The notion of a ‘contained thriller’, that is a story which takes place entirely within a constrained environment, holds tremendous appeal for me because it allows the exploration of ideas, characters and settings without the distractions of the world at large. I find that the tension is further heightened because the environment is limited: Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window would be an entirely different movie if our protagonist could simply have gotten up out of his wheelchair and walked over to the neighbor’s apartment.
Such is the case with the novella Brody: Hope Unconquered. Erik Wecks has done a superb job of using a contained environment (a two-person spacecraft on an unstoppable/unchangeable five year journey) to create, hold, and build the tension core to the story. In a time when year-long crewed missions to Mars are under consideration, I think this is a timely exploration of just what it means to live within such an environment.
The other example of a contained environment scifi story is Hugh Howey’s Wool, which I loved and reviewed a few months ago. I found a similar enjoyment in both Wool and Brody in terms of growing to understand the universe at large as well as the limitations of their environments.
Brody has two intertwined threads: the story of the trip through space, and a backstory thread that explores how Roger and Helena came to be on the ship, and the stakes involved for them. This backstory serves to heighten the tension of the forward storyline. The integration of the two is perhaps the one weak point of the book, as I sometimes found myself confused in the backstory thread, but this didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the book as a whole.
I enjoyed Brody: Hope Unconquered and hope you’ll check it out.