Tag Archives: Novella

Acadie by Dave Hutchinson

Tor | 2017 (ebook: 5 September; Pb: 13 October) | c.100p | Review copy | Buy the bookAcadie by Dave Hutchinson

Duke Faraday is sleeping off the effects of his 150th birthday celebrations when he’s woken up with dire news. A probe is approaching their colony. Earth has found them. They must dismantle the whole enormous complex and move off, seeking safety in the darkness of space once more. Earth wants every one of them dead. Duke, the colony’s president, must do all he can to keep them alive. He can only hope that nobody does anything stupid with the drone, such as shoot it down. He doesn’t want to make Earth even more mad that it is already.

Acadie is a short novella by Dave Hutchinson, author of the highly original and prophetic Fractured Europe series, now complete. Hutchinson takes us away from Earth and into the realms of space, where mankind has the ability to alter itself – extra arms and legs are just the beginning. Earth itself is less keen on this tampering.

This is a very quick read at under an hour and, as with the best short stories, it left me wanting much more. There is definitely enough here to form the heart of an exciting and thought-provoking full-length novel. Dave Hutchinson is so good at coming up with ideas and backing them up with fantastic characters and such an enjoyable writing style. The wit is on display here, especially in the very likeable character of Duke.

There are hints of wonder as well as the stuff of nightmares, all told with humour and an eye for the curious. Giving nothing away, the ending packs an enormous punch. It is such a fun read. While it left me wanting much more, I certainly enjoyed what I was given. I just hope that Dave Hutchinson ventures into space again – and soon.

Advertisements

The Last Day on Earth by R.M. Allinson

Publisher: Tembara
Pages: 68
Year: 2013
Buy: Paperback, Kindle
Source: Bought copy

The Last Day on Earth by R.M. AllinsonReview
I’m not a big reader of novellas, especially short novellas, preferring instead to wallow in a slowly unfolding tale of at least 400 pages; I am a self-professed lover of the Brick Book. This week, though, I was caught short (if you pardon the expression). I had just finished one novel by an author and I was then desperate to read the next but had to wait an hour or two until I could get my hands on it. My kindle came to the rescue for the commute home courtesy of The Last Day on Earth by R.M. Allinson. While I might not be a lover of the short story, this is more than compensated for in this case by a deep appreciation of the apocalypse and so I dived in.

Allinson presents a day in the life of an Australian family, comprising 25-year-old Lucy and her parents Liz and Bill, integrated with flashbacks of events that took place two months ago. It was then that the President of the United States revealed to the world that man’s time on the planet was done. An asteroid called Cecilia would hit in two months’ time and its impact would be more devastating than that which wiped out the dinosaurs. And so, on this last day on earth, we watch Lucy in particular, but also her parents, deal with the reality of losing everything, including their dreams, in the oblivion of a random strike from space. Goodbyes to friends are said, memories are relived, regrets and grief laid bare. But through it all Lucy never despairs. Nobody despairs. Aside from accounts of mild anarchy after the news of Earth’s fate was made known, this is an end of days scenario in which at least one family has made its peace while still hoping for the best.

The Last Day on Earth rather confirmed my unsuitability as a reader of short novellas. At 68 pages long there was just enough to make me care about the characters, to feel for their situation and to dread the outcome, but it was far too brief to give me all that I wanted in terms of character and story. I couldn’t help but feel that the story had been speedily written and with a tone that was slightly too flippant for the subject, albeit perfectly suitable for a novella you’ll finish in an hour. The fact that I was disappointed by the ending didn’t help my overall dissatisfaction.

I have no doubt that The Last Day on Earth would have made an excellent full-length novel and Allinson would have done a fine job of holding my attention for 300 pages at least. I regretted there wasn’t more and that the characters hadn’t been given more time to experience the situation they found themselves in, or to explore its impact on their relationships with one another. Some explosions and fireballs would have been good. But it was not to be. The Last Day on Earth is a short novella. It is what it is and the fact that it left me crying out for more is possibly just as much a compliment as it is a complaint.

As an aside, if you’re after a cathartic two-hour end of world experience, then I can recommend the film Melancholia. It still haunts me.