It takes a lot of people to put together a movie as big as Tomorrowland. And apparently the same can be said with tie-in books. Before Tomorrowland by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case, with a story by Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird and Jensen and art by Jonathan Case offers the early history of Tomorrowland to the fans anxiously awaiting for the film. Will Before Tomorrowland make me more excited for the film or cool my enthusiasm.
It’s July 1939 and Lee Brackett is making a hasty trip to New York City with his mother. The trip is well, not a good idea, as Clara Brackett is fighting the cancer that is physically wrecking her body. But she insists on this trip so she can visit a science fiction convention sponsored by a group called Plus Ultra. For Plus Ultra, a group of the world’s greatest thinkers including Nikola Telsa, Howard Hughes and Albert Einstein, the convention is actually a dress rehearsal of their public reveal of their greatest secret…another world! While the Bracketts are invited to play the game through a comic book that will lead them to the other world, their lives are further put at risk. A former Plus Ultra scientist, Werner Rotwang, is collaborating with the Nazis to steal Plus Ultra’s technological advancements. And in the middle is the mind of a man trapped in a robot body that has a grudge against Plus Ultra. To make things worse, the man has been abused by Rotwang. Will the Bracketts be able to survive this struggle? Can the presumed dead security head of Plus Ultra Amelia Earhart be able to protect the Bracketts and her Plus Ultra colleagues. And will anyone figure out a really cool name for the Other World? The book closes with a copy of the comic book used by Plus Ultra to invite visionaries to visit their Other World.
Before Tomorrowland is a Young Adult novel that is also targeted to Disney geeks like me who are overflowing with enthusiasm for the movie! It is my excitement for the movie which lead me to do something I really do not do anymore, buy a physical fictional book. Now, my overall assessment of my investment is that the book is fine but a three or four on a five point scale not a five. The plot is fairly low key to me and is not overly complex. Being a Young Adult book it is really written to that audience not an adult market. So at times it just really did not keep me excited. Second, someone who is excited about Tomorrowland really does not need to read this to stay excited. I do not feel like I have been spoiled on much. I feel like I know more about the history of Plus Ultra, understand that robots are very important in Tomorrowland and the history of some early Tomorrowland development. And I am guessing that everything I need to know about these topics will be evident in the movie. I would say that most who consider reading Before Tomorrowland should consider a borrow not a buy.
Though written for an young adult audience the book is at times very adult. There is a lot of death. The book contains graphic scenes of violence. And there are plenty of folks with questionable morals running around. So maybe it would not be the best choice for some younger readers.
You should be aware that the Before Tomorrowland book on Kindle is not the same as the print copy. The Kindle version, which is free, is the comic book portion of the book. The good news is you can get this short comic to help prep yourself for the movie for free. The bad news is I wanted a Kindle version of the whole book to save shelf space and a few bucks. So I find myself somewhat confused on why a digital copy is not being offered by Disney of the full book.
Before Tomorrowland really did not change my enthusiasm for Tomorrowland. I am still excited, at time of writing, to see this film which I hope will feature the ideas of progress that Walt Disney held dear. And I am pumped to see what Brad Bird will do with translating a theme park land into a fictional story. But if you are less excited than me, I would recommend reading this book but perhaps borrowing instead of buying.