By Richard Horsley
A near future premise that quickly transforms into a Lovecraftian space opera, as you may guess, Static Push is full of surprises. The title, whilst directly relevant to the story really doesn’t do the ideas contained in the novel justice.
A science team at Dennison Industries are investigating a method of producing time stasis and after an accident; stumble across an entirely new process of travel - the ‘static push’ of the book’s title. Armed with this novum, the team embark on a process of transforming humanity’s method of space exploration, only to stumble across and provoke the wrath of ancient forces that had been set in place to guard against human expansion into the stars.
There is a lot to like about Horsley’s debut novel. Some of the set piece scenes are beautifully written; of particular note are the astronaut rescue and the evacuation. The whole book runs along at a beautiful pace with a blend of emotional investment throughout. Tragedy and success against the odds are portioned out in equal measure, making for quite the rollercoaster ride.
There are one or two elements that jar though. The wisecracking science team are perhaps a little overly humoured at times. There seems to be a ‘Whedonesque’ quality that the writer is aiming for and it strays into countering the atmosphere generated by the other writing at times. However, the one major jolt is an on the nose religious exposition moment at the half way mark. This feels entirely unnecessary and utterly oppositional to the much better mythic writing through the rest of the book.
There are some clearly modern inspirations to Static Push. Gravity, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and more come to mind, but Asimov’s scientific theorisation in works like The Gods Themselves can clearly be seen. Horsley takes Asimov’s two person conversation of science into pseudoscience and introduces more of a round the table approach in outlining his pseudoscience premise. This is undercut a little with the aforementioned humour as the whole of the group appear to have attention deficient issues, but it does give the book clear grounding. There are principles and rules at work here that you can (mostly) comprehend and these provide limitations to increase tension when needed and celebrate the innovation of individuals as they find solutions.
When Horsley works with myth, the story shines. His aliens are Lovecraft in space, mysterious and unexplained, vast, monstrous and beyond understanding. The scenes from their perspective are nicely worked into the narrative and provide a clear sense of otherness. This also means the space opera element of the novel is both usual and unusual enough to sweep you up and have you discover as well root for the intrepid space adventurers. The projected layers of history introduced by some of the things found by the scientists establish a fascinating backdrop for the story. With a little less exposition here, these would provide an excellent set up for future novels.
Static Push is lying out there in deep space, waiting to be found by its readers. It does not disappoint.
Written on 10th October 2015 by Allen Stroud .