Rod Val Moore (author); BRITTLE STAR; What Books Press (Fiction: Science Fiction) 14.00 ISBN: 9780988924819
Byline: Anna Call
Dualities of hot and cold, zealous and level-headed, distinguish characters and their flaws in this hilarious sci-fi work.
Set in a universe where all work is academic, Brittle Star follows the journey of a shipload of prisoner pioneers as they establish a penal colony on a bare yellow planet somewhere near the Horsehead Nebula. Their crimes silly and their survival skills nonexistent, the prisoners flounder for purpose until a single rebel dares to break from the establishment. This hilarious allegory for the follies of the ivory tower is a promising debut by talented newcomer Rod Val Moore.
Displaying a balance of lyrical style with breezy readability, Brittle Star is an unusual mix of literary and accessible. Though technology is integral to the story, it plays out mostly as a metaphorical device. A handful of shrunken astronauts from an ancient spaceship are an excellent example. Primarily, they represent the prisoners' last idealized hope, the ironically larger-than-life adults doomed to disappoint.
Higher education is Brittle Star's central theme, and Moore skewers it merrily. The professor-prisoners are essentially incapable of doing real work, aside from conducting a series of oddly incongruous classes. Main character Knox, for example, spends his first few months as the colony's official dance instructor. Indeed, there's no need for pioneer hardship; the prisoners are provided with everything from clothing to food. The dome that cultures their minds also restrains their minds, stunting them beyond the ability to function in the outside world.
The pervasiveness of the central theme, as well as Knox's superiority, are overt throughout the entire book. However, the narrator's perspective gives Brittle Star a twist that...