Thursday, May 08, 2014

What we're reading: Speculative fiction

Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland (nicknamed Ida) has been ordered to oversee the final stages of the deconstruction and decommissioning of the U-Star Coast City, a space station in a remote quadrant near an odd technetium star, named Shadow, whose purple light has toxic properties to living matter and also disrupts technology. While it is not the send-off Cleveland expected as a war hero leaving the fleet, he is anxious to discharge his duties and begin his retirement. If only things were that simple...

The U-Star’s commandant is mysteriously unavailable, and the acting commander is openly hostile. The squad of marines still stationed on board is disrespectful and antagonistic. Add to this the fact that Cleveland feels the duties he’s required to perform are far beneath him and not terribly engaging. To fill in some of the copious amounts of free time he now has on his hands, he decides to build an old-fashioned radio like the one he built with his father long ago. He’s not expecting to hear a lot--the station is remote from settlements, stations and ships. There is also the interference from the purple star that must be taken into account. But even with these hurdles, Ida starts to receive a signal. The transmission is short and faint, but it is there and it is repeating. This unidentified signal may be the key to understanding some of the odd occurrences taking place as the Coast City is disassembled.

Adam Christopher, author of the excellent Empire State and The Atomic Age, returns with The Burning Dark, offering readers a traditional ghost story with a sci-fi twist. The “haunted house” is a nearly derelict space station, and the “victims” are veteran space officers and soldiers. Throw in some mysterious phenomena, and the result is a thrilling read that will have readers guessing--and shivering--until the very last page.

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