Set almost exclusively in a remote outpost, a place inhabited by just four humans now the latest crew member has arrived, having made a journey that took him eight years. It’s not explicitly stated, but I assumed the moon they were on was Titan.
Aside from leaving his family behind, Paul Munro has had to endure a lot of physical changes to cope with the lighter gravity of his new home. It’s a one-way trip because he could never survive a return to Earth.
His biggest sacrifice was giving up the World Ear, a device that connected him to the global network 24/7 and through which much of his life flowed.
Paul has been sent to work out why some transmissions from the station to Earth are being corrupted. The story follows the investigation as it unfolds. It’s essentially a mystery story, set in an usual location.
This isn’t a long book, at about 300 pages, so it’s quick to get through, which was nice when the tension started to ramp up and offered the hook of a page turner.
It ends rather abruptly, not unsatisfactorily so much, but there was more that could have been added and it would have expanded the tensions often shown between the crew and between the crew and Earth, which some of them believe is evil.
It’s far from perfect, with a lot of the story simply describing mechanical actions. Then there’s the stereotypes of the crew and the crotchety new arrival. The limited cast does focus the mind though and the extreme location provides both a character and an obstacle.
I think it’d make an interesting TV special, as you could boil it down to a reasonable run-time and emphasize the claustrophobia, there are times when the book seems to draw the story out just to increase word count. I enjoyed it though.
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Paperback copy of the book
Reviewed: 14th October 2016