28 January 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Acadie by Dave Hutchinson

My rating: 4.3 out of 5

Recently I have been taking a greater interest in shorter forms of fiction, and I've been seeing this novella rate well, so it was a simple choice to have a look for myself. It's just over 100 pages in paperback form with an interesting storyline and written in a lovely fluid style so it's a slick read. Right from the first paragraph I found myself captivated by the story and it kept me that way right through.

The title gives a slight clue to the subject and setting which is an idealistic, peaceful colony populated by people who fled Earth hundreds of years prior to find the freedom to explore the genetic potential of the human species. A group of heavily modified humans known as Writers live separately in a hollowed out asteroid and are continually playing around with genetics and things under the leadership of their mysterious and enigmatic founder Isabel Potter. Told in a first-person narrative style from the perspective of Duke Faraday who is the reluctant President of the colony which is made up of a vast network of ships and habitats drifting around in a remote star system far from Earth. The rogue colony is continually on the run from the Bureau of Colonisation based back on Earth who wish to eliminate them for many reasons, not least the fact that the majority of the colony population is made up of colonists who were stolen while waiting in suspension for a trip to one of the new Bureau worlds. The Bureau has been tracking them for hundreds of years across space and in this story it looks like they may have hit pay-dirt. As the story moves along, we eventually learn that all is not as it initially seems, and things culminate with a twist that turns the whole story on it's head. Then we're left wondering and wanting another installment to do some explaining. Quite well done really, and there's more than enough story meat here to produce a full-length novel, so I'd love to see Hutchinson expand this story or explore other ideas in the same setting.

Hutchinson covers an incredible amount of storytelling territory for such a limited page count and his world-building is superb, as good as in any other modern space opera. There is a good dose of tech for those who (like me) require such things in their science fiction, and the characters are great, well developed and their dialogue fits into and enhances the fluid style that I mentioned earlier. There is lots of wit and humour in the dialogue too which further helps the pages just slide by. The elements all combine so well and show off the author's skill. I am a big fan of Peter F Hamilton's work, and this story (so far the only of Hutchinson's that I've read) reminded me of that to some degree, mainly in theme but also in the grand scale which is a signature feature of space opera.

Overall this is a very enjoyable read, it moves along rapidly and left me feeling mostly satisfied yet definitely wanting more. I hope Hutchinson isn't done with this yet. It's been a nice introduction to a great author. I look forward to looking at more of his work.

4/5 for concept
5/5 for delivery
4/5 for entertainment
= 4.3 out of 5

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