cover image Brittle Star

Brittle Star

Rod Val Moore. What Books (, $14 trade paper (234p) ISBN 978-0-9889248-1-9

With the simple statement “We landed,” a nameless omniscient narrator begins the tale of academics exiled from Earth for various crimes, placed on a possibly toxic planet near the Horsehead Nebula under the easygoing thumbs of overseers called trustees. Their ship builds a residential dome where the walls are transparent and loudspeakers blare inane “maxims” to help with rehabilitation. Life drifts along in a philosophical narrative that speculates on themes of love, imprisonment, and dead planets. It becomes slightly more grounded when two professors, Knox and Krell, undertake an expedition to the polar ice cap, find an ancient Earth rocket, and become romantically attached to the same woman, Zelen. A mild and occasionally befuddling mix of Sartre and The Prisoner, Moore never lets his readers be too sure of anything, detailing existential crises yet lacking much sense of urgency. There is as much symbolism as story, and it isn’t always clear which is which. (Oct.)