Reviewed: 2014-07-05 - (Review Updated: 2014-07-06)
This is more of a general review of Colin Barrett's writing than it is of this story specifically.
To begin, the Eden series, which includes Eden, Return to Eden, and Eden Rescue, is one of the more interesting takes on the alien encounter sub-genre of science fiction that I've read. The aliens that Colin has created really are "alien". By this I mean that they have a consistent rationale for their actions, but one that is sufficiently different from human behavior that it allows the stories to ask some interesting questions about what it means to be human. To me, this is the essence of good science fiction -- not "gee wiz" gadgets, but using the unconventional reality as a lens to more closely examine the human condition.
You will notice that I mention a novel titled Eden Rescue. This is my first review here at SoL and I hope that I'm not going out of bounds by mentioning that Colin has several novels available at Amazon which have not been posted here. One of these is Eden Rescue, which concludes the Eden trilogy. I don't want to say a lot about this book so as to avoid spoilers, but I will say that it ties the whole experience of humans with the Edenites into most satisfactory conclusion, with several good plot twists along the way.
I would also like to recommend AI, a novel about a self-aware computer, that at times reminded me of R A Heinlin's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It was an interesting read and asked some good questions about morality and what it means to be human. I'd have to say though, that there was a slightly greater than normal need to suspend disbelief -- some of the technical details were a bit hard to accept for someone with a computer science background.
His novel Castaway, a sort of "ET" for grown-ups was also interesting and one that I would recommend. And the novel that I'm currently reading, Caveman, a time-travel story in which a Cro-Magnon man finds himself in the present.
What sets Colin's writing apart is the characters. In general, they are both realistic, and for me at least, likable. As I read, I find myself both identifying with them and caring about what happens to them. Good writing does this.
And the dialogue, when it is used, is believable. It sounds like a conversation that people really could be having. This is not a small point. Good dialogue sounds like a simple conversation, but it is anything but simple to write.
Finally, I'd like to complement the overall technical quality of the stories. A badly written story is like watching a film on an analogue TV with a poor picture. Yes, it is possible to follow the plot, and even to be involved to some extent, but the experience is lacking when compared to watching a Blu Ray disk of the same film. With Colin's stories, the lapses (if in fact there are any) are sufficiently rare that they simply are not a factor in the experience of the story. Given the number of writers these days, including some who have made "squillions" from their writing, who struggle with homonyms, punctuation and simply choosing the right word, it is refreshing to read an author whose writing really flows.
This is added in an edit. I forgot to mention that the sex tends to be very understated in Colin's writing. This is not "turn you on" writing, though with a good imagination there are "moments".
Thanks again, Colin, for sharing your work.