Monday, 28 August 2017

Contamination by Patty Jansen

Contamination by Patty Jansen is a novella in a new series of novellas. It stands alone well enough, but I can also see how it's a good set up for an ongoing episodic series. It's near-/mid-future SF, set on  a space station in orbit around Earth.

Jonathan Bartell is a young man, just out of university, when he signs up for the position of Quarantine Officer at the Orbital Launch Station.

He is part of a crop of students who flocked to study exo-biology when bacteria were discovered on Mars, and who are now all making their living flipping burgers, because the jobs are few and hard to get. He is lucky to get a job in space, no matter how mundane.

Or so he thinks...

Gaby Larsen is a doctor at the tiny hospital at the space station, and she keeps secrets, not because she wants to keep them, but because she is too scared to share them.

Because out in space, your worst enemies are your fellow travellers.

Contamination follows Jonathan, who has just gotten a job on the Orbital Launch Station as a quarantine officer. He quickly learns that not only is space less glamorous than he expected, but that his job is even less so. He doesn't immediately hit it off with other people on the station and a few innocent missteps lead to more antagonism than he planned for. But Jonathan is determined to do his job, and that leads him down a more interesting path than he bargained for.

This was a quick read and satisfyingly scratched the itch I wanted it to. It's hard SF that deals with some social issues and sticks go near-future plausible developments. (Although how near in the future we're really going to be exploring the solar system is up for debate.) It was interesting but not especially shocking as far as plot development went. That said, there were some interesting hints of other aspects of the world, which were not at all resolved and which I expect will come up again in future instalments. I should stress that the main story was completely resolved, however.

I enjoyed Contamination and I look forward to reading the next book in the series when it comes out. I recommend it to fans of science fiction, especially realistic and solar system-based science fiction. Since it's a novella, it's also an ideal quick read for people looking for a short foray into a science fiction world between other reads.

4 / 5 stars

First published: May 2017, self-published
Series: Yes, book 1 of ? which looks to be a series of standalones
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased from SmashWords
Disclaimer: Although I am friends with Patty, I have endeavoured to give an impartial review
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge, Australian SF Reading Challenge

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