I look forward to seeing what the next volume has in store for the TG-1 team!
Time Gliders is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Time-Gliders-Marooned-Cobus-Prinsloo/dp/154691949X.