2001 Nights is a nice anthology of deep-space exploration stories delivered in a western style of comic art. The quality reminds you of the silver age of comics, but there is great detail in both expression and scenary.
While the different stories have no apparent relation or continuation to each other, there is a steady progression in theme throughout the volumes. The first few start with more contemporary space flight achievements or deal with events that take place within our own solar system. The later stages involve more far-reaching destinations and are more fanciful in imagination. There is a great array of concepts and ideas
to match the often bizarre new 'circumstances' the protagonists encounter. These are all backed by an often sizable amount of scientifically related information, but is done so to be both informative and also provide the backbone for the plot. While this might put-off some of the readers, it does enhance the reading and shows the near endless real-life scientific possibilities that could exist out in the universe.
However, the greatest appeal is the ever present moral and philosophical questions that surround the topic of space exploration. Exploitation rights of resources, the pursuit of knowledge, extra-terrestrial life, destruction, conquest, wars and the urge to find ourselves within the emptiness of space gives enough for the reader to contemplate. While much of 2001 Nights has a sobering undertone to it, they all depict the future as a wonderess one which only we ourselves can decide on how to leave our marks on.
2001 Nights is hard science fiction done right. Its interconnected stories are endlessly creative, painting a picture of a future that seems both fantastic and realistic. The universe that Hoshino constructs isn't just the best in manga sci-fi, but one of the best in science fiction in general.
Anime and manga have had a very long and tight relationship with science fiction, from Astro Boy and Gundam to Gurren Lagann and Steins;Gate. Yet few series have tried tackling the more Western (Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein) genre of "hard" science fiction, which takes a more realistic approach to storytelling, even if the end result is about something
And maybe rightfully so, because 2001 Nights exists. It's been a full 35 years since this series came out, and STILL every story amazed and inspired wonder in me. Sure, tropes like FTL drives and aging slower have gone stale (look at Gunbuster and Voices of a Distant Star, among many others), but Hoshino makes them seem so fresh by telling small pieces of a bigger story.
Each chapter in 2001 Nights is a separate story set in the same universe, and it's mostly chronological. Starting slow, Hoshino tells stories inside the solar system. Eventually, though, the stories show mankind discovering FTL travel and other technologies... and then going out into the stars. It's a step-by-step exploration of not just one point in the future, but an entire timeline of events from present day to hundreds of years later. This approach combines the believable near future with insanely fantastic other worlds, and it's all just TWENTY chapters long. I was really shocked when I finished the series and saw the tiny chapter count.... the stories describe a universe vast enough to fill twenty books.
I'm a huge fan of good worldbuilding, and 2001 Nights really delivered. Its weak points are obvious, though. For sci-fi characters, check out Planetes. For sci-fi story, check out Legend of the Galactic Heroes. 2001 Nights is very different: little plot and no time for character development, but with a single, intense focus on sci-fi ideas. And in that arena, nothing beats 2001 Nights.
P.S. My favorite chapter was easily Night 7: Lucifer Rising. The concepts in that chapter were crazy, and the moral conflict in the main character... it hooked me.
The stories are interesting enough. Although each chapter is a unique story, there is a conection with them all. Some characters and stories are developed in other chapters. There is also a sense of progression. As the story progresses, we can see the evolution of humanity in space.
The themes revolve around moral issues and human feelings. How can I forget the lonely AI sent into the deep space, the poor children on their uncertain journey or the brief but life long love in a blackhole.
I found it enjoyable. I don't like all the science
talk, so I couldn't give it a better score. If you are into Science stuff, I think you will like it much more.