Rating:

5 Small Stars
Passage of the Phoenix
833

I don’t normally read novellas. They are always too short in length and character building. This one was pretty good even though it was short. Song Coeur is the main character. He’s not going to make a lot of people happy because he’s something of a gigolo although he definitely doesn’t stay attached to any one woman for very long. He’s also an astronaut candidate for humanities first every hyperspace spacecraft and its maiden voyage. He doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the top of the class in the selection process and expects to be told to pack his bags and move on at any time.

But, of course that doesn’t happen. See, he has a special talent only found in one other human so far. That talent makes him the perfect pilot. Now he needs the perfect spacecraft. It shows up as the Phoenix, a spacecraft like no other in form and function. While all pilots have an affinity for flying craft, the craft they are flying has to be the best. And the Phoenix isn’t going to disappoint, not with the remarkable AI on-board. While Song uses his ability to see hyperspace entry and exit points, his ship, the Phoenix must fly them through those points and through hyperspace. They must work closely together as possible because one small slip and they could be lost forever in hyperspace.

As it happens, the Phoenix AI hasn’t been named because it’s pilot hasn’t formally came aboard yet. Song gets to do this and he names the AI Cassiopeia, or “Cassi” for short. Song soon finds out that Cassi isn’t a typical AI and he soon begins to wonder if she is an AI at all, but she flies the Phoenix which is a mechanical and electrical construct made by humans. But there’s something more, much more.

By the way, Broussard is a pen name for the author, but you’ll have to find his real name on your own.  If this is a first writing, then he’s got a pretty good future if he can develop this story into something every science fiction reader will want to read.  It kind of ends with the idea that there is much more to the story and we’ll just have to wait for more.

One of the things that I don’t like in science fiction books is the use of names that can’t be pronounced by normal English speaking readers. Yeah, I know that’s my problem, but if I’m going to get into a book, I’ve got to smoothly read each paragraph and not stop and say, ah, “How do I pronounce that name?”.  My usual remedy is to just skip it or make up a name I can pronounce. I don’t think making names hard to read makes the book any more real.  I’m mean, it’s all fiction anyway so why not just use Bob, Ted, Carol, and Alice or those kinds of names? You pronounce “Nimitsua”, “Song Coeur”, who names a kid, “Song”?. How about “Salrina Octavian”, easier to pronounce, but where does a name like that come from?

The other thing I noticed, and it might be minor, is that the author has some unusually long paragraphs. Most of the time, these occur when he’s doing some technical rambling. I don’t usually see a paragraph stretching the entire length of my vertically held Kind Fire HDX, but there are several in this novella.

He has a good command of the emotional side of humans. There are things at play in this book that require some in-depth behavioral analysis along with all the space and hyperspace technical jargon. To some the emotional part of the book will throw you and you’ll say it’s just down right stupid; can’t happen. Others will say, why not. Just remember, “Siri™” and “Cortana™” are both female voices; why?

I would like to read more about Song and Cassi or the Phoenix so I hope there is more to come and soon.

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