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Strata [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Gaskell , Bradley Beaulieu
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $0.99

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Book Description

Strata is a stand-alone novella by two Writers of the Future Award winners.

It's the middle of the twenty-second century. Earth's oil and gas reserves have been spent, but humankind's thirst for energy remains unquenched. Vast solar mining platforms circle the upper atmosphere of the sun, drawing power lines up from the stellar interior and tight-beaming the energy back to Earth. For most of the platforms' teeming masses, life is hard, cramped--and hot. Most dream of a return Earthside, but a two-way ticket wasn't part of the benefits package, and a Sun-Earth trip doesn't come cheap.

Kawe Ndechi is luckier than most. He's a gifted rider--a skimmer pilot who races the surface of the sun's convection zone--and he needs only two more wins before he lands a ticket home. The only trouble is, Kawe's spent most of his life on the platforms. He's seen the misery, and he's not sure he's the only one who deserves a chance at returning home.

That makes Smith Pouslon nervous. Smith once raced the tunnels of fire himself, but now he's a handler, and his rider, Kawe, is proving anything but easy to handle. Kawe's slipping deeper and deeper into the Movement, but Smith knows that's a fool's game. His own foray into the Movement cost him his racing career--and nearly his life--and he doesn't want Kawe to throw everything away for a revolt that will never succeed.

One sun. Two men. The fate of a million souls.

"Strata is simply an excellent science fiction novella that feels like a showcase for potential further novels in this universe. I definitely hope we'll see more." -

"A twisted, fast-paced SF novella." - Fantasy Book Critic
"Intelligent science fiction." -
"The conceit of mixing solar engineering with a revolution ... is an inspired mix." - Paul Weimer,

Editorial Reviews


"Strata is simply an excellent science fiction novella that feels like a showcase for potential further novels in this universe. I definitely hope we'll see more." -
"A twisted, fast-paced SF novella." - Fantasy Book Critic
"Intelligent science fiction." -
"The conceit of mixing solar engineering with a revolution ... is an inspired mix." - Paul Weimer,

Product Details

  • File Size: 265 KB
  • Print Length: 89 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006P40OHO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,417 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Strata is a novella co written by Stephen Gaskell and Bradley Beaulieu. I have not previously read anything by Gaskell, but I have read The Winds of Khalakovo, by Beaulieu.

Set a century and a half in the future, on a sprawling mining platform orbiting the Sun, Strata is the story of redemption, second chances, sacrifice, and revolution. Oh, and racing. One must not forget racing. Skimming on the surface of the sun racing, that is.

Smith Poulson used to be a racer. What better sport can distract the company-town impoverished workers on platforms like Exx-Pac than have the corporations who have built the platforms outfit and sponsor daredevils who compete with each other, using flimsy ships on dangerous courses in the outer photosphere of the sun. Exciting, two person races for prestige and possibly even a ticket back home to Earth make racing even more alluring for the deadly dangerous. Poulson used to be a racer, and used to be active in local worker politics, until an accident (or was it sabotage?) ended the one career and scared him off the other. Now he is lower management, a union representative, with a pretty trophy wife and a relatively quiet life. He's a lifer with no prospect or even motivation of leaving the platform for Earth, but his lot could be worse, right?

Now, a young racer named Kami, and the prospects of labor unrest on the platforms, and a plan to upset the apple cart for good threaten to suck him back both into worker politics as well as racing. And in the process, Poulson is faced to confront the truths that he has closed his eyes to for a very long time.

The strengths of Strata are many.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good SF novella January 21, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Bradley P. Beaulieu is an author who doesn't exactly need an introduction, with his debut The Winds of Khalakovo, he definitely garnered attention from many readers. He had also attended the Clarion Workshop which was the common ground with his fellow collaborator Steven Gaskell. The kernel of the story came to Brad in 2008 and he wanted to explore more of the story however he needed someone with a more SF-tuned style to help him with it and so he turned to Steven whose works reminded him of Robert Charles Wilson and Robert J. Sawyer. They originally planned it to be a short story of around seven thousand words however the end result after three years was a novella of more than thirty thousand words.

The story begins rather quickly and introduces the reader to the racing team of Kawe Ndechi and Smith Pouslon, who as a pair shine spectacularly by combining Smith's experience and Kawe's natural racing brilliance. He's a winning racer and a couple more races will get him off the Sun's mining platform on a one way ticket back to Earth however Kawe's not really aiming for just a win, what he has in mind will not only clash with Smith's age-worn wisdom but also his heart felt desire. However if the thing is to be accomplished for the rights and lives of the workers on the solar mining platforms, it will only be possible when these two come together to pool their exuberant talents. The racing storyline runs parallel to a worker-management battle which has been silently raging for the past few years and Smith is one such casualty. He however does not wish for Kawe to emulate him in this unfortunate regard but fate and the Movement will not let Kawe go.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novella might be about 19th century Welsh or Appalachian miners or 20th century third-world oil field workers pushed forward in time, for the story's 22nd century energy miners held in company indenture in colonies on the surface of the sun are their brothers.
The company ship is tight: contracts with plenty of small print signed by semi-illiterate workers upheld by courts of law, company stores to guarantee lifetime servitude, paramilitary units to thwart rebellion, and plenty of drugs. Oh, and racing! People need to get their kicks in some way other than barroom brawls.
Tiny bullet shaped ships skim the outer surface of the sun (the photosphere), dodging solar flares and trying to keep above the lethal solar corona as the drivers race each other, with a ticket back to Earth as the ultimate prize. The racers are a semi-elite group among the commoners, making the sport a natural seat of rebellion, watched carefully by the powers that be.
Kawe, the young star driver carries the fire of revolution. Poulson, his handler, injured and disillusioned, carries only smoldering ashes. But, with proper bellows....
All authors, please note: this novella is proof that it IS POSSIBLE to produce a Kindle book FREE OF TYPOS and automatic spell check anomalies.
I highly recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great novella, wish it had been longer! February 4, 2012
By Stefan
Format:Kindle Edition
In this novella, Beaulieu and Gaskell introduce us to a dystopian, corporate-dominated far future, in which workers struggle for their rights while slaving away on the energy harvesting platforms that orbit the Sun. With echoes of many of today's political issues, Strata is an intelligent, well-written, and character-driven story of personal and political struggle.

Strata manages to pack quite a bit of action and tension into such a short amount of space. Presented from two perspectives - Poulson's and Kawe's, the authors offer us a glimpse into the brutal, soul-destroying lives of the workers on the Sun platforms. Contracted as indentured slaves, effectively, the working population of these platforms have few outlets or diversions. One of them is the racing, which mixes speed and danger in equal measures sure to excite the down-trodden workers of the platform and give them a momentary respite from the brutal, baking work conditions to which they are subjected daily.

Through the discussions between Poulson and Kawe, as well as the work of the Movement (an underground resistance to the official, corporate overlords), we learn more of the "extra-legal" status of these platforms around the sun and the illegal work conditions this allows, and the power of the corporations to change rules to suit their needs and profit-margins. The Movement are fighting for their rights against the corporations that seem to be winning "stunning" legal victories for even more perfect deals and so forth. It's not difficult to spot parallels with today's legal and political battles in the United States and elsewhere (but particularly Wisconsin - Beaulieu's home state).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
I really enjoyed this story. The authors put me right there in that dark future. I just wish it was longer! It wasa great read.
Published 14 months ago by lizard51
1.0 out of 5 stars Outer space racing plus
If your asteroid was owned by Earth and your nation wanted to declare freedom, what lengths would your citizens go to? Shades of American Revolution? Sabotage? Worse?
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced SF in a convincing environment
Strata is a great read. It packs a lot into a small(ish) space, from the opening action (remember Wipeout? Read more
Published on March 14, 2012 by Neil M
4.0 out of 5 stars Strata
An engaging read, I would recommend this book. I don't usually read science fiction, but really enjoyed the story and the language.
Published on March 14, 2012 by RedRose
4.0 out of 5 stars Strata The Movie?
The other reviews here already give a good flavour of what this novella's all about - I'll just note that one of my first thoughts on finishing it was, "I could see this being made... Read more
Published on March 13, 2012 by Dan Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars A revolution in the Sun's orbit
In the 22nd century, resource depletion and Earth's ever-increasing energy demands have led humanity to a brand new frontier: huge platforms circle the Sun and draw energy directly... Read more
Published on February 29, 2012 by Stefan
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart SF Thriller
I was a big fan of Bradley Beaulieu's debut novel The Winds of Khalakovo. It's an incredibly nuanced epic fantasy set in a Cyrillic-esque second world (full review). Read more
Published on January 27, 2012 by Justin Landon
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent sci-fi novella
Before I begin to write this review, I'll mention that Stephen Gaskell was an unknown author to me (I remember hearing about him, but this was the first time that I read something... Read more
Published on January 19, 2012 by "Seregil of Rhiminee"
5.0 out of 5 stars A space operette of a novella
If you like well-written, thrilling science fiction with believable characters, stop reading and buy Strata already. It doesn't come much better than this. Read more
Published on January 1, 2012 by F. M. Kleijne
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