Don Hussey,
Chesapeake Station: It Began with Serenity
(Seawall, 2013)

This may well be the most incoherent novel I have ever read, and I've been a passionate reader for 50 years now.

I will say it's short. Very short. I am not sure it even hits novella length, what with the exceedingly slim size AND the large-print sized type. While it may be the rough draft of a novel, it is emphatically not a novel currently.

The author clearly put some effort into his "future history," which was less incoherent than the rest. However, all this had nothing particularly to do with the plot. The premise of "what would the world look like if..." had nothing to do with the story that followed, which could well have been set in the current day -- it was a pure action-adventure thriller, with various plot elements that fall apart upon even minor consideration.

Like traveling times and distances. If Our Heroes are going to start in Washington, D.C., in the morning, and hit Anchorage, Alaska, by late afternoon, their "vehicle" -- which was parked in an underground parking garage -- must be a jet plane. And yet, it has a trunk. ... There is even worse nonsense about a colony or space station or something that's 11 to 12 lightyears away, orbiting around a potentially Earth-like planet -- and our geniuses want to put another station there, orbiting it in a REALLY BIG orbit around the planet, because that'll make the distance to Earth substantially shorter! Um, no, it won't.

In a similar vein, I really doubt that the entire solar system, including Jupiter, would be much affected by a wobble in Earth's orbit. I doubt even more that a radioactive item roughly the size of my hand would be powerful enough to cause tsunamis in Africa when it's in the Carribbean, or to bore down to the Earth's core and threaten to explode the entire planet. Also, on a more petty note, I really doubt that 12-foot waves are enough to cause a 70-ton cruise ship to be in danger of capsizing. Cruise ships are HUGE. After a bit of poking around online -- which our author ought to have done -- it looks like this ship would have been something like 150 feet tall above the waterline, with maybe a third minimum of that the actual ship (the rest would be fancy cabins).

I could cite more, but let's move on.

NO characterization. NO realism in how people would react. This aspect reminds me a lot of the 1950s SF disaster movies; "ordinary folk" get caught up in events, and all of a sudden the President, et al, are seeking their wisdom and input, and taking them OH-so-seriously! RIIIIGHT. That's how it works. I just bet that if you showed our political and military leaders a multi-page rant about a doomsday weapon from people calling themselves Zebulon and Stargazer, they'd be right ON that puppy; it's just that plausible!

"Serenity," by the way, is not a Firefly reference; it's the name of the cruise ship. I do not really understand why it's in the title. Similarly "Chesapeake Station" apparently orbits the planet 11 to 12 lightyears away, and really does not come into the tale at all. Except that at one point Stargazer (if I recall correctly) sends a beam from it to try to stop the item that is destroying Earth, and amazingly, it seems to take about 30 minutes for said beam to travel 11 to 12 lightyears. No explanation, naturally.

The best comparison I have, again, is to those 1950 disaster SF movies, where "because: SCIENCE!" was given a pass and no sense had to be made as long as heroic men were heroic and stuff blew up and the day was saved. This is why those were bad movies, and this is a bad book.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

8 March 2014

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new