In the future, the extraterrestrial Pipers devour electrical devices while threatening human lives and forcing them to regress to pre-electrical technology.
Strata, her brother, Auger, and his wisecracking friend, Inby, find a sleeping robot pony named Kleidi buried in sand one day while exploring some ruins. Waking Kleidi, however, triggers activity and attracts numerous unwanted encounters with the Pipers, huge and terrifying tentacled beings; fleeing, they become lost. While on the run, the group meets a young woman, Pick, from a different tribe, which is hiding from “ferals,” or bandits and outlaws. Together they go on a quest in search of the Caravan—the trio’s mobile home, which houses the remaining digital archives: robots, literature, music, movies, along with all memory of previous human civilizations. Serving as a leitmotif throughout the story is the tale of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin”: the children, in this future, are represented by technology; as Pick explains, “they are stealing our future.” Hale generously offers texture and intricate details in his panels—often zooming in and out and back in—while offering balance with illustrations rendered in black, white, and gray with yellow accents. In this future, humans are divided into clans but do not maintain present-day racial distinctions; all the main characters appear to be children of color.
Hale blends adventure, aliens, an apocalyptic future, and folklore into an easy-to-read stand-alone. (Graphic science fiction. 8-12)