Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

In an alternate history of the 20th century, the Great War – or, in this world, the Great Reckoning – has spun out of control and raged for decennia, reducing the whole planet to rubble. In these circumstances Miriam developed a kind of meditation that could separate people from their trauma’s: the Watercolor Quiet. In her memoires she writes how she grew up during , discovered the Watercolor Quiet, and developed it in the New Society establishing itself when the smoke cleared. The Watercolor Quiet became instrumental for the new regime as a way to separate people from their unwanted memories. Although those memories were not always trauma’s.

This book was my most anticipated work of fiction of 2021. It is set in the universe of Within the Wires, an alternate history audio drama and one of my absolute favourites. One of the reasons I love this audio drama is the way it is structured (see my review there), and the book presents itself in the same tradition. Instead of found audio, this story is found written work: a memoir. But there is more. It is a memoir presented by a journalistic organisation who claims to have scrutinised the facts of the memoir and found them full of unfounded allegations. Yet, the organisation holds free speech above all. Therefore, it circumvented censure by the New Society government and found you, the reader, to be responsible enough to read it. ‘Whatever you do, don’t distribute it further.’ Whether this is a sincere warning or actually an invitation is unclear. Does the journalistic organisation really believe the memoir is full of fake facts or does it say so to appease the New Society? It is left for the reader to decide.

It was a good book. It has a very easy to read style, poetic at times, and the life described in the memoir was interesting. But above all, it was amazing to dive deeper in the world I had come to know through the audio drama. And this bothered me. I want(ed) to like the book for its own merits. And I did, but not as much as I would have hoped.

For example, I did not really like the narrator, mostly because of the tone of voice. There is quite some stream-of-consciousness passages where her mind wanders, notices something and then cuts herself off. ‘Irrelevant’, she says, over and over again. Well, let me be the judge of that! It might be purposefully ironic that the founder of a trauma-separating therapy is pushing away her memories, but I found it pretty annoying. I also disliked the stalling in the story, at times it felt a bit cheap and out of place. I mean, there were in no way Dan Brown-stretched tension spans, but still.

I really wanted to love this book and be fully immersed. I hate that two quite minor stylistic things bugged me so much. They kept me from going deeper with this character. However, I should not place too much emphasis on this. I really enjoyed the book. Maybe more for the world building than I would have liked, but still, I give it a well-deserved 4 stars.

Share this post: