This novella was provided to me by the publisher at no cost.
I haven’t read the first Genrenauts story, so there was a bit of a surprise in the backstory of one of the characters, but nothing game changing. Other than that, it’s a straightforward idea – especially if you’ve read the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next books, as I have (well most of them. They lost their appeal after about the fifth book): sometimes there are breaches in what’s happening in stories, or genres more broadly, and they need to be fixed before the ripples affect Earth Prime.
This story (and I think the first one too) are largely told from the point of view of a new officer – of course; it makes the storytelling so much easier. This time there’s a problem in the science fiction area, so off the crew go in the Firefly-esque mode to a Deep Space Nine-esque station, to figure out what’s going on.
I’m really happy with the theory here.
However, I wasn’t thrilled with the execution. I thought that the story forgot its genrenaut aspect too often and strayed into straight Science Fiction Action without commentary. There was some excellent commentary on the idea of the Action Hero and what that archetype is allowed to do, but that wasn’t nearly as dominant or as thoughtful as I had hoped. Additionally, it was completely unclear to me whether what was going on in the plot of the in-story story (like the play within the play) was actually a breach, and therefore a problem. This is queried once in the story itself, and I wondered whether this is an ongoing teasing thread throughout the series (there’s at least one story to come), but if that’s the case then it’s neither been set up strongly enough to be intriguing nor set up subtly enough to pack a real surprise at the eventual reveal.
For me, then, this is heavier on the promise than on the delivery.