Review copy received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Dust & Lightning by Rebecca Crunden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science fiction, space adventure, novella
Published: 5th February 2020 (self-published)
Dust & Lightning was an enjoyable science fiction adventure that packed just enough character development and worldbuilding to make the plot work in novella form.
I do approach novellas differently from full-length novels and sometimes it’s a welcomed change. Given the number of pages and words, I do tend to cut the author some slack when it comes to the depth of characterisation and worldbuilding. Even though Crunden seemed to have kept the worldbuilding fairly straightforward, it nonetheless have enough substance to lend credence to the plot. As humanity continues to destroy our planet’s environment, the future lies amongst the stars. While Earth remains populated, inhabitants are subject to extremely poor air quality and resources are imported from across the various human colonies in the Milky Way Galaxy. Personal and corporate greed for money and power naturally continues to the dog humankind’s footsteps into the future. Nothing has really changed except that humans are scattered across the galaxy, and have brought bringing slow destruction along with them.
“Each new discovery prompted exploitation, greed, uprisings. Like humans were in an abusive relationship with the universe.”
In spite of the book’s length, I didn’t feel that our main protagonist was lacking in character development at all. Ames Emerys comes across as a relatable ordinary guy – one who doesn’t like the bulk of humanity and is highly distrustful of the current political regime, and is now on a desperate personal mission to find out what happened to his brother who was purportedly dead. The little things like Ames’s thoughts about books and even naming constellations in a far-off planet as Pirate Hook and Toilet Plunger were quite endearing. I really appreciated the author not shoehorning any romance into the story, even though the potential was there when Ames met and helped Violet (a victim of domestic abuse) on the first leg of his space travel.
“Ames wasn’t a constant reader, but the sight of books was always enough to calm him. It was like they contained the souls of long-lost friends, waiting for when you needed them to most, and he always felt better in a room that had them.”
One thing I’ve noted by the end of the book is that while there were some moments of suspense, Ames and the other protagonists seemed to have been able to to achieve what they set out to do pretty easily. There is also an economy of details in the writing as well, which is understandable given the length of the book. The ending also felt a bit abrupt and I was left with feeling that I wanted just a bit more. I definitely see possibilities for Ames’s story to continue.