01/07/2009. Contributed by Gareth D Jones
pub: New Con Press. 103 page small limited edition hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-907069-02-4.
check out website: www.NewConPress.com and www.ericbrwn.co.uk
Although the novella 'Starship Fall' is the sequel to Eric Brown's earlier 'Starship Summer', this book is an entirely independent story that doesn't rely on previous knowledge. There are references to earlier happenings, but which of these formed the basis of the earlier book was not apparent and didn't matter to this story.
David Conway lives a quiet life on his grounded spaceship at an idyllic bay on the quiet planet Chalcedony. Here he reads books, enjoys the scenery and meets his friends for a beer. This pleasant existence is interrupted by two events: the arrival of a former movie star as his new neighbour and the disappearance of his friend's indigenous wife on a mysterious and potentially deadly ritual. This leads Conway into a series of interwoven adventures that explore the meaning of friendship and the mysteries of the planet's natives. Although I use the word 'adventures', the whole thing is quite sedate, yet despite the gentle pacing I was captivated. Herein lies the book's strength. I wanted to know the secrets behind the glamorous movie star's arrival, the taciturn natives and the vision-inducing drug that they use. Have any of the characters really been given a glimpse of the future? Who is trying to manipulate whom? I was drawn inexorably from page to page to find out.
The prose throughout is pleasant to read, nothing jarringly out-of-place but a realistic setting with genuine human emotions and everyday dialogue. The plot flows steadily, adding background information and new twists almost unnoticed until you suddenly realise the depth of the situation that has developed. It's one of the most emotionally involving stories I've read in a long time and left me well satisfied.
This is a limited-edition signed hardback, a lovely quality book with impressive artwork. The cover art is entirely unrelated to the story, but it's a great-looking book nonetheless. It's quite a price tag for a slim book, but in terms of story-telling you won't be left disappointed.
Gareth D. Jones
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