Monotropia: a nature lover’s paradise. Abeille arrives on the newly opened forest planet with one goal in mind: grow a garden. Hard to do after growing up on a planet where it always snows. But Abeille is an indomitable woman who doesn’t let small setbacks get in her way, including accidentally running into a young botanist named Miel. Bumping into a cute guy wouldn’t normally be so bad…except when you touch him. As far as humanity has progressed, in this new world of planets and science, touching, while not forbidden, is considered inviolable, not to mention disgusting. But in that instant, Abeille and Miel discover something they hadn’t even realized was missing from their lives. Determined to relive the experience, Abeille embarks on a quest to find Love, the missing component from human socialization in the modern age, with the reluctant Miel along for the ride, as well as surprise reactions from friends and coworkers. As Miel and Abeille delve deeper into the missing links, they begin to realize, as complicated and imperfect love is, there is something more to this abstract concept that no simulator can replicate.
From the creator of Red String and a collaborator of Erstwhile, Gina Biggs’ new project Love Not Found is every bit as fantastical and romantic as her first two. Although not heavy sci-fi, the story takes place on a far planet, where humanity has everything they need: food, shelter, clothing, and sex. As one character points out, there is no need for outdated things such as emotions and awkward touching. Biggs’ clever writing and art demonstrate how sterilized life becomes when touch and human contact becomes “unnecessary.” Unlike her previous work, Biggs’ art has less-visible outlines, with softer shapes and colors. The color palette is chiefly pink offset by light browns and yellows; as the location is a wet-weather heavy planet, this gives a warmth to an otherwise dismal setting. As in all her work, Biggs’ characters are a hodgepodge of race and ethnicity, with everyone on an equal setting.
Perhaps most surprising about the series is Abeille’s status. Unlike many current women in science fiction, she is no scientist, nor does she work as a high-powered leader. Abeille is a cafeteria worker. This is in no way demeaning; in fact it is refreshing to see a strong female lead who does not have to prove herself by being the best of the best. Abeille is not stupid, inane, or weak. She is strong, physically as well as mentally, and her strength is her curiosity and willingness to learn and try, despite what others may think or say. She is not a leader, an explorer, or an activist, but she is fearless. Her counterpart, Miel, is more logical and analytical, less inclined to jump into a situation without proper research and back up. But his adventures with Abeille lead to personal discoveries and growth, and it’s wonderful to see a male character who is introspective rather than falling into traditional masculine stereotypes.
Speaking of stereotypes, there is very little of those in Love Not Found. No matter the sex, gender, or culture, people are expected to do their job and do it well, and there is no social drama over who is whose boss. In that same vein, non-heterosexual relationships are normal, with no comments or surprises when a character is androgyne . There are also disabled characters, as one supporting character has a stutter and uses an earpiece to help with communication. But as in real life, this is not a factor that keeps him from living life fully; it simply means he differs slightly from his peers. And in keeping with the sci-fi genre, there are some natives to Monotropia, known as Dryads, though they are more like walking trees than people.
Created in 2014, Love Not Found updates Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Read the story at LoveNotFound.com.