Searching for Hope in a Desolate Future

Author: Mike Keady

Rook: Exodus opens with a stark vision of a future in ruins. An entire planet is being evacuated as it ceases to support human life after Earth has become uninhabitable—desperate people launching themselves into space, sometimes without stable rockets. We see a wasteland forming – terraforming in reverse.

If the author of Rook: Exodus isn’t using its setting to explore the anxiety about climate change, I’d be quite surprised. The existential dread it invokes is plain as day; what if the world stopped being compatible with human survival? What if leaving was in the hands of the corporate elite?

These are worries that people struggle with. There is also a way of managing and coping through art. One application of art therapy is a technique called externalization. Externalization is when we take something that is on our mind, such as a thing that is making us upset, sad, or angry, and apply it to a context that is separate from ourselves. This technique can help people manage anxiety about climate change, transforming abstract fears into tangible narratives we can engage with creatively.

We see this in the art people engage in, whether it’s through consumption or creation. We see it in the D&D characters we make. We even see it in Bluey! It’s common to see people’s art and play reflect things in their minds, and we can harness that to support our well-being.

On the planet Exodus, the world engine, which maintains the terraformed state of Exodus, has failed, and the world is reverting to a pre-terraformation state, which is hostile to human life. This works quite well as a metaphor for one’s anxiety about climate change – something many therapists are helping people cope with at the moment. For anyone particularly struggling with climate anxiety and needing support, you can locate climate anxiety-informed clinicians at the Climate Psychology Alliance directory.

The art of Rook is incredibly well-detailed, bringing dire threats to the wildlife of the growing wasteland, showing the corrosion of a world in rapid onset change. The Ghost Machine team continues to set an incredible standard of excellence in their art. Truly amazing colouring, linework, and setting design rock each page, with no facet sacrificed to prop up another. 

The writing quite effectively sets up cool technology – including a telepathic link to animals, operated by the Wardens, the custodians of the terraformed world. We connect instantly to Exodus, a world that is not post-apocalyptic but pre-apocalyptic. It is falling around our hero, who is doing their best to cope with a situation that is not fair, and not their fault, and yet still their problem.

Rook Exodus is still in its early days as a story – but we can see that the people of Exodus and our hero, Rook, one of its Wardens, that even in the face of corporate negligence, communities can come together and provide for each other.

Amidst the darkness and corporate negligence, I get the sense that there is an underlying theme of hope desperately trying to find a way to shine through. The signs of community resilience, even in the bleakest circumstances, make me want to find hope in future issues. This story invites us to look beyond despair and see the potential for solidarity and support in times of crisis.

There’s a story of hope underneath the cyberpunk armor, Rook: Exodus, and I’m invested in finding it in future issues.

Join Rook on this incredible journey. Dive into the world of Rook: Exodus today and discover how community and perseverance can shine through even in the most challenging times.

Support the creators by following their work and sharing this compelling story with others, especially those experiencing climate change anxiety.

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