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Social Fiction

Social Fiction

by Chantal Montellier, translated from the French by Geoffrey Brock

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Dark, smart, and indomitably cool, the ’70s and ’80s dystopian visions of Chantal Montellier still unsettle.

Visitors to an underground mall must recreate civilization after a nuclear strike may have wiped out the rest of humanity. Newlyweds find themselves implicated in a government eugenics program. A disembodied authority reprimands a man for stepping out of view of a security camera.

In this collection of three novellasWonder CityShelter, and 1996—published together in English for the first time, Montellier’s blend of dark humor, gripping storytelling, and consistent focus on the perils of totalitarianism shows her to be a master of both comics and science fiction.

Social Fiction includes a Q&A between Chantal Montellier and Geoffrey Brock.

Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Comics
ISBN: 9781681377407
Pages: 200
Publication Date:


Authoritarianism and resistance to it are twin threads that run through the dystopias of Social Fiction .... Montellier’s drawings favor clean, symmetrical lines and a meticulous attention to detail....The dialogue is beautifully and idiomatically rendered in English by the poet Geoffrey Brock, who also contributes an introductory note and an interview with the author.
—Laila Lalami, The Nation

Montellier is no prophet, but rather a feminist and an anti-fascist. Her dystopias of the ’70s and early ‘80s address political, social and technological conditions which follow from patriarchy. Her alternate futures are real because they flow from our present, and her insights remain relevant and profound.
—Helen Chazan, The Comics Journal

There's anger in Social Fiction by Chantal Montellier but it's tinged with a wry sadness...which I think is best summed up by this quote: "...the betrayals of the 'leftist' government and the destruction of working-class communities upset and revolted me."
—Clark Burscough, The Comics Journal "The Best of 2023, As Decreed by Our Contributors"

I loved this. Montellier’s shade of political disillusionment has a strikingly Ballardian sheen—dilapidation preoccupied with the appearance of function—with gorgeous cartooning. 'Dear Collaborators' might be the best one-page comic I’ve ever read.
—Hagai Palevsky

A pioneering woman in French comics […] Montellier, who is now 76, is not as flashy and action-oriented as her male counterparts of the era. What comes through in these stories is her dark humor, feminism, and still-relevant political allegories about government control over our lives. We’re fortunate this work has finally been translated.
—Matt Bors, Bors Comics

Hauntingly farsighted satire…, which still feels vibrant and at the same time prophetic.
—Emmet O’Cuana and Kumar Sivasubramanian, Deconstructing Comics

This book collects together the 70s and 80s dystopian visions of the pioneering French feminist cartoonist Chantal Montellier in the form of three novellas. With its focus on the horrors of is gripping and sometimes darkly funny.
—Rachel Cooke, The Guardian “Rachel Cooke’s Best Graphic Novels of 2023”

Montellier's "dirty future" is not just dirty, it is barely functional. The dystopia in Social Fiction droops from the loosening tape that holds it together, yet people still comply. Like most Métal hurlant contributors, Montellier lived through 1968, but unlike nearly all of them, she worked extensively in radical leftist venues prior to her narrative strip work; the sigh behind her pestilent societies is that of faded promise.
—Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal

The perils of totalitarianism take center stage in this collection of grimly humorous science-fiction novellas…Montellier emerges as a true visionary of the graphic-novel medium and the science-fiction genre in these captivating tales of human beings struggling to retain their dignity under repressive regimes.
—Tom Batten, Library Journal

Published together in English for the first time, this spiky collection of three science fiction graphic novellas from Montellier, one of the few women published in the famed French comics magazine Métal Hurlant in its heyday, makes a case for her place as one of the publication’s brightest creators. . . . Montellier’s firm line and punk ethos recall the early, science fiction–themed installments of Love and Rockets, but her vision is far bleaker, fueled by political rage, satirical wit, and a full-bore feminist drive. The anarchic sensibility feels both of its time and eerily prescient. It’s a thrilling introduction to an unmissable comics talent.
Publishers Weekly

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