7 Billion Needles, Volume 4
By Nobuaki Tadano
(Vertical, Paperback, 9781935654162, 204pp.)
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
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Modern day Japan is the stage for a new form of hard science-fiction, as author Nobuaki Tadano revisits one of the genre's Grand Masters, Hal Clement, in his debut work 7 Billion Needles. Loosely inspired by Clement's golden age title Needle, 7 Billion Needles follows the life of a teenage girl whose quiet boring days are dramatically changed when her body is possessed by an alien life form caught up in an intergalactic manhunt.
In this final volume, life on Earth is on the brink. Hikaru finds herself in a battle with an organism bent on defining Earth's ideal life-force. By going through the a few million years worth of genetic makeup from Earth's history, this new threat quickly is breaking down the very fabric of life as time and space have developed.
With now two aliens residing in her, Hikaru's purpose is clear. She must prove that humanity is at the top. And she must do this on her own. Her future will be forever tied with the two parasites living in her bloodstream, but as a young person capable of expanding the gene pool with her own make up, she alone is at the top of the native food-chain.
Nobuaki Tadano made his comics debut with the short story Headphone Wearing Shut-in Girl for Media Factory's monthly sci-fi and fantasy comic anthology Comic Flapper. The short's success earned him the honor of winning Media Factory's Comic Flapper New Artist Award.
7 Billion Needles is Tadano's first feature length series and his first title translated into English.
“Tadano’s style of storytelling strikes a nice balance between words and pictures… His artwork leans toward ‘hard,’ with realistic and expressive faces, characters who all look different (except when the plot requires them to look alike) and detailed, photo-like backgrounds that are sometimes recognizable as specific places in Tokyo. The only problem is that each short volume is a very quick read, and Volume 3 won’t be out until February.” —Daily Yomiuri
“Tadano made this science fiction story—with its monster-movie overtones, and a jolting dose of ultraviolence—mostly quiet and subdued, with a heroine who falls into none of the usual manga stereotypes. Hal Clement might have had a hard time seeing his story in this, but I think he would have appreciated those quiet moments, and the communications between Horizon and Hikaru.” —Andrew Wheeler, Antick Musings
“The lack of easy outs keeps 7 Billion Needles fresh…and manages to bring the sixty-year-old story into the present day and an all new setting with aplomb. Hikaru is detached, but not to the point where it puts off the reader. She just comes across as a normal girl who is a little out of her depth in life, and a lot out of her depth when it comes to alien invasions… This is good stuff, and assuming the next three books maintain this level of quality, yet another entry in Vertical, Inc.’s stock of great manga.”