cover image The Hard Switch

The Hard Switch

Owen D. Pomery. Avery Hill, $20.99 (100p) ISBN 978-1-910395-70-7

Pomery (Victory Point) plumbs moral imperatives and exploitation in this subdued science fiction adventure. Ada and her spaceship crewmates—Haika, the pilot; Mallic, an octopodan engineer; and a “sad fish called Jones”—extract Alcanite, a non-renewable mineral that “enables inter-system jump navigation,” from old shipwrecks. Once Alcanite is depleted, intergalactic travel will halt, isolating planets and economies and triggering a devastating “hard switch” for society. After being ambushed during an extraction, the crew embarks on a “righteous quest” to discover the origin of a mysterious, possibly life-changing metal given to Ada by a reptilian creature during the fray. The plot drags in scenes of clunky expository dialogue but eventually revs up as the crew searches for an arrogant antiquities collector. Along the way, they stumble onto a mercenary’s plot to smuggle desperate migrants for profit—“Bio-trafficking is big business these days”—and earn a target on their backs. Pomery’s earthen-colored landscapes and textured visuals, formed with architectural precision, render an elaborate universe in a style that recalls Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin. Expected yet effective plot twists create an explosive, if not quite revelatory, finale. Still, this should entice fans of Firefly and other space westerns. (Dec.)