The Cambridge Geek

Day 115 on an Alien World - Jeannette Bedard

This one took me a bit too long to read, though that's absolutely no fault of the book. Looking for and then acquiring a new house utterly ruined my ability to focus for long periods of time, and then Corona happened, and we've all gone a bit to pot in general.

So the first three or four chapters of this took me about six months to read.

However, I finally sat down with it this week and finished it off in a couple of sessions. Quite compelling when I gave it a fair run.

Gary has been on Thesan, a new colony planet lightyears away from Earth for 115 days, when he watches his mandated spouse die in a shuttle crash. He didn't really like Margo, being rather directly opposed in manner, with her earthy love of gardening not meshing well with his clinical approach to medicine and everything else.

They were married because colonies only take couples and the psychological testing said they were a good fit, but they hadn't managed to come to any sort of romance or intimacy in the several months of new world life.

That hadn't been helped by the various catastrophes or deaths that had struck the colony, with hull breaches, crash landings and the loss of their controlling AI.

But the loss of Margo is very much the last straw for Gary, who decides that it's finally time to put the effort in and get to know her, and so he breaks into her lab and reads her diary.

This allows the framing device of looking back into the past of the mission. Margo's life is told through these diary entries, as she struggles to find her own place on a strange planet, while indulging in a bit of romance and a bit more investigating. She's not entirely convinced all of these accidents are accidents.

It's not too fixated on hard science, so if you're here for the technical wizardry, you might be a bit disappointed. It's more of a sci-fi thriller, at which it does a decent job. The central mystery is well-built, and not one I guessed, and the balance between Gary's and Margo's stories is even. They come together quite nicely as Gary uncovers Margo's investigations.

A pleasant read, and one I'd recommend.

Score 4

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