SPSFC2 Quarterfinalist Review: Those Left Behind, by N.C. Scrimgeor
As with the first round of the competition, these reviews reflect my own opinion and not those of the other members of Team Escapist.
This story gave me good vibes. I liked it despite a few setbacks, including (at times) unclear dialogue. A little confusing to determine who is speaking between Alvera and her AI when italics are used without quotation marks, especially when the AI can also speak through speakers. Also, the use of first names, and then sometimes last names, made keeping track of characters a problem. Should be a little more clear for readers (especially at the beginning when we’re still being introduced to the characters) so they don’t have to think about these things- it draws them out of the story, and you don’t want that- even for a second. Fortunately, as I got to know the characters, and the author's style better, this wasn't such an issue later in the story.
Very interesting set-up with both an ‘escape from Earth’ and ‘colonization’ feel to it. Two scifi staples that I enjoy. But besides my personal likes, the author has a really good way with words and descriptions. Many moments had me sitting back to think, in a good way. One line in particular …
“… We might have just sentenced billions of innocent people to death to buy the time we need to save our own skins. To pretend we have any integrity left is an insult to their memory. We’re doing this because we have no other choice. And neither do you.”
The story has good pacing. Just before the 20% mark (maybe a little early), a new world is introduced and characters are thrown into turmoil after having established the base work of the character’s normal lives. There is a defined antagonist, and accompanying antagonists. Complications and a wide variety of interesting characters.
Half way through the story, the characters become separated, each with their own set of complications and tension, and I enjoyed their stories as they progressed toward a sort of ‘reunion’. I like an ensemble cast. It gives me choices. Especially when they’re each given a voice, and each separate storyline progresses the actual overall story.
And if I’m not mistaken, I sensed hints of Mass Effect and Star Wars throughout story. Two iconic scifi masterpieces that the author treats with respect.
Overall, a well balanced, well written, story.