Better World by Autumn Kalquist – short fiction review

"Better World" by Autumn Kalquist.
“Better World” by Autumn Kalquist.
I initially came across Better World by Autumn Kalquist due to ads on Facebook (so apparently they work, sometimes) which kept promising me it was the best new science fiction series and that I would love it, so I decided to try it out.

After leaving a doomed Earth, colony ships have plied the darkness between the stars, looking for the metal required to build the jumpgates which allow them to go even farther in their search for a new Earth on which to settle. The colonists on each ship are divided, with some of them getting more privileges and better treatment than the others. Not everyone is happy with that arrangement.

Maeve is one of the “subs”, those who live and work on the sub-levels to keep the ships working. After they arrive at a planet which may contain the metal they seek, she volunteers to go down as one of the first wave in order to save the life of a good friend. Unfortunately, she has to go down in the company of one of the enforcers who seems to have a grudge against her. What could go wrong?

Better World starts off well, and gets right into the mind of the main character. She is not happy with her life, especially since her parents were killed unnecessarily by one of the enforcers. Maeve is an interesting character, and has a lot of potential, but this story doesn’t delve into that enough for me. The novella was obviously written to be part of a series, so the author was likely holding back to go into things in more detail later. This is not always an effective strategy, and it fell a little flat here.

I really liked the idea behind the story, but I thought it should have been a bit longer, and resolve things better. The story felt forced into the size of a novella, as if it was actually the first act of a regular novel. The story just begins to get interesting and it ends.

Better World piqued my interest well enough to download it and read it, and I will likely be picking up the rest of the series to see what happens. As far as science fiction goes, this is fairly light science fiction. The story is definitely about the characters and how oppressed they are, but the story is strong enough to carry the message without it being overwhelming.

Release Date: June 10, 2015 (USA)
ISBNs: 069246851X (9780692468517)
Publisher: Diapason Publishing
Language: English

MySF Rating: Three point five stars
Family Friendliness: 85%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (brief mentions, one drinking party)
Language: 2 (mostly minor, a few stronger)
Sexuality: 2 (brief lesbian encounter)
Violence: 2 (torture, gruesome injury described in detail, some death)

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