In the Clear by Ayami Tyndall

 

CLEAR
In the Clear by Ayami Tyndall
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (59 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Arne was content with her career as a hydrogen rigger, harvesting fuel from Saturn’s clouds for use across the solar system, until two prospectors offered her a job that kindled old desires. She used to be an angel, a guide through the lightless sky beneath Saturn’s clouds, but abandoned that deadly wasteland years ago. Now she returns, taking flight again on cybernetic wings to guide a new prototype through the invisible gale of the liquid sky. She used to know Saturn’s depths well, but returning ignites old scars, and there is something new and unnatural waiting in the burning air.

Things begin to go sideways when Arne hears a strange voice from out in the void. No one else hears it, and Saturn remains as lifeless and vacant as ever, so Arne forges ahead. She ignores its warnings and descends deeper toward the unknown, but the unknown itself is rising up to meet her. Paranoia and fear bloom in Arne’s mind as the empty sky fills with long buried secrets, casting doubt on the true purpose of the expedition and on her own sanity. Threatened with creeping madness and blocked from escape by her employer’s obsessive ambition, Arne will have no choice but to face the abyss she has spent years trying to forget.

When the wind comes for her and her wings fail her, will she remember why she calls herself an angel?

All Arne has to do is avoid dying on one final visit to a planet that’s haunted her for years. After all, it’s only a suicide mission if you don’t survive, right?

Spaceships are only as interesting as the people inside of them. Luckily, this short story is full of intrigue from the very first paragraph. As soon as I read the premise, I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. The blurb was a perfectly balanced introduction to the plot that piqued my interest without giving away too much of what happens or overselling the adventurous aspects of it.

This book jumps around from one time and setting to the next. Some of these leaps happened in such rapid succession that they were confusing for me at a few different point in the plot. More than once I wasn’t sure if Arne was remembering something from her past or if she’d somehow narrowly escaped the danger nipping at her heels in the previous scene.

There were so many twists in this adventure that I honestly had no idea what would happen to these characters next. At certain points it felt like I was riding a literary roller coaster, yet everything I learned early about Arne and the people she works for was eventually reinforced by later scenes. The foreshadowing was subtle but it really worked well for the ending the author had in mind.

In the Clear was such an exciting read that I devoured it in one sitting. This is something I’d particularly recommend to anyone who is a fan of hard science fiction. The technological advancements in this tale are almost as fascinating as the characters themselves!

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