Thursday, April 19, 2012

Perigee - Patrick Chiles


Perigee is a science fiction thriller and the first of hopefully many offerings from new author Patrick Chiles. It is an eloquent work of near future science fiction. The writer's clarity and ability to present a fair amount of technical information without confusing the reader is commendable. In fact, I believe the quality of writing may be the novel's greatest strength.

Closer to hard science fiction than thriller, Perigee is the story of a potential disaster in the sub space air travel industry when passenger craft, the Austral Clipper, experiences technical failure and is marooned in orbit. When a daring rescue attempt fails, the crew is faced with dwindling options and desperate passengers, one of whom becomes problematic. In places, the story has elements of suspense particularly when building up the industrial espionage and sabotage aspects of it.

For me, the story was slow to develop but worth it in the end. In the final third of the book  the pace picked up and a few more connections could be made. I would have preferred more action in the story and less of the realistic sounding character interactions, as odd as that seems. Given the author's background I have no doubt the technical conversations and various government agency involvements make for an authentic reading experience. Unfortunately, I found that the jargon and feeling of being right in the middle of  planning and operation type discussions just didn't hold my interest. It's entirely a personal preference and readers of hard fiction, or those more familiar with the aeronautical field might find this a thoroughly enjoyable read. The technical descriptions were fascinating and the casual toned author's note at the end was almost as interesting as the story.

Throughout the novel the writing was superb and based on the quality, this book would easily rate between four and five stars. However, most book review ratings are based on personal preference and how much the reader liked the story. In that respect, for me it was less. I still think it would be a highly worthwhile read for technically inclined science fiction fans.

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