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Lights in the Deep Paperback – August 26, 2013
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If you are a fan of sci-fi, this collection is for you. You'll find great stories that will remind you why you love this genre. The stories are expertly written and I'm going to mention a few of my favorites.
"Outbound" is the first story, (technically a novella at about 43 pages long) and describes the life of a young man who survives a world ending war only to find himself on a craft heading for the outer solar system. The trip will take decades, maybe longer. Torgersen deftly keeps up the tension and suspense as this poor man makes his way across trillions of miles of space. I stayed up hours past my bedtime reading this story and it will leave you with hope and make you glad you bought the collection. The award nominations were well deserved. I love this story and it rocked my world.
"Gemini 17" reminded me of the recent movie, Gravity, as it involves a space disaster, but this tale is alternate history and takes place in the early days of Earth's space program. It's fascinating and leaves you wondering about the interesting "what if" scenario Torgersen created.
"The Chaplain's Assistant" is a great character story about the assistant to a chaplain put into a crazy position on an alien planet. He navigates a bizarre relationship with a representative of an alien race who can destroy what's left of humanity on the world where they live. This story ponders the big questions worth asking. The follow up to this story is a long novella also in this collection, "The Chaplain's Legacy" and is every bit as good as the original. The full novelization of this tale, The Chaplain's War will be released by Baen Books sometime in 2014 and I'm really looking forward to that.
"Exanastasis" is a classic and great sci-fi story that explores a theme related to the title of the story, which is ancient Greek for resurrection, or rising again. This was the first story I ever read by Torgersen a few years back and I found on my second read that it was still just as good. I can see why it won Writers of the Future for him.
"Ray of Light" is tied for first place as the best story in the book, right up there with "Outbound." This story book-ends the collection and is about a post-apocalyptic Earth where almost all life on the planet has been destroyed and covered by a thick layer of ice. A tiny pocket of survivors lives near volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean, and has been hiding there for a very long time. This is a brilliant character story with excellent sci-fi themes. It hits all the right notes and most importantly, it will make you feel something at the end.
Overall, this collection is great reading, as you can read a whole story or novella in an hour or two (maybe three hours for "The Chaplain's Legacy") but it'll leave you satisfied. These stories won't leave you bummed out or angry about the ending, but intrigued and interested in reading more. Just for the stories I mentioned above, this collection is worth it and there are four other stories for you to discover I didn't review.
Lights in the Deep is highly recommended for sci-fi fans or those who always meant to read sci-fi. Now is your chance to get around to it.
Start with "Outbound." You'll thank me later.
For the record Mr. Torgersen doesn't know me from Adam. I cant think that I have spoken more than a dozen words to him outside of writing conventions like LTUE, so I am not talking up a friend here. I'm talking up a writer that I have found that I truly enjoy.
I did finish this book and enjoyed all of the stories and the short essays. Very much worth the time to read and I am still looking forward to Brad's next offering.
RACERS OF THE NIGHT. Before I get into the individual stories, let me just mention that I love the little afterwords that Torgersen adds after each piece, giving us an insight into his creative process. They should be required reading for aspiring genre writers. And these gems are written in such an accessible style, like you’re hanging out with him at a con suite and having a friendly conversation.
I had not yet read “Outbound.” It was a revelation to me, as it had been to Stanley Schmidt when he found it in his slush pile. Editors live for such discoveries, and I envy Stan the excitement of being gobsmacked by “Outbound” and Brad back when he was running Analog (it’s in this book’s Introduction by Schmidt – one of three introductions, the other two by Mike Resnick and Allan Cole) . My brain, nearly shorting out, kept going over the absolutely satisfying perfection of the story. “Outbound” resonates on so many levels: entertainment is too lax a word of it as it also achieves perfection in myth and literature and hard science, the kind of science that is all too lacking in much of the genre. I was particularly taken with the brilliance of literary devices like uploading his protagonist’s mind to the ship’s AI, which shortened the reader’s perception of the enormous amount of time it took to get to the Kuiper Belt and Oort cloud. It’s also ultimately a superversive work: despite horrific things happening, it was hopeful and positive in a sea of depressing, dystopian narratives. If you have not read it, I’ve given away enough already. Go. Read and marvel.
I’m not a fan of alternative history, but “Gemini 17” is a story about the space program, and how it could have shaken out if both the USSR and USA had not waited on the next generation of space craft for a moonshot. Fantastic period piece, and history really could have happened that with with very few tweaks. The way our intrepid astronaut gets his unexpected help and helps back is very possible, too, but only because of the limits of that day’s technology.
I would have read “The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project” for the title alone. Bullfrog is a town, and our hero started a little community radios station when he retired. Which got into helping an amateur SETI set up with broadcast content. The FCC becomes the least of his problems.
In the fascinating “Exiles of Eden” humanity has a galactic foe who uses a new and cunning weapon against the survivors of their purges. But humans are cunning, too.
As an editor who specializes in finding new talent–25% of our stories are first-time publications for their authors– I found Brad Torgeren’s first-published story, “Footprints” to be a wonderful offering. I certainly would have bought it. Note to writers just starting out: he was not paid for this story, but used it as a cover-letter credit, and to hone his skills. Well, in this collection, he is certainly getting paid for it now.
Pretty interesting: “The Exchange Officers” talks of what Torgersen calls “chair jockeys operating robots” – in a remotely-controlled space battle.
“The Chaplain’s Assistant” has an assistant to a young assistant chaplain stuck a crazy position on an alien planet. He has to figure out how to be a peacemaker while making peace with himself. The follow-up novella, “The Chaplain’s Legacy” is not merely riffing on the success of the earlier story. It is all expanded into The Chaplain’s War (Baen), which I heartily recommend.
Torgersen’s “Writers of the Future” win was for “Exanastasis,” a story about resurrection. Add a star if you are a student of Greek myths, but really, this is all about the future the way Stross’ Accelerondo is.
I said enough about the underwater “Ray of Light” in my first paragraph. It is, by the way, illustrated by the collection’s title, and it’s a wonderful denouement to a fine collection.
Most recent customer reviews
Imaginative, exciting, heartfelt. Great stories in the vein of the best of the Golden Age of science fiction.Read more