dimarts, 4 d’agost de 2015

The Apollo Quartet - Ian Sales (english review)

Disclaimer: English is my third language,  so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks. You can read this review also in spanish here.

Several laudatory reviews of the stories that make up the Apollo Quartet collection of Ian Sales, in some  friend's blogs managed to arouse my interest in the work of this English author, but I decided to wait for the publication of the joint publication of the four stories to acquire them. The author organized a draw in his blog, and, something strange considering the luck I usually have in these kind of  things, I won, so I've been enjoying these four stories ahead of schedule. If you like science fiction, you can not miss this collection of stories when published in Omnibus version, they really worth.

The four stories are very complete and I am convinced that required a lot of background documentation. The first three are clearly part of a conjunct idea with a similar structure, and the fourth has a very different style, but equally interesting.

After much doubt how to qualify the whole of the first three, I think that the genre best suited is uchrony. Uchrony with a point of hard sciencie fiction, because there are a lot of (excessive, sometimes) technical information related to the astronauts and space exploration (Ian Sales uses so many acronyms that even there is a glossary at the end of the second story, which had done well in the first, where I was kind of lost sometimes).

 Each one has a small change in the timeline of the twentieth century, usually related to the history of the United States, different in each story, they are not located in the same "universe". Simultaneously, the three have some surprising twists in the plots related to the world of mystery (and I stop talking here, because the spoilers are about to fall).

The first story, Adrift On The Sea Of Rains, puts us in a lunar base that has lost contact with Earth, because this has suffered the consequences of a world war between USA and Russia. 

 The second, The Eye With The Universe Behods Wich Itself, is possibly the one I liked most. It tells the story of the first (and only) astronaut who arrived at Mars in two phases of his life. Part of the plot narrates his journey to Mars and what he discovered there, and the second, located twenty years later, tells his expedition to an extra-solar planet, thanks to a technology that enables interstellar travel in a few days. It is a clear example of the good work of the literary style of Ian Sales, able to create a very addictive and difficult to quit narration.

The third, Then Will The Great Ocean Deep Wash Above follows two different story lines. On the one hand, because the Korean war lasts much longer than in our timeline, the first American space program is played by women. Part of the story explains their experience and the difficulties they face. In a second frame, it tells the rescue of a spy satellite that has fallen into the abyssal bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

The fourth story, All That Outer Space Allows  is hard to qualify, and clearly follows a style and structure different from the previous three. It tells the story of the wife of one of the Apollo XV astronauts (which in reality was the astronaut James B Irwin ). There are few elements of science fiction and there is no change in the timeline. In this story the author makes an exercise of metaliterature, taking advantage that the protagonist is a writer of science fiction, Sales pays tribute to the femenine authors of genre of half of the twentieth century and to the role of astronauts' women. The story includes quotes, biographies, stories written by the main character, personal opinions and NASA documents amid the main narration creating a slightly confusing mix, but very interesting and original. He even refers to his previous stories.

In short, a very interesting author, who caught me with his narrative style and his ideas. Too bad that at times the stories suffer from an excess of technical information and the end of some of them are too abrupt and some of the interesting plot changes are not developed.

He is now working on a series of space opera that looks pretty good and is getting good reviews. One more novel to read.

EDIT: I must correct something. The last story has changes that I didn`t detect in the first read, so it's a kind of uchrony, too. In the story the most important authors of science fiction are women, not men, as it happened really. 

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