A post-apocalyptic tale of a different kind, Impulse focuses upon humanity trying to explore and rebuild its isolated societies following the near total collapse of galactic civilisation. Determined to form a standing government, a small coalition of planets establish a project to send envoys to distant stars and unite humanity.
Effectively combining early Star Trek with Great Crusade-era Warhammer 40,000, the setting is easily the biggest draw here. From the very beginning, there is a great sense that this is a truly massive world, and Bara slowly interweaves new facts and details about the narrative as the story progresses. This works in its favour as it frees up the book to rapidly shift back and forth between the action sequences and the quieter moments between characters. The crew themselves prove to be wonderfully diverse. While often they can be slotted into various military archetypes, there’s always a human quirk to their dialogue that makes them feel far more alive.
Sadly, despite these strengths, the descriptions and details are very by-the-numbers. Certain technical operational details and the like are well thought-out, but it never enters any truly lengthy descriptions of the surroundings or technology. For such a vast world, it’s easy to feel that some of the grander and most interesting details are being overlooked as a result. At the same time, the story’s lightning pace makes it suited for light reading, but at the same time it might have benefitted from a more directly episodic format given the shifting locations.
Impulse shows what J. J. Abrams could have done with Into Darkness if he was a less obsessed with flashy effects and more interested substantial storytelling. Its ideas are what help buoy it up more than the core story, but it’s enough to warrant a proper look.