David Conway leaves Earth and settles on the backwater planet of Chalcedony, Delta Pavonis IV, in search of a quiet life away from the haunting reminders of his past.
Living aboard a derelict spaceship in the quiet coastal community of Magenta Bay, he meets artist Matt Sommers, beachcomber Maddie Chamberlain and ex-starship pilot Hawksworth, and things seem about as perfect as he could hope… until he discovers that his ship is haunted by an alien spectre.
What follows will change Conway and his friends – and the future of humankind’s destiny in space – for ever.
This is another work by Eric Brown that I’ve read this year, and I’ll make no excuse for it. I really enjoy his writing and find it difficult to believe that he isn’t a more popular author when the quality of his output is consistently high. Starship Summer is a short novella, running to only 120 pages, and is from the excellent PS Publishing, a small press publisher that churns out some great stuff from many genre authors. Those familiar with Brown’s work won’t find anything different here, but it’s a great story that is expertly told.
As the synopsis says, this is the story of David Conway and his new life on Chalcedony, a planet renowned for its Golden Column, an artifact that is mysterious and strange, no one knowing why it is present there. Conway meets some locals in the town of Magenta Bay and buys an old starship from Hawksworth, who runs a scrap yard in the town full of old and disused starships. Conway sets up the ship on his land and uses it as his home, but the presence of what can only be described as an alien ghost starts a string of events that lead to a revelation that will change everything for humanity.
As I mentioned, if you’re familiar with Brown’s previous work you won’t find too much different here. This is a story about the characters, each contributing to the whole in a satisfying way and Brown is able to bring each to life and give them a good depth in such a short space of time. Conway is the main character whose point of view the story is told from and it’s through his interactions with everyone else that we discover more about them, and also about the planet and its history. There are no complaints from me at all about the way this story is told and the human side of the story once again reigns supreme, although this does not mean that anything suffers because of it.
The story is set in the same universe as Meridian Days, the Telemass universe, and while it doesn’t have any direct relation to the previous story the setting is very suitable and allows the story to unfold in both expected and unexpected ways. The technology isn’t that prominent but the Golden Column does play a big role in the story and everything is tied together nicely at the end.
This is a novella that is well worth reading and Brown has already written one sequel to it, Starship Fall, with another two due over the next couple of years. I’d highly recommend picking this one up simply because of how enjoyable and easy it is to read, not to mention that the short series could turn into and excellent set of stories based on this one alone.