Saturday, 18 February 2012
Containment - Christian Cantrell
Author: Christian Cantrell
The Book Depository
"Containment" by Christian Cantrell was a book I picked up without knowing anything about it beyond it being Science Fiction. I basically won a competition that enabled me to pick any book under a certain price from Amazon and "Containment" was the highest ranked Science Fiction e-book available at the time for that price.
The story is set in the future on a colony set up on Venus by the Global Space Agency (GSA) after humanity had almost devastated Earth. Arik is a member of the first group of children born on the colony who are collectively known as Gen V. The birth of these children however has taken the population to 1100 which is the maximum limit the colony can safely support. Arik, as one of the smartest of his generation is tasked with helping solve this issue and increasing the ability of the colony to sustain future generations. The pressure on Arik to solve the conundrum however is increased he discovers that his wife is pregnant with a child that the colony would currently be unable to sustain.
Considering that I picked up this book due to the luck of the current sales rankings; I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Cantrell has created a vivid and interesting picture of how a colony on another planet could function. He also combines the elements of science, plot and Arik's characterisation really well to ensure the reader is fully engaged in the overall plight of the colony. However, whilst all of this helped keep the reader engaged, I felt the characters beyond Arik were all a little bit flat and this let the novel down as it didn't really allow me to form any attachment. I particularly found that Arik's wife was almost a non entity even though it appeared that most of what he was doing was for her and their child.
The book was a little bit different to many of the other books I have recently read in that it definitely is not faced paced. The story creeps along, gently revealing more and more information about both the past and present in an interesting and controlled manner that kept me hooked. In fact, the only fast paced element of the story was probably in relation to the superb twist in the plot that I only saw coming a few pages before it was actually revealed. I actually quite liked how the reveal at this stage was told in this different manner to the rest of the story.
A minor issue I did have with the story was mainly in regards to the skipping back and forth in time. Basically, it wasn't always easy to realise what time period you were reading about and sometimes you could be a few pages in before you knew. I think the utilisation of the flashbacks did help to increase the tension and mystery around what could actually be going on, but I think the author could have found a way to make it clearer which time period I was reading about upon starting a chapter etc.
An issue I think some readers may have with the book is that this book is quite a "hard" Science Fiction book in that it doesn't hold back any punches in relation to the details utilised to describe some of the computing, technology and science. Some readers may therefore find that it all goes a little bit over their heads and slows the pace down even more. For myself, I found some of the details rather interesting although I did feel that Cantrell would sometimes descend into describing something at rather strange points in the novel. For example, he launches into a detailed description of the maglev system towards the end of the novel in a manner that I felt upset the flow of the plot which had been building up quite nicely to that point. This was compounded by the fact that I had already been introduced to the maglev several times previously and had already formed my own picture of it and its function.
Overall, I found Containment to be an enjoyable and interesting example of Hard Science Fiction that seems to have modelled itself on novels such as "2001: A Space Odyssey". As long as you can look past the rather detailed description utilised throughout the novel, then the engaging plot and well constructed setting should be enough to keep you entertained.
Challenges Book Counts Towards:
Ebook Reading Challenge (The Eclectic Bookshelf)
Ebook Reading Challenge (Workaday Reads)
Free Reads Challenge
Speculative Fiction Challenge