Sunday, November 29, 2015

Beacon 23: The Complete NovelBeacon 23: The Complete Novel by Hugh Howey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's a lot of good things I can say about this collection of 5 stories that happen to make up one complete novel and one fairly heavy personal annoyance.

First, the good, and even a bit of the great.

It's emotional. Being a spaceways lighthouse keeper may seem like a thankless job, but strong characterization carries it off seamlessly. The poor guy starts off being the wounded war hero, but he fairly quickly descends into some rather crazy shit. It has a bit of The Martian feel without any lengthy science or the immense pathos, instead relying almost entirely on personal feelings and regular PTSD self-therapy. I thought it was quite well done, and the introduction of a rock and some bounty-hunters provided very nice comedy relief. I was quite amused.

When it gets a bit deeper with a bit of healing, I was moved and made to believe that a great deal of soul-searching and tears must have been dredged from the author. It got me in the feels.

And then it got deeper into the discussion of war. No real problems there until late, and then I get to my gripe.

I liked how personal and oddball and emotional these sections were.
But then when we got to the point where a spoiler alert is necessary...

Where a single man with the rare but oh so requisite empathic powers suddenly has the means to kill off 8 billion men and women of the great war machine, it dropped me right out of the tale and made me want to get a hammer. Sure, the big stuff is pretty cool sometimes, but in this novel, I just didn't think it was necessary at all. It stood on its own without getting cheesetastic, tyvm.

...then I just want to mourn the move from a good character study into a gimmick-grab.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe the casual partial genocide of one's own race for the benefit of peace is actually and truly justified and I'm just a lousy whiner.

Maybe I just didn't like the direction it finally took.

Sill, I think that just leaving the last short story out might have been a primo bueno move. I would have been left with something thoughtful that has a lot to say about war vets, personal culpability, healing, and perhaps a bit of madness, too. The setting would have been just a fun-as-hell gravy. :)

Howey is a pretty fine author. He has very fine sense when it comes to weaving a tale. My few quibbles shouldn't crap on the solidity of the full tale, I'm sure. He does like to surprise and twist his readers, and this does qualify. :)

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