The Cambridge Geek

The Hyacinth Disaster

The MRS Hyacinth is a mining ship, but today, it's on a rescue mission. Its sister ship, the MRS Corvis, has been captured by a rival corporation, as it tried to sneakily mine an asteroid in their territory. Now their parent corporation is denouncing all knowledge (bit risky to admit you're invading someone else's land (space?), and refusing to pay the ransom being demanded for the release of the Corvis, its Captain Amber Roth and its crew.

Luckily, the crew of the Hyacinth, captained by "Con" have a plan. They've managed to gain the assistance of a young, office-based, surveyor, who has the location of a rock that's probably got a decent score on it. If the Hyacinth can find it, and it contains a big enough haul of valuable metals, they can swap its location with their parent corporation for the paying of the ransom.

Now, since this is presented as the contents of the black box of the end result of the Hyacinth disaster, it's not a spoiler to say that they're going to have a few troubles on the way. As both Armageddon and Deep Impact so accurately showed us, mining in space is a bit risky. It requires power armour, extensive drilling, ground-pounding sensor equipment and a lot of grit.

Which is why the people involved in doing it tend to be so grizzly. Hell, one of them is literally called Grimm. Effectively everything that can go wrong, does. There's severe falls into crevasses, loss of equipment, treason and it's all having to be done with tools wildly out of date, and poorly maintained. There are also worrying suggestions of bite marks on some of it.

It's an exciting tale, and the writing in the dialogue is very good. The team feel like they've been working together for years, and there's some nice moments with the new kid being put in his place by the grumpy old miners who've been doing it a very long time. The events of the episodes are well spaced, with some good cliffhangers, and a lot of excitement built into how everything goes wrong.

Trouble is, weirdly, I found that everything going wrong a bit too much of a downer. As a complete piece, it's honestly rather brilliant. It's a good tale, it's told well (though occasionally the dodgy radio static is painfully overpowering), and the production values are great. But it's so miserable. Now granted, that's a factor of taste, and if it were to act as a prologue to something else (see eg the start of the Expanse series), it might be more happily received.

Still, the fact that you worry so much about the risk to the characters is a testament to how strong they are. They've each got a distinct personality, and the interactions between them are great fun. If you're a fan of space disasters, this should probably be near the top of your "to listen" list somewhere.

Score 4

Tagged: Audio fiction Drama Cast Found footage Science Fiction Serial