Top critical review
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An entertaining and undemanding adventure
on 6 November 2014
This is a futurist adventure story set a number of years after a global conflict that reduced human civilisation to a shadow of its former self. Despite the collapse of commerce the remaining human habitations are reasserting a capitalist approach to civilisation, which was one of the first disappointments I found with the book. It is not exactly a post-apocalyptic tale; the human world teetered near the edge but did not fall into the abyss. Alternative ways of humans living socially are not explored, which is a shame because this, I believe, is a missed opportunity.
It is also understandable because the two central characters, Aiden and Frederick, are indulged in an airborne trade business using a left-over aircraft from the war. They risk pirates, bandits and rogue traders in a pursuit of either one big score or the opportunity to establish a consistent method of making a profit. At the start of the book they find themselves in the Crimea where they fall foul of the huge warship ‘Gilgamesh’ that uses its still active gunnery and compliment of marines to bully its way around the world in a never ending quest for resources and wealth.
C. S. Arnott has ability as a writer and spins an engaging tale of adventure in an imagined future, ‘Flying the Storm’ is not a difficult book to read. However I did not find myself taking to the two lead characters. Aiden is frequently morose and begrudging of others, and Frederick never gets to display much depth of character. The background of living in the shadow of a great war also lack development, seemingly existing only as an excuse for people to slip back into barbaric ways. It allows for violence but little else.
There is hardly any explanation as to how a vessel as massive as the Gilgamesh operates and I found this lack of technical depth also disappointing. The story is direct and linear, hence easy to read, with a subplot suggested concerning the re-emergence of Armenia as a country once more but it is not explored at this stage and there is no explanation as to the fate of the other countries of the world, although Glasgow seems to have a fully functioning hospital.
In conclusion ‘Flying the Storm’ was an entertaining read but not wholly satisfying. The lack of development of the background material, the social, political, technical threads for example, gives it a lightweight feel. This is fine if this was the author’s objective but as a science fiction reader I was hoping for something more. A good book and it could be the start of something bigger but it needs more work on the world it portrays and the characters that inhabit it.