At the Speed of Light

Yes, it’s another review of a “new” book – you know, the whole reason people give me books to review.

Simon Morden is a name only appearing once here before – in the very first blog post. Impressed enough by his “Never, Never, Three Times Never”, I kept his name in mind. So, when NewCon Press was offering review copies of this, I asked for one.

Review: At the Speed of Light, Simon Morden, 2017.

Cover by Chris Moore

You wake up to a voice telling you repeatedly to “Get up”. Your body is covered with a green gel. Well, maybe it’s not your body. It has no hair. It has no genitals.

You get up. Then the voice keeps repeating “Get dressed”. You stagger to a door with strange markings and into a room where a spacesuit awaits.

After dressing, the voice says “Prepare for reduced gravity”. And your body tries to reorient yourself to the room as your up and down shift about.

Your name is Corbyn. This is a recurring dream you tell your therapist.

Morden’s novel is divided into four parts with Corbyn’s conception of his place in the moral and physical universe shifting with each one as he discovers more truth and must decide how to act on it.

To say more would spoil the suspense in Morden’s story. It shifts between detailed hard science adventure and vague cultural extrapolation, but the surprising combination works in what, for all practical purposes, is a tale with only Corbyn on stage but his acts potentially significant on a cosmic and human scale.

A quick and engaging read.

Spoilers and Additional Thoughts

Corbyn is, in fact, not a person but an artificial intelligence managing a ramjet starship hurtling through the universe at a substantial fraction of the speed of light. Continue reading

After the End


The well-done post-apocalypse story is a literary post-mortem on civilization. At its best, it looks at the wreckage of society to examine not only the workings of its physical infrastructure but the architecture of the human mind and soul.

Once upon a time, I read a fair number of these, but I sort of drifted away from it. In the last couple of years, by accident, I’ve read more than usual in the sub-genre.

Oh there’s still a lot of these stories published. But zombies have taken over the genre. Many self-published works seem to be survivalist manuals — not that anything is wrong with that.  Some of Dean Ing’s works fit in that category as does, to some extant, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s Lucifer’s Hammer. However, who knows how many of these are badly written political screeds or how to manuals?

And I have little interest in YA novels. Even when I was the target age, I usually didn’t care for teenaged protagonists.

So, hoping to see what had been going on with the theme recently, I requested Paula Guran’s After the End: Recent Apocalypses. Continue reading