“Eclipse” by Herman Steuernagel

“Eclipse” starts out like a standard Space Opera, in the middle of a thrilling escape from an exploding spaceship. Once the story starts, though, it is light on the science end, with the setting element concentrated on visual descriptions of the vessels, living spaces and clothing styles of this future environment.

The emotional content of the story is powerful, with more serious emphasis on family ties, loyalty and friendship than is usual in this genre, which tends to be more lighthearted.

The first sign that this story is not what it seems is the information dump at the start. Even running a gauntlet through explosions and fire can’t keep us focused through pages of backstory. And this continues throughout the book. Whatever the action, the point-of-view character thinks through it all in great detail, laying out the backstory, the reasons and the possible outcomes.

These inner dialogues are well written and give us the personalities of the characters with great veracity, but they take up too much of the book, and the pace of the action is very slow.

There is little external action in the story because most of the conflict takes place inside the characters’ heads. In the usual Hero’s Journey, the main character makes up his mind in the first few chapters that the life he is living has something wrong with it. He starts his journey, and his struggles to reach a better life provide the conflict for the rest of the book. In this instance, the hero takes the whole book to come to a decision.

The other difficulty is that most effective heroes are action oriented. They make decisions and act on them. Here, the main character is acted on by his society, forcing him to leave at the end. This makes for a less dynamic tale.

This is the first episode in a serial. The main external conflict, which is political in nature, is only alluded to near the finish. The ending is rather unsatisfying, as it only solves the immediate problems. However, it sets up a larger conflict to play out in the next installment.

This novel is presented as Space Opera but is too introspective for that genre. It is much more appropriate for more thoughtful fans of general Sci-Fi.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This review previously published on Reedsy Discovery

About the Author: Gordon Long

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