Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Speed of Winter / B. Morris Allen

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Science Fiction

Approximate word count: 20,000-25,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
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The author lists himself as a biochemist, an activist, and a lawyer. He pauses from time to time on the Oregon coast to recharge, but now he's back on the move, and the books are multiplying like mad. When he can, he works on his own contributions to speculative fiction. The Speed of Winter is his first published work.


In a post-apocalyptic world, to assure the survival of the human species a series of ‘arc’ ships are sent into space to colonize planets believed to be habitable.  The story follows one of these ships.


Note: This review contains some spoilers

For me, this was a book of two halves. The concept of deep space travel on a ship with four thousand passengers was intriguing. Most of the passengers are placed in “Cold Sleep,” a kind of stasis during which they will age, but very slowly. Four crewmembers at a time take ten-year shifts where they stay awake to manage any issues that may arise.
Most of the story takes place as the first batch of passengers is woken when their target planet is a couple of years away. The planet turns out to be uninhabitable, in a constant state of winter—a terrific and compelling conflict, I thought.

And here’s where the second part of the story fell down for me. Only one male and one female crewmember survived the last ten-year shift, and they had a child, which was a forbidden act (until the planet is settled).
Instead of examining the huge challenges facing the humans on the ship who know they are doomed, the author focuses on the attitude of the passengers to the child. At age nine she is raped, twice, and for me, this crossed a line. Although the rape scene isn’t graphically described, it isn’t necessary for the story. Jealousy or anger that the child exists could be depicted without this act. While I could understand that the child would be a touchstone for people’s anger, I didn’t buy-in to the concept that the crew and passengers would become sexually obsessed with her.

The writing is clean and flows nicely.

Format/Typo Issues:

None noted.

Rating: *** Three stars

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. Sorry to hear the story didn't work for you, but I appreciate your giving it a try.