Author: Christian Cantrell
Genre: science fiction
Price: $2.99 (ebook) / $10.08 (paperback)
Publisher: Cantrell Media Company
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
I bought Christian Cantrell’s book Containment based on an Amazon recommendation and the cover, which shows a picture of the inside of a Stanford Torus, a type of orbital colony. I found the book interesting, but the cover is highly misleading. Also misleading, and deliberately so, is the novel’s blurb on Amazon. The book purports to be the story of Arik Ockley, one of the first humans born on Venus. Humanity has established a lone colony there, and Arik, after a mysterious accident, must discover artificial photosynthesis in order to assure air for his soon-to-be-born daughter.
The problem is that Arik, the book’s point-of-view character, is unreliable. A former US cabinet minister was quoted as saying there are “unknown unknowns. In other words, things we don’t know that we don’t know.” The depths of what Arik doesn’t know he doesn’t know are nearly as deep as the Marianas Trench. His attempts to fill that trench are what drives this story.
Unfortunately, because of these unknown unknowns, there is little external conflict for much of the story. Arik is just another schlep doing his thing on Venus. Also unfortunately, Mr. Cantrell, the author, is perfectly willing to stop the action mid-stream and explain a concept in perhaps more detail than is usually the case in science fiction. I personally am a hard-SF geek, and stopping to look at the shiny toys was a perfectly good use of my time. Your mileage may vary.
In many ways, the novel is the literary equivalent of the movie The Sixth Sense. Much of what we the audience see is not what we think we see. I found that interesting, but perhaps a bit unfair to the reader. Frankly, I’m not sure that there were enough clues buried into the story for us to have figured it out. Since I did, however, devour the book in one sitting, I have to say that Containment proved to be well worth my money, and recommended to all readers.