This first installment of a juvenile science fiction story follows a boy named Gilbert Sullivan who befriends a female alien named Aoléon and has a series of adventures. The cover art of the series’ titular character is decent for the most part, with the alien on a hoverboard over a farmfield. The minor illustration of a furry violet alien with eyes at the end of the center two of its four stalks looks believable as well.
The first chapter introduces Gilbert Sullivan, a young boy haunted by nightmares of alien abductions, with strange occurrences happening in real life in sync with his dreams. The first illustration in this chapter of Gilbert Sullivan sitting up in his bed is somewhat disturbing, with the boy having wide-open eyes and a crooked smile. While he does bear the same odd expression in the chapter’s second piece of art, it does give the reader a good feel for his bedroom. In the third and final illustration of the chapter, where Gilbert peers through his telescope, his gloved hands appear a tad oversized.
The second chapter follows an alien’s voyage through space and eventual arrival on Earth, after which comes her introduction as Aoléon to Gilbert, and focuses on their initial interactions such as that with Tripod the dog and eventual conflict with Farmer Johnson. The second chapter’s opening illustration depicts a spaceship traveling at light speed, with the vessel being believable with prismatic effects in the space around it. The second artwork depicts a closer look of the intergalactic ship with Aoléon inside, the ship still being believable and appearing over a colorful explosive backdrop. The third two-part illustration depicts different views of the planet Saturn with its rings, near which Aoléon’s ship travels, these views being nice and believable as well.
The next artwork depicts the ship flying near the Moon and the Earth, both worlds having good texturing as well. In the subsequent image, Gilbert is within a cornfield under a bright starry sky staring at the viewer, and smiling, another odd design choice that nonetheless isn’t as odd as the first chapter’s initial illustration. In the art of Gilbert and Aoléon meeting for the first time, it somewhat seems as though they’re floating far above the ground instead of resting upon it. The illustration depicting Aoléon, Gilbert, and Tripod the dog is one of the stronger ones of the book, with Gilbert’s expression being more reasonable than in some previous pieces in the book. For the first illustration of Famer Johnson firing his shotgun, his expression looks somewhat odd and trapped between happiness and anger.
This chapter opens with Air Force pilots pursuing Aoléon’s vessel, and integrates flying cows, whose expressions look somewhat creepy in the section’s first illustration, although the depiction of the pilot’s view and the sky definitely look better. The following two pieces depict the pursuit of the alien craft by Air Force pilots, whose vessels look realistic, with pretty scenery as well. The art afterward shows Gilbert and Aoléon in the spacecraft with the Air Force jets behind them, the former’s expression looking somewhat goofy, especially with his roundish teeth.
The Air Force pilots and the alien ship ultimately come near a passenger plane, another illustration depicting this encounter, Gilbert and Aoléon’s expressions appearing the same as in the prior piece featuring both, although the former’s definitely looks better from a distance. The pursuit takes the Air Force jets and the alien craft into foreign waters, another artwork depicting a pair of sailors thrown off their small ship. The next illustration depicts a nice view of tundra and mountains in the north of Earth, the chase not then being over.
The pursuit of the alien and Gilbert takes them to London, another piece depicting them near London’s Houses of Parliament and the Westminster Clock Tower (known more commonly and erroneously as Big Ben, actually the name of one of its bells). The next illustration depicting Gilbert and Aoléon shows the former with a scared expression, arms and hands in the air, appearing goofy here as well, especially with his aforementioned roundish teeth. The chase goes to Paris, France, as well, the following artwork showing a bottoms-up view of the Eiffel Tower with the pilot that ejected from his plane soaring down to safety via parachute. The chapter concludes with a journey to Mars, a beautiful space illustration terminating the third chapter.
The penultimate chapter opens with a goofy illustration depicting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Stryker, who discusses the prior occurrences involving the alien craft with the President, Vice President, and others, the chapter containing plenty of humorous banter and serving as the story’s chief form of comic relief.
The final chapter begins with a beautiful illustration depicting Gilbert and Aoléon’s arrival at Mars. The following art shows the ship at a closer view, near the planet’s underside, Gilbert having an excited expression and the Martian looking at him. They ultimately enter the planet’s atmosphere, populated by other spaceships, another piece of art depicting this and the lovely Martian surface. Following this is the vessel’s arrival at a well-described Martian city sticking out from one of its massive craters, illustrated well in the book. The next piece looks gorgeous as well, depicting a closer view of the Martian megalopolis, with nice lighting.
The further close-up of the city in the illustration depicted afterwards one could definitely describe as “trippy,” given its psychedelic coloring, although this is by no means a bad thing. Gilbert and Aoléon eventually land and depart their ship, the following art showing them upside-down, Gilbert in a space suit and not looking ridiculous for a change like he did in previous illustration. Many parts of the chapter that follow have occasional political commentary stemming from the fact that artificial intelligence, unswayable by greed or corruption, runs the alien city instead of living beings, with occasional humor, as well, after which the novel reaches its end and leaves room open for follow-ups.
In the end, in spite of some of the odd artistic choices in the illustrations, the first part of this new series is a good one, with the book always clarifying the settings of the various portions of its chapters, and while the art isn’t perfect, it does flow naturally with the story, and definitely helps in the end more than hurts.