Binary by Eric Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
On what should have been a routine mission to the star system of 61 Cygni A, Delia Kemp finds herself shunted thousands of light years into uncharted space. The only survivor of a catastrophic starship blow-out, Delia manages to land her life-raft on the inhospitable, ice-bound world of Valinda, and is captured by a race of hostile aliens, the Skelt. What follows is a break-neck adventure as Delia escapes, fleeing through a phantasmagorical landscape.
As the long winter comes to an end and the short, blistering summer approaches, the Skelt will stop at nothing to obtain Delia’s technical knowledge – but what Delia wants is impossible: to leave Valinda and return to Earth.
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Yep, as I thought: I enjoyed this very much. A "half-novel" in that it is the first installment of a two-part story that will be published next year as a single volume. It is quite typical of Brown's more recent sci-fi stories which have a distinctive pulp feel. I've mentioned this before in other reviews of Brown's work, and it's a style that I find myself liking a lot. There's more of a focus on the yarn and not so much on depth of character or world-building, etc. Many of Brown's other works show his prowess in those areas, but this one is pure fun. The story follows a scientist as she becomes marooned on an unknown alien world and her adventures there. The planet and the aliens are interesting without becoming a distraction to the overall, and rather simple, plot. The whole thing works because of some well used tropes and overall it blends together into a cohesive whole that is a satisfying read. It's what I think of as a great bedtime read that doesn't tax your mind but keeps you interested with a sense of wonder which is a facet that Eric Brown does so well.
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