Like three space stations before it, Zhiminda Station has fallen silent. Zhyara and his crew travel to the very edge of settled space to investigate. Will they find the station dead, its corridors exposed to the vacuum of space? Will they find bodies? Will they run into the unknown killers? Or is the reason much more sinister than that?The Shattered World Within brings us a very different society, governed by the delicate interplay of instincts and networks of trust. Except for when it isn't. Zhyara is the leader of an expedition to investigate a mining station that has failed to report in. When they arrive there, most of the populace is missing and things are very strange among those that remain. Through Zhyara's point of view we learn about the social order and ranking system that operates in his culture. It is as fascinating as it is unfamiliar. For all that the people in this story are humanoid, their behaviour sets them apart as truly alien to us.
This is also highlighted by Zhyara's family. Zhyara comes from a poor family and a undistinguished clan that lives on the outer edge of the city. He expends a lot of energy trying to help his younger brother make something of his life even though, since he became successful, Zhyara suddenly stopped being his mother's favourite. Through Zhyara's burgeoning understanding of what is going on with his brother, the reader is introduced to more conflicts within his society. I really have to applaud Jansen for the complex and other world she has created.
The other great aspect of this novella is the physical worldbuilding. Jansen sticks to science, as I've come to expect from her writing, and creates a believable universe. Without spoiling the ending, she also includes a more unusual but plausible planet, which I hope we will one day get to read more about.
A great read for fans of hard and sociological science fiction alike. Highly recommended.
4.5 / 5 stars
First published: February 2013, Giganotosaurus (my edition from SmashWords)
Series: Sort of. Earth-Gamra universe, but entirely standalone.
Format read: ePub on iPad
Source: Purchased from SmashWords
Disclaimer: Although Patty is a friends, I have endeavoured to give an unbiased review.
Challenges: Australian Science Fiction Reading Challenge, Australian Women Writers Challenge