Starship Winter by Eric Brown

PS Publishing, 2012, 76p.

This is the latest in Brown’s Starship series of novellas set on the planet of Chalcedony (Delta Pavonis IV) following on from Starship Summer and Starship Fall.

The echoes of Michael G Coney are again less strong in this volume, Brown’s themes of religion and Art being once more prominent. His use of the name spindizzy to describe a colourful butterfly-like creature is merely one nod to other SF antecedents.

Narrator David Conway’s love-lorn life is about to be leavened by the arrival from Earth of Lieutenant Hannah van Harben as a new member of the local Police Department. His community of friends will also be disturbed by the empath, Darius Dortmund, famous for brokering a peace between two quarrelling alien races. Central to the plot is Matt Somers’s latest Art Exhibition, an exploitation of the emotional qualities of sacred stones lent to him by a race known as the Elan. To say how these elements come together would, however, be a spoiler.

It is unfortunate that all this had to fit into the confined word length of a novella. The exigencies of the plot do not allow enough exploration of the situation and everything seems to happen a touch hurriedly. This is perhaps an indication that Conway’s circle is a congenial group, pleasant to spend time with.

The gaps between episodes in the Starship sequence do help to foster an anticipatory feel. If ever published between one set of covers, though, they might not work as well in combination as stand-alones.

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