Tuesday, June 25, 2013

REVIEW: Drifting Away

Title: Drifting Away
Author: Stefano Costantini
Genre: science fiction
Price: $6.20 (ebook) / $11.24 (paperback)
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 978-1484988800
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

I am the semi-official resident reviewer of science fiction, and as somebody who’s written two SF novels set on Mars, I confess to just a bit of an interest in Mars.  (I’m not addicted – I can quit any time.  Really.)  So, when Stefano Costantini’s query for a Mars-based novel hit my inbox, I accepted.  Alas, I am underwhelmed with Mr. Costantini’s novel Drifting Away.

From the back-cover blurb, the set-up is that in the late 23rd Century, Mars is an independent republic, yet one in which (at fair inconvenience) they forcibly synchronize their 24.5 hour day to Earth’s 24.0 hour clock.  (This means waking up in the “morning” when it’s full dark outside and going to bed at local sunrise.)  At any rate, the two planets are drifting away, so the Earth Association is attempting to combat this drift by running a youth exchange program.  Yet Martian kids are suddenly dying of measles, and their despondent mothers are killing themselves.  A pair of men decides to investigate.

Executed competently, this could have been an interesting book, and the twist ending could have worked nicely.  It was not executed competently.  Some of this is mechanical.  For example, Costantini doesn’t use quotes to separate dialog, rather dashes.  Speaking of dialog, most of the book’s dialog does not sound like real humans talking to one another; rather it is exposition or declaration.

Speaking of exposition, the first sixteen (albeit brief) chapters are nothing but exposition.  The world exposed therein is somewhat interesting, but still, sixteen (16) (!) chapters of exposition?  Nor does Costantini seem to have a good grasp on the logistics of living on Mars.  On his Mars, one can move from building to building merely by wearing a breathing mask.  On the real Mars, current surface pressure is way too low for that to happen.  Nor has Costantini heard of centrifugal force – his long-haul spaceliners are zero-gee the whole way. 

In short, I was underwhelmed by Drifting Away.


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