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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

       
Engineman

Copyright 1994 by Eric Brown

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (1/5)

I first read this in November 1995 and most recently on the 13th July 2006.

Ralph Mirren was once an Engineman, one of those special few who drove the starships across the lightyears from Earth. Later, though, when the Interfaces, the gateways across space, were introduced, the starships and their crews became obsolete. The Enginemen and women were abandoned, left only with the memory of how it was when they drove the ships, and an undying addiction to how it felt.

Now, years later, Ralph and his old crew are being offered the chance to experience the transcendental feeling of FTL flight once more. Ralph will say yes, He has to say yes. He can't resist the urge to re-experience it. But he knows there's something very dangerous and possibly illegal about it.

On the planet Hennesey's Reach, Enginemen have been fighting for many years against the fascist government of the Danzig Organisation. Since the government controls the Interface, it has ensured that no news of the troubles has been reported externally, and that therefore no help will come from off planet. Now heavy weaponry is being brought to bear upon the few remaining freedom-fighters. The Enginemen of Hennesey's Reach on their own and time is running out.

In the overgrown ruins of Paris, Ella Fernandez has decided to return home. She wants to see the father she ran away from so many years ago. But her home world is Hennesey's Reach, and she is going to step into a world of pain.

Actually it's almost great but misses the mark. What Eric Brown is trying to convey is pretty cool, but his writing fails him. I finished reading it, hoping his writing would rise to the task, but it didn't and in the end the novel candiflossed out.

I would have said that you can't get more down and dirty, stoking-the-boilers sweaty, rooted in reality's here-and-now than being an traditional Steam Engineman. So I was bit taken aback by this novel in which the Engineman achieves a state of mystical ecstacy and as a side effect moves the surrounding space craft a number of light years. Even that wouldn't have been so bad, but the aliens were even more touchy-feelie mystical and further more seem to have survived in a temple hidden deep within the mountain. Well that "survived within a temple deep within the mountain" always riles me. Every time you just know that it's a cop out. I must get that two or three times a week. "Hey, Bob, where you'd get that burger?" "Incredible isn't it. Apparently it survived in a temple hidden deep within the mountain"

Not a favourite

Loaded on the 15th July 2006.
    
Cover of Engineman
Cover by Fred Gambino