The Fortress at the End of Time

Joe M. McDermott. Tor, $19.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9280-0
A military officer suffers through a nightmarish posting on the furthest edges of human civilization in this introspective, oddly subdued far-future tale. Ensign Ronaldo Aldo just wants to fly spaceships, but instead he’s trapped aboard the Citadel, a claustrophobic space station, where he’s surrounded by corrupt colleagues and neglectful superiors with absolutely no hope of escape or promotion. As he whiles away his days, plagued by bad luck and poor choices, he struggles to reconcile his principles with the ways things are actually done on the Citadel. Eventually, he chooses to do the unthinkable in a final attempt to change his dead-end existence. Though McDermott (Maze) introduces some intriguing concepts, such as humankind spreading through space with the use of so-called quantum clones, the execution suffers from stilted dialogue and emotional detachment, as well as a general air of apathy and fatalism; whether Aldo is pursuing romance or watching a crewmate die horribly, his narration never fully engages the reader. This passionless, purposeless, high-concept story never truly hits its mark, and the conclusion will leave readers cold. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/05/2016
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-7653-9281-7
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