I’ve read a few short stories and a Space Opera novel by Ian Sales and I find his writing to be enjoyable and informative so I was looking forward to reading this book. I’m not going to get too technical with my review. Mainly because I’m not very good at that, but mainly because Lavie Tidhar does it much better than I could in his review. Instead I’ll go with my usual simplistic style.
I’m going to start by saying something controversial. Ian Sales reminds me of J.R.R. Tolkein. Don’t laugh, let me finish. Tolkein invented entire languages just so he could write his books. It is that dedication to research which shines through everything the author writes, but this work in particular. We gain a glimpse in to this through the glossary and reference sections that are included at the back of this book. There is a serious amount of science fact in this fiction. In some ways this story is so believable that there is an eerie feeling about it . The story is set on the moon and captures the desolations and isolation that life on such a base must engender very well. At times I could feel the depression leaking out of the book and in to me. This depth of emotion was a surprise to me in this kind of short story. I did not see the last line coming but it fits perfectly and is the only way it could really end. The whole thing is tied together by the last word. Don’t peek before you get there.
Flicking through the book you may be surprised that only half of the book is the short story. Somehow though each page seems to contain about a page and a half of writing. It is not particularly fast paced and full of action but the tension is palpable all the way through. Tonight I’ll be choosing some of the terms in the glossary to read up on and I will certainly look up some of the references over the next few weeks. This book is hard work for a short story but the pay off for any science and military geek is well worth it. Even if you don’t enjoy the story this book opens so many doors to new reading experiences that it would be churlish not to buy it and have a look.