Thursday, July 5, 2018

Starship Mountain, by Allen M. Steele

★★★★★ Fun characters, interesting setting, solid plot

(SF Colony; Sanctuary) Jeremy Crowe hunts for a missing nobleman’s daughter in a human colony on Tau Ceti e reduced to flintlock-era technology. (20,074 words; Time: 1h:06m)

This story is self-contained and enjoyable by itself. However, the author has stated it’s part of a novel (to be named “Sanctuary”) and his short story by the same name serves as a prologue, telling how humans first came to Tau Ceti about 250 years before the action of this story

"Starship Mountain," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 07-08|18, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The plot is simple but solid: Find Pilot and bring her home. In the process, the story brings the characters and the setting to life.

And it’s rich with interesting characters: Jeremy himself, of course, who chafes under the restrictions the Cetans impose on humans, and yet despite his willingness to flaunt the rules, he has a personal code of honor that makes him admirable.

Our first impression of Philip Kim (through Jeremy’s eyes) makes him out to be an undeserving rich boy, but one of the big pleasures of the story is watching him gradually earn Jeremy’s approval. Just as important, his whole motivation is that he really loves Pilot, and that comes though very clearly. The reconciliation between the two of them is very satisfying.

Even the minor characters manage to be more than two-dimensional. Bart the Cetan, for instance.

The forgotten colony makes a good setting, particularly with the twist that the natives deliberately keep the humans from getting too powerful. The relationship between humans and Cetans is complex, not quite like the European colonists in the New World but not quite like modern-day refugees either.

Finally, there’s plenty of action and tension. I look forward to the next installment.

Con: A number of editing errors detract from the story.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 07-08|18)
Allen M. Steele Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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