Summary

A former soldier suffering PTSD has to do it alone in the boondocks. Until the sh!t hits the fan.

Written by
Hugh Howey in 2016

Hugh Howey is famous for his short story compilations about the silos, compiled into Wool and ultimately into a trilogy of books. They are damned interesting pieces of fiction. Beacon 23 is Howey’s first foray into space, and is also a compilation of five short stories written from the perspective of one character, who remains nameless.

Set in an unspecified future time, our character mans a space navigation beacon solo, similar in purpose to a lighthouse. Throughout the book, you find out more and more about his story, and the motivations and traumas that have landed him there in the first place.

In the background, somewhere out there, is an interstellar war being fought between humanity and an alien species known as the Ryph, which forms the backbone to our protagonist’s pain.

Beacon 23 is a short book. Seriously short. However, sometimes you’ll find that brevity and quality trumps quantity and absurd detail. And despite being quite short, you understand the pain of the main character, his insecurities and madness as well.

That NASA and the various organisations still exist in some form is the base upon which the novel grounds an understanding of our time and this indeterminant future. It works well, because you don’t need to question what a “NASA” is when you’re dropped literally in the middle of nowhere in a universe with its own rules and history, all of which is slowly revealed in the book.

And a lot is revealed in a short span of time. As a compilation of short stories, each part focuses on a different aspect of our character’s experience of clawing sanity back into his life. It’s a sad, yet brilliant journey, one which I certainly wouldn’t want to go through by myself!

I know this book is probably not for everyone, no battles, not many characters, and certainly no real intrigue. But it’s enjoyable nonetheless, if you’re willing to forego some science fiction tropes.

Rating

Thoroughly enjoyable, if a little short, and its end is a little bit dubious.

Read this if you…

Enjoy some peaceful soulsearching.

Don’t read this if you…

Are looking for big spectacular aliens vs humans battles. It all ends before it begins…

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