Title: Meridian Days
Author: Eric Brown
Publisher: Pan SF
Release Date: 13th August 1993
Bob lives on a planet patronized by artists and their friends. Involved in a terrible accident, for which he blames himself, Bob now lives in a semi-reclusive manner. When a concerned neighbour, Abe, drags him to a party he becomes involved with Fire, the daughter of a sculptress and a poet.
Eric Brown is an SF novelist that I have come to love, his recent novels (Necropath, Xenopath and Cosmopath) are among some of my favourite reads of recent years and right up there with series' that I would recommend to anyone. Meridian Days was Brown's first published novel and, while not perfect, it has everything that I've enjoyed from his recent offerings.
Meridian is a colony planet, and a unique one at that. Being tidally locked to its star, one face, brightside, always faces it, with nightside never seeing any light. This makes for a very interesting habitable zone, a string of islands varying in size that runs down the only area that humans can happily inhabit, while the rest goes from freezing cold on nightside to boiling hot on brightside. The chain of islands are lush and allow those living there to have a near-perfect life, doing what they please. With the population made up of many artists there are plenty of parties and events to attend. All in all, Meridian is a very nice place indeed.
The technology in Meridian Days is not that far fetched and not much more advanced that what we are used to today, although the method of travelling between stars is not done by ships, but rather being transmitted from one planet to another. This is not without risks and we learn early on that Fire's father perished in an accident while travelling from Meridian. The technology is certainly not at the forefront of this story as its very much a character driven tale of relationships and mystery.
So, we now come to the characters, and in particularly Bob. He's our main man and the story is told through his eyes. He's a retired smallship pilot who moved to Meridian after a terrible accident for which he blames himself. He's living on his own and is addicted to a drug that grows only as a flower on brightside, one that takes him back to happier times in an effort to suppress the bad memories of the accident. It's when he attends an event with Abe, his neighbour, that he meets Fire, the daughter of two well known artists, and starts down a road that leads to things that he never expects.
Meridian Days is very much Bob's story and it looks at his personal strife, the relationships he builds with Fire and that of his neighbour, Abe. Not everything is clear cut and many questions start to come to the surface, especially when he and Abe discover some bloodied remains while encountering one of the viscous native animals while over on brightside. This starts off some of the questions in Meridian Days, but it is not all that is raised. Fire's relationship with her mother is overly strange and Bob takes it upon himself to find out more about this, leading to some confrontations and revelations that are both interesting and resolve the story satisfactorily.
It's not too hard to see what's coming, but the way that Brown tells the story just swept me up and carried me along to the end in the way that every good story should. I really did enjoy Meridian Days, but it is not perfect. One of the things that I think could have been improved is the timespan of the story, which takes place over only a couple of weeks - I felt that much more could have been done if this had been lengthened. This would mainly go towards a deeper connection with the characters and the relationships within, and allow further character development more reader attachment to those characters.
Despite this I think that Meridian days is a very good novel indeed. While short, it delivers a story that is interesting and enjoyable, and it will once again go to show why you should be reading Eric Brown's work.
Read an afterword by Eric Brown, written 13 years after the release of Meridian Days, here.
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