Author: Joe Vasicek
Genre: science fiction, space exploration
Length: 79 pages
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (November 2013)
MY RATING: 3.5 stars
In the far future, humanity has expanded across the stars. Jeremiah is a young man who left home to find where he belongs. Finding himself on a remote space station, he tries to offload a cargo of coffee and instead finds himself sharing his cramped little freighter with a girl who does not speak his language. The majority of this novelette is about two people struggling to communicate in a tight space, building common ground–and I will reveal no more.
On the good side, Vasicek presents us with a well-developed world full of problems and promise. Without resorting to infodumping, we get hints of what life is like in the Outworlds and in particular for this very homesick young man. Technology is rather seemlessly integrated into the story without getting in the way, though some of it might take a little suspension of disbelief. My advice is to just go with it.
On the not so good side of things, the story got a little hard to follow at times. Each of the half dozen chapters did not take up where the last one ended, so I felt myself a bit disoriented trying to figure out what Jeremiah is up to. This was likely intentional on the author’s part, but I found it a bit confusing to go between the narrator’s reality (the spaceship) and flashbacks to the time before he left home. Not a huge problem but a little disorienting.
The frustrating side of things, what helps build tension in the story, too, is that it is told only from his point of view. His unanticipated female companion does not speak his language, and she is entirely unfamiliar with space travel. It would have changed the story to see things from her point of view, but that is the one major change I would have made. But in the event, it’s not my story to tell, so just take that comment for what it is.
So in sum, what you get here is an hour-long episode (that’s how long it took me to read) in the life of a space trader operating in his own fully developed future world. Jeremiah lives by his own code of honor, trying to respect the girl’s rights while struggling with his own regrets and homesickness. The ending is rather predictable, but that does not make it any less enjoyable.
If you enjoy spacefaring adventure and young adult romance give Joe Vasicek’s novelette a try. As of this writing, “Star Wanderers” is listed for free on Amazon, but there are a number of other episodes in the series if like me you’d like to see more from this imaginative storyteller.