Starship Winter is set a couple of years after the events of Starship Fall, and once again we’re back in Magenta Bay, on the Planet of Chalcedony, with David Conway and his friends: Matt, Maddie, Hawk, and Kee. Winter is a relatively short novella, focusing again on the events that befall the small group of friends we have followed through the previous novellas, with David Conway the medium through which we experience this tale.
As is Eric Brown’s trademark, Starship Winter is easily readable, the prose flowing off the page with little effort. This makes the pages turn all too quickly for a story of its length and before long the end is drawing close. However, despite this – or perhaps because of it – Brown fills the text with vivid descriptions, planting the alien images in your mind without being overpowering. It’s remarkable how easily he does this, and how well it ties into the story to pull off another emotional and fitting read.
While the story itself is not long, it does have a solid centre to it, and it also raises some interesting aspects about art, spirituality, and the interactions humans have with alien species. Darius Dortmund is perhaps central to this aspect, a human with empathetic and telepathic abilities with aliens and, to an extent, humans. His views and actions are strange and cold, but through these the story unfolds and revelations are made, and deeper truths uncovered.
Sometimes, when reading a novel, there is an aspect that hits home harder than anything else within. In Starship Winter it was the relationship that develops between David and Hannah. I had gone through the early stages of a relationship myself when I read this novella, and the way Brown conveyed David and Hannah’s relationship was very easy to relate to, and added to my enjoyment of the story.
Brown is more than capable of delivering a story like this, and of asking deeper and more personal questions than many other authors writing in the genre. Even in such a small page count Eric Brown has crafted a deeply moving and emotional story, and one that captivated me entirely.
To finish I shall leave you with a quote from David Conway, our main character:
“No one is perfect. We live with our strengths, our weaknesses and imperfections—and we do our best with what fate has given us. It’s called being human—to try your best, and fail, and to go on despite everything…”