Zero Station by Amanda Hamm
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Zero Station (A Science Fiction Novella) by Amanda Hamm
This will be the first of several I intend to read from Scribd. This book is available at Smashwords for a fair price and if you subscribe to Scribd you can read it there. I'm just learning a bit about Scribd and its interface I'm pleased with its readability but it has no note functions to mark and notate as you read. So I've had to keep side notes which are devilishly difficult to do because of the encryption protection so I have type everything out into my notepad. So scribd is not very user friendly for my purposes but that has no reflection on the story.
Amanda has a pretty solid plot here from front to back and it's interesting that this is told in two parts with our Main Character Hazel in part one and the Aliens in part two.
Two alien races have already made contact with earth the first when Hazel was 7 the next 25 years later and this last a crash encounter is five years beyond that so that make Hazel about 37 years old and single. Hazel Brown is a linguist and is possibly a good choice for this job. Apparently because they don't know these aliens they are trying to find people with the fewest attachments to do the work in case something happens. And that's probably the thinnest part of the plot.
The Seedidites were the first race to contact earth after observing for a long time and the Vines were the next. These two races are important because they help determine some of the direction this contact group takes. Because this is a novella the reader gets less close third POV than I would like. There was a feeling of great distance between the reader and the characters. We have a majority of the story being told in an almost stale scientific manor which takes us to that thin spot again. Because the characters are not well established as to qualifications for being there, it become impossible for the reader to know why they have been chosen for this assignment. The few that do get a nod with larger pieces of personal or professional reasons are basically framed into the rest of the story in blocks. It effectively gets the job done quickly, as we need to know some of this because of the different reactions these people are having toward the aliens in the attempt to communicate.
Strangely as things unfold the team seems to work more efficiently as diplomatic team than a scientific team as they unravel a mystery and uncover the villains in the story.
The second part of the book is almost gratuitous in that it mostly reflects what has occurred previously, but from the alien perspective and since the mystery is uncovered by then it just adds a bit of extra insight for the reader. What I found distressing was the fact that it was handled mostly as recordings from the ship logs and mostly dialogues with few if any dialogue tags and a potential group of 14 aliens so it sometimes was impossible to tell who was speaking what. Thankfully the narrative hidden under that dialogue was easy enough to follow.
I could easily have given the whole 5 stars if there had been closer involvement with the characters and if the dialogue had had a few more visible cues. So I give it a 4 star.
Overall this is a good short or novella that has potential for being a lot more which would open the potential for that character involvement that I like so much.
I recommend this to those who appreciate SFF (very light procedural) Possibly YA SFF.
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