Friday, June 16, 2017

A new start yet far away...

The Space Between the Stars

Anne Corlett

Publisher: Berkley

Pub. Date: June 13, 2017

Rating: 3 & 1/2 out of 5 stars

Anne Corlett's The Space Between the Stars is full of some beautiful writing. The challenge is figuring out what type of beautiful writing it is.

Jamie is one of the very few people left alive after a space-wide pandemic. She may be the only person alive in her space colony of ten thousand people and she has no idea if anyone else has survived. Earth in the past has been over-populated and the colonies were mainly populated by those who were compelled to resettle. Jamie was one of the few who volunteered, wanting to leave an unfulfilling relationship and looking for her own "space". Now her only thought is to return to Earth and hope against hope the man she left is still alive.

As it turns out, there are other survivors and they make a plan to return to earth. The small crew makes up a microcosm of reasons for returning. There are also others who do not want the survivors to return to Earth for their own reasons ranging from the political to social to personal. The trip to earth and what they find is pretty much the vehicle for the novel but the meat of the plot is found in the motives and expectation of Jamie and the others on the journey.

This all make for a rather introverted space journey. there are several discussions of a philosophical nature on whether expectations of a future are futile or not and basically about what the heck they are doing anyways.. Jamie gets a surprise that causes her to rethink her reasons for going back to earth then strengthens and re-frames them. Jamie is a big "if" in this novel. She embodies a will and purpose yet some may think that purpose as rather selfish and naive. She wavers between selfish and wise and I believe that is how the author wants her to be seen. There are no real heroes and villains here just a group of people struggling physically and psychologically in a Homeric journey through space.

And like most Homeric journeys, the author is portraying and exploring a few existential struggles in life along with it. But perhaps the venue is a bit wrong. Or maybe it's the marketing. The Space Between the Stars isn't really that much of either a science fiction novel or post-apocalyptic one although it is hyped as both in the promotional spin. Science fiction fans are bound to be disappointed in the simplicity of the idea and a distinct lack of world-building. Those who would like the literary drama of the story, which I feel is its strength, will be off put by the space adventure aspects. Essentially the epidemic and the colony aspects is a McGuffin and in that, some readers may feel a bit cheated. To add on to that, The other characters do not really flesh out all that well feeling like bit players in a B-science fiction movie when you want Ibsen.

It's unfortunate since Corlett has a story to tell here and the climatic ending brings much of it together emotionally . If The Space Between the Stars finds its audience they should be quite pleased with it. I'm just not sure who that is.

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