Monday, July 11, 2011

BOOK AT A GLANCE: "Nexus: Ascension" by Robert Boyczuk

And now for something completely different: I just finished Nexus: Ascension, by Robert Boyczuk and printed by ChiZine Publications ( and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The story starts in media res, with a great hook: the four-person crew of the STL starship Ea (no wacky FTL in this universe!) have just returned to their home world of B'haret from a 30-year trading mission.  They come out of cryogenic stasis to discover that no one is responding to their hails, and the whole planet is under quarantine.  A plague erupted and everyone is dead....

Thus begins taunt, exciting hard-SF tale of desperation, madness, revenge and perhaps some little hope.  The story ends hundreds of years and many lightyears later, in places the viewpoint characters probably could never have imagined.

I enjoyed this book, although I had two complaints about it.  First, there is a pretty big clue dropped in the prologue as to what is going on.  Perhaps it is a clue, or perhaps a red herring - I won't tell you which (trying not to spoil the ending).  However, as a clue it is heavy-handed and as a red herring it is pointless.  Compared to the relative leanness of the rest of the narrative, it seems glaringly out of place.

Second, while in general Mr. Boyczuk conveys well the mind-crushing effect that the end of the world has on the Ea's crew and other B'harians, he over-does it in the two viewpoint characters.  Both of them act, and do not act, in ways that seem puzzling or just downright stupid at points in the narrative.  Maybe a little more background on these two characters might explain their choices a bit more?

Overall, however, these are minor quibbles.  While I don't think Nexus: Ascension is a book I will return to again and again to tease out buried truths, it was well worth the time and money I spent on it and would recommend it to any other SF fan.