BOOK REVIEW: THE LONELY DARK / AUTHOR: REN WAROM / PUBLISHER: FOX SPIRIT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The Lonely Dark is a fascinating sci-fi novella about deep space travel, self-discovery and isolation. It’s the story of Ingmar and Yuri, two people without family who have been chosen to serve as the living computers of a deep space colony ship, the Irenon.
Previous attempts at using Artificial Intelligences for this role have been met with failure, so human minds have been chosen to perform the task of running the starship. These two people, called Cerenauts, are put into a deep sleep but their minds are free to roam the confines of the spaceship and also play within the artificial worlds created by their own minds. After work, they rest and dream. Trapped in the confines of a machine, but free in a different sort of way, the Cerenauts are a paradox and an enigma.
Author Ren Warom writes in a free-flowing, personal and highly evocative way. This is a tale of introspection and much of the action takes place in the protagonist’s mind. What could have easily become a drawn out exercise in navel gazing becomes a thrilling journey into the unknown, fraught with both paranoia and self-discovery.
The character building is lightly done, with just enough shown to the reader to keep you engaged. The Artificial Intelligence, the Danai, is particularly fascinating; its ghost-like presence haunts the entire work, the machine’s gentle understanding lending a subtle level of depth to the piece.
The Lonely Dark is a firm example of the story suiting the format. Its novella length is perfect for the story. There’s enough space for necessary character exploration and world building, but without getting bogged down in shoe-gazing boredom. This is a deep and intelligent story that will stay with you for some time after reading, and you will want to read it again and again.
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