Tor are leading the way in reviving the novella as a form of short fiction. They are investing in publishing shorter fiction by prominent writers. The novella seems primed to fit a particular evolutionary niche – perfect for a time-poor on-the-go lifestyle, something that can be fittted into a commute or an afternoon in a coffee shop. I’m not normally a fan of short fiction – I find it doesn’t usually allow the writer to tell a story with enough depth and character development to be able to grab me. But with a little bit more length, the novella gives a bit more breathing room. It seems perfect for speculative fiction, creating a playground for ideas.
Dave Hutchinson‘s Acadie (review copy from Tor) is one of that new breed of novellas. It’s a clever story focused on a group of people called The Colony. They are living on the fringes, having fled from the majority of humanity. The Colony’s desire to pursue body and genetic modification puts it at odds with the rest of humanity, but for the Colony it presents an opportunity to equip its members to live in the very different environments of deep space.
The story opens as Duke, the current President of the Colony, wakes the morning after his birthday party, to discover that the location of the Colony appears to have been discovered by the Earth authorities, who have been pursuing them for a long time. As President, it’s his job to pack up the Colony and move it to a new location.
This is a great story with a sting right at the very end, which makes it difficult to talk about without spoiling the story. The allusions and references to Kafka’s Metamorphosis are particularly delightful. It’s well worth investing a couple of hours of your time.
Goodreads rating: 4*