Aetherial Worlds: Stories by Tatyana Tolstaya

There are times when one wants to sit down and read a book but simply doesn’t have the time, focus, patience or energy to devote to such an undertaking.  That is where collections of short stories fit in.  They allow the reader to go through one or more stories as they have the time.  Allowing one to get that much needed creative break.

I was in one of these quandaries when I found the collection of short stories “Aetherial Worlds” by Tatyana Tolstaya.  These stories are contemplations of time, place and space.  Just out of the ordinary enough to make one wonder, could this really happen?  Or even has it happened already?

The description from the jacket cover is as follows:

“From one of modern Russia’s finest writers, a spellbinding collection of eighteen stories – her first to be translated into English in more than twenty years.

Ordinary realities and yearnings to transcend them lead to miraculous other worlds in this dazzling collection of stories.  A woman’s deceased father appears in her dreams with clues about the afterlife; a Russian Professor in a small American town constructs elaborate fantasies during her cigarette break; a man falls in love with a marble statue as his marriage falls apart; a child glimpses heaven through a stained-glass window.  With the emotional insight of Chekhov, the surreal satire of Gogol, and a unique blend of humor and poetry all her own, Tolstaya transmutes the quotidian into aetherial alternatives.  These tales about politics, identity, love and loss, cut to the core of the Russian psyche, even as they lay bare human universals.  Tolstaya’s characters – seekers all- are daydreaming children, lonely adults, dislocated foreigners in unfamiliar lands.  Whether contemplating the strategic complexities of delivering telegrams in Leningrad or the meditative melancholy of holiday aspic, vibrant inner lives and the grim elements of existence are registered in equally sharp detail, giving way to a starkly bleak but sympathetic vision of life on earth.

Written with wit and candor, compassion and depth, and piercing emotional and political acuity, Aetherial Worlds is a shimmering and unique collection from one of the first women to rank among Russia’s most important writers.”

I greatly enjoyed this collection of stories. Some are quite short, only a couple of pages.  Like “Passing Through” with its explanation of what happens to socks in the laundry, the mystery of missing objects and curious items that randomly appear.  Others were longer.  One of these called “The Invisible Maiden” seemed to be many stories in one focusing on the people who would come to a particular family dacha every summer. A cautionary tale, “The Window” hands out things free of charge but come at an altogether different price.

Ms. Tolstaya’s writing draws you in.  Reading her stories are like picking up a conversation with a dear friend that you haven’t seen in years.  No additional introduction is needed, they pick up right where they are supposed to be.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the dachas, delivering telegrams in Leningrad, driving in snow, illumination on Italian tombs and church ceilings in Ravenna, etc.  Each story captures the readers imagination in part due to the wonderful descriptions.

I highly recommend this collection of stories.  If you have a chance to pick up Tatyana Tolstaya’s collection of stories entitled “Aetherial Worlds” you will not be disappointed.

Auxiliary: London 2039

What do a “Farm,” robotic arm, and a murder have in common? They are linked together in the brilliant science fiction novel, “Auxiliary: London 2039” written by Jon Richter and published by TCK Publishing.com.

This is not a cheerful novel where science has improved humanity and the world for the better. This is a dark, gritty, dystopian view of our future where we have given up our individuality and our freedom to computers. It is this vision that makes this novel so interesting and worth reading.

The description of the novel from the jacket cover reads as follows:

“The silicon revolution left Dremmler behind.

But a good detective is never obsolete.

Through the glittering urban wonderland of the future prowls Carl Dremmler, police detective-one of the few jobs better suited to meat than machine in 2039. His latest case: a murder suspect caught literally red-handed. The investigation seems open and shut, but the tech-wary detective can’t help but believe the accused’s bizarre story: that his robotic arm committed the grisly crime, not him. An advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull.

A chip controlled by TIM.

TIM: The Imagination Machine. The silicon god of the UK. The omnipresent AI that drives every car, cooks every meal, and plans every second of human life in London. But if the accused murderer’s story is true, then TIM’s compromised … and Dremmler’s in horrible danger.

TIM’s systems were supposed to be impregnable. Un-hackable. Perfect. Only somebody very powerful could bend the AI to their will. Somebody with ambitions. Somebody willing to kill to keep their secrets. If Dremmler’s going to crack this case, he’ll need to question everything he thinks he knows-and face down every terror 2039 has to offer.”

One of the challenges of good science fiction novel, is the author’s ability to describe places and events. Jon Richter has definitely mastered this challenge. His ability to describe colours, scents, light, and sounds enhance the readers ability to suspend their system of disbelief. Transporting them into the places and experiences.

A great example of the amazing descriptions in this book comes from chapter 6, Dremmler goes to a club called Toxicity with Petrovic, his partner on this particular case. Part of the experience uses special glasses called spex. The following is the description of that expereince from page 26:

“As he followed her to join the other revelers, he clicked the spex to the right station , and a cocoon of swirling colours embraced them, washing the rest of the club away. It was just him and her, enveloped in a pulsating fabric of blue and green and silver and magenta and sapphire and emerald and amethyst and finally blue again, a glorious cerulean sky stretching into infinity above them, the sun suspended within it like a droplet of molten gold. Long blades of grass danced around their feet as they gyrated , and the sun sank slowly, its colour bleeding out into the sky in a deep crimson blot like the end of the world, the final gory hemorrhage of the earth, beautiful and brutal and pure violent red, like war, like the womb he had squirmed out of in the dying throes of the twentieth century, like lips, like Cynthia’s lips, and he was dancing and drinking with Cynthia, kissing her on top of a snow-capped mountain, staring into a sky so clear and crisp it might have been an ice cube floating in her glass.”

I don’t want to give anything away about the storyline or plot but nothing is as it seems in this novel. With the addition of the AltWorld, a computer generated alternative reality experience, there are times where it is hard to know what is real and what isn’t.

Another great aspect of this story is that it primarily told through the experiences of Carl Dremmler. On occasion the author shares points of view from others in the novel. It expands the readers overall view of this strange world without giving any plot information away.

One of the creepiest moments in the book has to do with a creature made by a 3-D laser printer. Earlier in the novel, Dremmler had seen the aftermath of this printer made creature killing someone. The creature or device as TIM calls it, had disappeared into the sewer. The following is an exchange between Dremmler and TIM about the device from chapter 33, page 147:

“Another fucking rogue robot we’ve lost track of,” Dremmler muttered.

“Incorrect. The device reappeared earlier today. It emerged from an open manhole and scaled the building.”

“Which building?”

“This building, Carl. Until two hours ago, it was attached to the outside surface of your bedroom window.”

I would definitely recommend this novel to fans of science fiction. While cautioning that this novel isn’t for everyone. If you enjoy darker literature and specifically dark science fiction, this book is definitely for you.

If you would like to find out more about Jon, check out his page on his publishers website https://www.tckpublishing.com/our-authors/author-jon-richter/ and the author’s website page https://www.jon-richter.com/,

If you would like to find more novels like this one or just another good book to read, please check out the TCK publishing website. https://www.tckpublishing.com/

Network Effect

“Now we’re here, ready for the next major disaster. (Spoiler warning.)” – Murderbot, page 37, Network Effect

Murderbot is back!  If you are not familiar with Murderbot and the four previous books that comprise the Murderbot Diaries, you can become acquainted with these delightful books clicking on the following links and checking out my reviews :  All Systems RedArtificial ConditionRogue Protocol; and Exit Strategy.

The Murderbot Diaries were created by author Martha Wells.  Martha is an excellent writer.  I have enjoyed her creative writing skills in developing characters and the plot.  I also enjoy Martha’s descriptions of the places and people that Murderbot interacts with.  In some cases her descriptions are so well done, I feel like I could sketch the person or draw a diagram or schematic of the place.

The overarching theme of these novels, to me, is what really makes us human.  This theme doesn’t just pertain to Murderbot and other AI that it meets but to the people as well.

I enjoy how all of these books tie in together but can also be read on their own.  I am not the only human who enjoys these books immensely.  Titles in the Murderbot Diaries series have won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Alex Awards.

Murderbot is paranoid, anxious, doesn’t like to be touched and enjoys the human media program “Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon.” He has moments were he has feelings.  What Murderbot calls having an emotion.  He cares very much for the clients who have become his friends and recognizes why he considers them friends.

“Thiago had said he felt like he should apologize and talk to me more about it.  Ratthi had said, ‘I think you should let it go for a while, at least until we get ourselves out of this situation.  SecUnit is a very private person, it doesn’t like to discuss its feelings.’ This is why Ratthi is my friend.” -page 230-231, Network Effect

Things have a way of going sideways very quickly on strange planets and that’s why the humans need protection.  Providing security for humans is a monumental task.  Murderbot is quick to point the irony of its job with its quick wit and hint of sarcasm.

“I’ve had clients who thought they needed an absurd level of security.  (And I’m talking absurd by my standards, and my code was developed by a bond company known for intense xenophobic paranoia, tempered only by desperate greed.)  I’ve also had clients who thought they didn’t need any security at all, right up until something ate them.  (That’s mostly a metaphor.  My uneaten client stat is high.)”         Murderbot – page 9, Network Effect

Network Effect will keep you guessing until the very end.  And for those who have read the previous four novels, an old friend returns and desperately needs Murderbots help.  The description on the book cover reads as follows:

“I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90-plus percent of my problems are.

The bestselling Murderbot series exploded onto the scene with ‘one of the most humane portraits of a non-human I’ve ever read’ (Annalee Newitz).  Now one of the most relatable AIs in science fiction returns in its first stand alone novel.

It calls itself Murderbot, but only when no one can hear.

It worries about the fragile human crew who’ve grown to trust it, but only where no one can see.

It tells itself that they’re only a professional obligation, but when they’re captured and an old friend from the past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic Action it is, then.”  – Book cover, Network Effect

Network Effect by Martha Wells is a stellar read.  But don’t take my word for it, go find a copy of your own to read.

At the Mountains of Madness

I finished the novel At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft a little over a week ago.  I would love to discuss this book.  No one that I know has read it.  I’ve asked friends, students in my art classes, and family members.  Because I can find no one to talk to about it, I feel compelled to write a post about it hoping that someone will comment or contact me and want to talk about At the Mountains of Madness.

I did not have much to go on when I ordered this book.  I think there was a sentence or two about explorers on the continent of Antarctica unearth an unspeakable evil.  That could mean anything in the horror, science fiction genre.

When reading a review about the movie “Color Out of Space” based on another work by H.P. Lovecraft, the author of the review had stated that the director Guillermo del Toro loves the book At the Mountains of Madness so much that he wants to make it into a movie.  I do not have such strong feelings about the book.  In fact, there are a couple of things that really bother me.

Some of my less than enthusiastic response may have to do with this being my first introduction to the writing of H.P. Lovecraft.  On occasion I found his writing to be archaic, even for the period of time he was writing in.  There were allusions to other books Lovecraft had written.  I think that if I had read the book about the Cthulhu or the Necronomicon, I may have had better appreciation for the horrors that the protagonist experienced.

At the time this novel was published, 1936, we did not have as accurate maps of large parts of the planet.  Antarctica was one of these areas of the world.  So the expedition to explore and track the geology and geography of Antarctica would be a very real expedition for that time.  However, knowing what is known of the geography of the continent today, I was simply unable to suspend my system of disbelief and accept the authors premise of a mountain range higher than the Himalayas on the continent of Antarctica.  This is a small thing but it bothered me.

I have never been a fan of technique of telling a story from the point of view that the protagonist has already survived and is now recounting what he experienced.  To me it is much scarier, if as the reader, I am participating in events as they are happening to the protagonist.  Not as an after the fact recounting.  It takes the edge off knowing that the individual survived.  The horror doesn’t get him because he is telling the story in past tense.

I acknowledge that there is a lot of mystery surrounding the continent of Antarctica.  There is so much about that place of ice and cold that we do not know.  There are theories about tunnels and pockets of life that were trapped and developed independently under the ice.  Scientists are learning new things about our planet all the time, why should the continent of Antarctica be any different.

Although I did not find At the Mountains of Madness to be scary, it was dense with dread.  I imagine a movie version of the book could be very intense and scary.  I would be very excited to see a film version of At the Mountains of Madness directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Permanent Record

There are moments in ones life that cause an individual to change.  Some of those moments have a catalyst in the way of an experience, event, etc.  It’s kinda like when someone asks you where were you when you heard about the twin towers in New York City?  Really big events not only change one person but have the power to change everything.  There was before September 11 and there is after September 11.  This particular event also affected Edward Snowden the author of Permanent Record,

I remember when I watched the documentary “Citizenfour,” directed by Laura Poitras, having a serious shock and awe moment when I realized how much, how serious and how scary the amount of surveillance that my government was perpetrating on its own citizens, as well as every human being on this planet.  This isn’t a clever science fiction plot.  It is real life and it is terrifying.

documentary Citizenfour

 

So of course, when I heard that Edward Snowden had written a book, I had to read it.  I was not disappointed.  The following is the description from the jacket cover:

As I proceeded down the Tunnel, it struck me: this, in front of me, was my future.  I’m not saying that I made any decisions at that instant.  The most important decisions in life are never made that way.  They’re made subconsciously and only express themselves once fully formed – once you’re finally strong enough to admit to yourself that this is the course your beliefs have decreed.  That was my twenty-ninth birthday present to myself: the awareness that I had entered a tunnel that would narrow my life down toward a single, still indistinct act.”  – (Page 214) from Permanent Record

“In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American Intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message and email.  The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth.  Six years later, Snowden reveals for the first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.

Spanning the bucolic Beltway suburbs of his childhood and the clandestine CIA and NSA postings of his adulthood, Permanent Record is the extraordinary account of a bright young man who grew up online – a man who became a spy, a whistle blower, and in exile, the Internet’s conscience.  Written with wit, grace, passion, and unflinching candor, Permanet Record is a crucial memoir of our digital age and destined to be a classic.”  – Book cover of Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Written in a way that even the less than technical savoy can understand, I felt that I was given a view into the government’s development of its spying programs.  I also felt like Edward shared his struggle and motivation.  The words flow logically and Edward leads you through the story.  I appreciated his candor, humility and humor.

At one point in the chapter on encryption Edward makes the following comment.

“Breaking a 128-bit key would take 2 [to the 64th] times longer than a day, or fifty million billion years.  By that time, I might even be pardoned.”  – page 217 Permanent Record

I my humble opinion, Edward Snowden should be pardoned.  He is a hero.  He pointed out something that should be a concern to every human being on this planet.

I highly recommend the book Permanent Record.  It puts the record straight.  If you have read it, please post a comment.  Or if you would like to discuss the book with me, please contact me through my contact page.

Polaris

Recently, I had the great good fortune to pick up a book at a thrift store in Whitefish, Montana for a dollar.  A hardcover science fiction book by an author that I had not heard of before in mint condition, Polaris written by Jack McDevitt.  I was intrigued by the cover art.  (I know that you are not supposed to judge a book by the cover, see previous blog post on that subject here: Judging a Book by it’s Cover)  Once I read the description, I was hooked.

The description of the book from the inside of the jacket cover is as follows:

“The luxury space yacht Polaris carried an elite group of the wealthy and curious thousands of light-years from Earth to witness a spectacular stellar phenomenon.  It never returned.  The search party sent to investigate found the Polaris empty and adrift in space, the fate of its pilot and passengers a mystery.

Sixty years later, the question of what happened aboard the Polaris continues to capture the popular imagination, especially as the anniversary of the event approaches.  A major new book is planned, as is an auction of the things found on the ship – including personal effects of the missing.

Prominent antiquities dealer Alex Benedict manages to secure some of the artifacts before the auction.  But then an explosion destroys most of the collection, and an attempt is made on his life.  Convinced that someone is taking drastic measures to hide the truth about the Polaris, Alex is determined to uncover the truth – no matter how far he must travel across the stars, no matter the risk….”  – Polaris book cover

Jack McDevitt wields an interesting tale.  In this future time of space exploration and colonization, why does the captain and crew come up missing from the space ship Polaris?  This tale could have been told a variety of ways.  McDevitt’s writing is clever in balancing clues to they mystery, building relate-able characters, describing fictional places and keeping the reader intrigued.

All of the characters are interesting.  To me, the ship itself feels like a character as much as the passengers who disappeared.  And in the end part of the ship provides a very important clue that helps solve the case.  There is the story of Alex Benedict who secures and sells artifacts along with Chase Kolpath, Benedict’s employee, pilot and I would also say friend.  Chase’s voice narrates the story and I think that it is a creative choice that makes sense.  It becomes very important in sequences involving flight and space travel.  Because Chase is a pilot, she can describe the events in a way that is plausible and believable.

McDevitt has a talent for weaving humor into his descriptions of fictional creatures.  The following is a description of an evening on a planet that Alex and Chase were visiting and their experience with a yoho.

“It became an interesting evening.  The snowstorm renewed itself and turned into a howling blizzard, there was an earthquake warning at about the time we were going to bed, and a few hours later they evacuated the hotel because a yoho got into the building.

The yohos, it turned out, were arthropodic creatures with a taste for people.  Fortunately, they only showed up five days out of the year, which coincided with there breeding season, and on those occasions they rarely left the beach.  After an hour of standing in the snow, we were informed by management that the yoho had gone, everything was okay, and we could go back in.  When we got to our suite, we inspected it carefully and locked the doors.”  –Polaris, page 265.

The following is the description of a planet that Chase and Alex fly by during their investigation of the disappearances of the captain and crew of the Polaris.

“Markop III was hardly worth a visit.  But we went anyhow, because Alex insisted on being thorough.

It was an attractive world, lots of blue water, fleecy white clouds, herds of big shaggy creatures that made great targets if you were into hunting.  The weather through the temperate zones was almost balmy.

If it was inviting, however, it was also potentially lethal.  Unlike the vast majority of living worlds, its viruses and disease germs loved homo sapiens.” –Polaris, page 317.

My overall take on the book is that it is an interesting story that has a satisfying ending.  It was fun to read from beginning to end, with the mystery keeping me guessing throughout the novel.  If you enjoy a good mystery with your science fiction, I would highly recommend this novel.  If you have read the novel and would like to talk about it, please leave a comment or write to me through my contact me page.

Exit Strategy

The fourth and final installment of the Murderbot diaries, Exit Strategy, is a wonderful conclusion to this delightful series.  Martha Wells, the author of this series, keeps the readers attention from the first sentence of the first paragraph till the final word of the last sentence.

The description of the story from the book cover is as follows:

“Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care.  So its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murdbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah – its former owner (protector? friend?) – submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?

And what will become of it when it’s caught?”  – Bookcover of Exit Strategy

Favorite characters from the first book, All Systems Red, return in book four.  A majority of the action takes place on the space station that is home to the corporate headquarters for the GrayCris Corporation.  Unfortunately to say anything about the story of this book would give away valuable information necessary to the story.  I just hope that you will take the time to read it for yourself.

Described by science fiction writer Annalee Newitz as “One of the most humane portraits of a nonhuman I’ve ever read.”  This book is a fantastic ending to the series.  I cannot recommend this book or the entire series enough.

Rogue Protocol

Don’t expect anything less than brilliant writing and story development in Rogue Protocol the third in the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.  This story pulls you in and takes you for a wild ride.

The following is the description of the story from the book cover:

“Who knew being a heartless killing machine would present so many moral dilemmas?

Sci-fi’s favorite antisocial AI is back on a mission.  The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.

And Murderbot would rather those questions went away.  For good.”

Book cover of Rogue Protocol

The third book in the Murderbot Diaries series, Rogue Protocol, is as excellently written as the first two.  Martha Wells, the author of the series, has a gift for story telling, describing unique environments and character building.

There are so many good things about this book.  Martha Wells creates fantastic new places.  New space ships and navigation bots ferry Murderbot from place to place.  The description of the almost empty space station and the abandoned terra-forming facility at the planet of Milu are excellent.    The creepy atmosphere of the abandoned terra-forming facility is a perfect setting for the events that happen there.

Another interesting aspect to this story is the introduction of Miki, the human-form bot, who is a friend and assistant to the human scientists trying to reclaim the abandoned terra-forming station.  Murderbot is surprised by the ways the humans treat Miki.  These interactions between the scientists, Miki and Murderbot add to Murderbot’s complicated feelings about humans.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Rogue Protocol and highly recommend it.  It is an amazing addition to the Murderbot series.

Artificial Condition

I just finished reading the book Artificial Condition by Martha Wells.  It is the second book in the Murderbot Diaries.  The following is the description of the book from the book cover:

“‘As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.’

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed.  A past that caused it to christen itself Murderbot.  But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a research transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the A stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…..”

-Book cover of Artificial Condition

Artificial Condition picks up at almost the exact spot that All Systems Red, the first book in the Murderbot Diaries series, ended.  Instantly you are pulled into the quick wit and brilliant running commentary of Murderbot.

One can’t help but relate to Murderbot even though he is a machine.  For example: how many times has a news program come on and you quit watching or listening, turned it off or changed the channel because you just can’t listen to one more word.  It appears that Murderbot has similar “feelings.”  In the first paragraph of the book Murderbot explains why security units don’t care about the news.

“Secunits don’t care about the news. ….. [It] was boring and I didn’t care what humans were doing to each other as long as I didn’t have to a) stop it or b) clean it up.” -Murderbot

More interested in avoiding people and watching his pirated media collection, Murderbot hitches a ride on a research transport vessel that eventually ends up becoming his friend.  The addition of ART added a new level of sarcasm and comedic bite to Murderbot’s running commentary.  An excellent character addition to the story.

There were more than a couple times that I laughed out loud while reading this book.  Again, like the first book, the story grips you from the very beginning and doesn’t let you go until the very end.  Suspenseful but not horrifying.

Martha Wells is an excellent author.  She crafts conversations and descriptions of places with the same exquisite attention to detail.  A lot of thought and creativity went into this book as well as the entire series.

I cannot recommend Artificial Condition enough.  It is an excellent continuation of the story and what I have read of the series.  I can’t wait to read the next book Rogue Protocol.

The Burning Dark

Has this ever happened to you? You read a review of book.  It sounds really interesting, so you find said book.  The description on the book cover or jacket is clever and draws you in.  The first chapter is enjoyable and you think, this is going to be a really good book.  Only it turns out to be an okay book.  That is what happened with the book, The Burning Dark.  There was every indication of greatness, it just didn’t quite get there.

Here is the description from the back of the book:

“Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the fleet into battle against a machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds.  After saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleet space, overseeing the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station.

Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic.  Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.

Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned space radio, only to tune in to a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that echoes across a thousand light-years of space.  But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past — or a warning of an undying menace?  – Book Cover of The Burning Dark

As you can tell from the description on book jacket, it has the makings of a really interesting story.  I will confess, that this book although not my favorite was not awful either.  There were a couple things that I really didn’t like about this book.

One thing was the harsh break on page 19 of the book.  The story jumps from a battle to a group of people drinking together telling stories.  The actual drinking get together doesn’t really happen until much later in the book, chapter twenty-eight, to be exact.  It was confusing and introduced characters in such a way that I didn’t put together who some of these characters were until much later.

Authors will often skip from character story to character story to move along the plot.  It was used in this novel.  However, instead of moving the plot along, it was choppy and sometimes confusing.

But as I said before there was some really good things about this novel.  The back stories of the characters, even the villain were very interesting and well written.  Even if their inclusions were at odd times and places.

The authors descriptions of space and the anomaly that the space station was orbiting were very well written and researched.  Also the descriptions for setting up scenes and places on the space station, and Zia Hollywood’s ship were well done.  I could really visualize these places.  Adam Christopher has a gift for describing a place.

My final thoughts about this novel is that it is an okay novel.  If you have read it and have different thoughts or opinions, please comment.  I would invite discussion about the novel The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher.