What Does Restorative Justice Look Like… In Space?

In a graphic anthology of possible futures, astronauts embarking on a moon settlement operation explore justice in space.

an illustrated book cover that says 'flash forward, an illustrated guide to possible (and not so possible) tomorrows, rose eveleth, host of the acclaimed podcast flash forward' with a tree made up of many branching arrows accompanied by stickers of film reel, dog, fish, syringe, pills, paint brush, microphone, drone, satellite, robot with a a human brain attached to head, someone holding out a a screen that says true with a smiley faceThe following is an excerpt from Flash Forward: An Illustrated Guide to Possible (and Not So Possible) Tomorrows by Rose Eveleth. This comic from the book, “Moon Court,” was illustrated by Maki Naro.

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Panel 1: An astronaut with a spacesuit welds something out of frame. Text/narration: Justice. When people first settled on the moon and put up the first space stations, they knew that communities needed each other to survive. They traded earth’s punitive justice system for one that focused on healing and rehabilitation. Panel 2: Close-up on welding astronaut. Text/narration: Restorative justice doesn’t view crime as breaking the law— Panel 3: The astronaut looks up at stars, space debris floats overhead. Text/narration: Instead, it focuses on the harm done to people, relationships, and the community. So a just response must address those harms as well as the wrongdoing. No police, no judges. Panel 4: The astronaut dives out of the way as a moon buggy that looks like a jeep barrels through the lunar landscape, kicking up dust and smashing a satellite dish. Text/narration: Within every community there are restorative justices. Volunteers, like me, who mediate between the victims, the offenders, and the community. We’ve been doing it this way for generations. Panel 5: The moon buggy continues to barrel through the landscape. The astronauts on the buggy have guns. Text/narration: Some of the bad parts of life on earth still manage to make their way up here. Panel 6: The original astronaut gets up, their helmet glass cracked. Text/narration: But I believe I can do my part to help create a fair and just system. For the people of the moon and beyond, and for the generations who follow us…

Panel 1: Exterior of a space station, jumbled with different modules and solar panels. Narration: Jemison Station. Lagrange point 5. Speech bubble: Hi Janice, let me pull up your case and we’ll get right to it… So…does Jun still want custody of the dog? Narration: Ok, I never said it’d happen all at once. Panel 2: A black astronaut in a flight suit hovers inside the space station. A plaque floating near him says ‘Dawn Rodrigues, restorative justice.” A tablet hovering near him has speech bubbles coming out that say: “It’s not right! Cody was born here. He’s never been to earth!” Panel 3: Dawn continues to look at the tablet, with a concerned expression. Speech from the tablet: “He’s got a bad heart, and a big open sky is going to freak him out. I know it! I don’t know what to do!” Panel 4: The tablet screen is in view, with a concerned woman. Her hair is floating, implying she’s also in space. Dawn: “It’s going to be okay. But Jun needs to get on the line and hear the stress this is causing you herself.” Woman on tablet: “Her family got some fancy earth lawyer involved, she stopped answering my calls.” Panel 5: All the colors turn blue. A giant BOOOOP crosses the panel. Dawn looks off to the side. Dawn says: “Let me see if I can— Hey, I’ll call you back.” Panel 6: Dawn floats down a corridor to another module. Narration text: Jemison station was retired for research years ago, and now serves as temporary office space for justices. Most folks only arrive when they are called to mediate. I like the quiet.

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An Illustrated Exploration Of Hypothetical Futures

Panel 1: Dawn floats next to an entry hatch and waves at a woman coming out of it. Dawn says: “Welcome aboard, Mari!” Mari says: “Dawn? When did you get here?” Panel 2: They float together as Mari holds a handhold to steady herself. Dawn says: “Oh I’m always here. I set up a back channel so I can monitor my seismometers remotely. I can seismonitor them. Haha!” Panel 3: The handhold that Mari holds is attached to a pulley system that pulls her down the corridor. Dawn follows. Mari says: “You take this volunteer justice thing seriously, huh?” Dawn says: “Sure. I figure after this case I’ll be promoted to sheriff, haha!” Panel 4: They continue floating. Mari says: “Case? You mean Jun and Janice Davenport? Still? So you’re not here for the thing?” Panel 5: Close up on Dawn, looking surprised. Dawn says: “What thing?”Panel 1: Same exterior of space station from earlier, but half a dozen small ships are starting to dock with it. Narration that comes over the radio: …Forces occupying the meir settlement in lacus spei continue to clash against mass driver security detachments at the site of the debris field… Panel 2: Dozens of astronauts stream into the space station. Most look dirty and tired, except for two cheery androids with brightly colored hair wearing suits. A tired looking woman is in front of them. Narration continues: …Civilians fleeing the area have been directed to Jemison station until tensions subside. More as this develops. …your mother couldn’t be happier! Mass Driver: shipping made simple. The woman says: “Can this wait until we get to my office?” The androids say: “Spaceway is devoted to the personal safety of all customers within the lacus spei debris field, and the actions of our competitors goes against our core beliefs.” “We at the mass driver take our relationship with the spacefaring community very seriously. our intent in using ferromagentic projectiles within the conflict exclusion missed the mark, but we strive to…” The woman says: “Ughh…” Panel 3: Dawn approaches a mechanic working on machinery in the station. Dawn says: “Hey, I’m trying to get ahold of a client in hong kong, is there something wrong with the comm relays?” The mechanic says: “I dunno, friendo, I’m just here with air quality.” Panel 4: Closeup on mechanic. Mechanic says: “Poor gees didn’t even have time to scrub their suits and the whole system is clogged with regolith…” Someone off-screen says: “You, too?”Panel 1: We return to Mari and Dawn floating down the hallway. Mari says: “…I’m supposed to meet a client here, and I can’t get a line back to earth. Apparently all the channels are occupied by the driver and spaceway lawyers.” Panel 2: Close up on Dawn. Dawn says: “Ohh, if it’s a channel issue, I might have a work-around for you…c’mon.” Panel 3: Dawn and Mari poke their head out of their hallway into the larger hallway from earlier, where all the astronauts are coming in. They look on on the two cheery andoirds and the annoyed-looking woman with a clipboard. Android 1 says: “Our recovery initiative was only to make things right and protect our customers’ property from the site.” Android 2 says: “The mass driver corporation believes our competitor is mistaken and wishes to stress the important of recovering our assets from the debris field.” The woman says: “Really? Your people shot up a settlement over salvage rights?” Panel 4: Close up on the androids and the woman. The androids say in unison: “We take our customers’ needs very seriously.” Panel 5. Same as the last panel, but the colors are drenched in red as the word “KLAXON” fills the panel. Panel 6: Some type of light dirt explosion happens in the middle of the panel with the words “BOOF.” Dawn, Mari, and the astronauts turn around to look at it in shock. The androids are the only ones who don’t turn around.Panel 1: A kid wearing a different type of flight suit (it’s purple and has custom parts and a backpack strapped to it) and a long strand of purple hair coming out from underneath their flight cap rockets out of the dust cloud with an angry, determined look on their face. A mechanic that they barrel past shouts: “Hey!!” Panel 2: The kid is grabbed by one of the mechanics as they manages to elbow and kick two other mechanics. They say: “Let me go, you fascists!” Panel 3: A group of the weary astronaut shout: “Let them go!” and “They’re with us!” as Dawn and Mari look on. Panel 4: Dawn and Mari join the jumble of mechanics and astronauts trying to wrestle control over the kid. Dawn shouts: “Woah, hey! We’re justices. What’s going on?” Panel 5: A mechanic, who appears to be more of an authority figure, holds up a smartphone with the girl’s picture on it that says “bounty.” The authority says: “Says here this kid is a runaway and wanted by earth authorities! They need to come with us.” Panel 6: A closeup on Dawn and the kid, who puts their thumb on their nose and sticks out their tongue as they exits to another module. Dawn says: “Well, we’re not on Earth. We do things differently up here.”

Panel 1: Dawn and the kid float in an empty module. The kid looks out the window. Dawn says: “Ignore them, this may be outer space, but there are still rules. And I’m, like, deputy Quasimodo around here.” Panel 2: Same set up. Dawn says: “See, that was a reference to—“ The kid turns around and shouts: “You can’t send me back!” Panel 3: Dawn joins the kid at the window. Dawn says: “Don’t worry. You’ll get assigned a volunteer justice like me, and they’ll help work this out. Nobody’s sending you back.” Panel 4: Cuts to an older balding crotchety White man wearing an official looking suit, holding a pen. A plaque to his right reads “Boyle Miller, restorative justice.” He says: “I’m sending you back.” From off-screen, someone says: “What?” Panel 5: Dawn floats horizontally as he points frustratedly at Boyle. Dawn says: “Boyle—“ Boyle interrupts and says: “Your honor.” Dawn says: “Boyle, you know we’re not judges. You can’t just show up and pass judgement. We have a process. One that’s fair, and works.” Panel 6: The frame widens out to include Boyle, Dawn, and the kid. Boyle says: “It’s out of my hands. Kid is a thief.” “I never stole anything!”Panel 1: Boyle reads from a tablet as Dawn and the kid float near him. Boyle says: “According to Fynmn, inc., you stowed away on one of their supply ships. You added weight to the payload, and they’re suing you for the extra fuel and oxygen you used.” The kid says: “I had to bring my own oxygen, thank you very much!!” Panel 2: Dawn pushes the kid into another module. Dawn says: “You know what, let’s go. I’ll take the case.” Boyle from off-screen says: “Have fun with the paperwork.” Panel 3: Dawn turns around angrily and says: “I like the paperwork!” Panel 4: Exterior of the space station, still crowded by the other smaller ships. Panel 5: Closeup on Dawn’s hands as he works on electrical wiring. From off-screen, likely Dawn, says: “Nobody knows about this channel. I mean, I do. I use it for my research, but you can borrow it for your call.” Panel 6: Dawn pokes his head out of a panel inside the station, with grime on his arms. He grasps Mari’s hand as the kid looks at them. Mari says: “You’re a champ!” Dawn says: “Just solving problems, one at a time, or my name is—“

“Moon Court,” illustrated by Maki Naro. Excerpted from Flash Forward by Rose Eveleth © Abrams ComicArts, 2021.

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Meet the Writer

About Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is host and producer of the podcast Flash Forward, and author of Flash Forward: An Illustrated Guide to Possible (And Not So Possible) Tomorrows (Abrams Comic Arts, 2021). She’s based in Berkeley, California.

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