The Frozen Sky – Jeff Carlson

About the book
“The FrozenSky” is a stand-alone novella by the international bestselling author of thePlague Year trilogy.
Originally publishedin the Writers of the Future XXIII anthology, “The Frozen Sky” is anear-future sci fi thriller set beneath the ice of Jupiter’s sixth moon,Europa. This story has been translated into Czech, Estonian, and Polish inmagazines overseas. It also earned an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois’s TheYear’s Best Science Fiction.
“Pulse-pounding.”–Publishers Weekly
“A tenseadventure story.” –Locus Magazine
Publishedon: January 15, 2010 and October 15, 2010
Ilove reviewing books. One of the main reasons why I enjoy it so much is becauseI get to read and discuss books with other people who are just as enthusiasticabout literature as I am. Discussion is important. A person can learn a lotfrom a good discussion. One of the things I’ve learned from my variousconversations is that I am a sucker for an innovative concept, book or authorand Jeff Carlson is all of those things.
The Frozen Sky is a novella that isroughly sixty pages in length. Due to its short size, you can’t really expectthe depth and scope you’d expect from an 800-page doorstopper. Carlson setshimself up an impressive task of not only establishing a futuristic universethat is believable to the reader, but in sixty pages he has to establishcharacters, a world, technology and some sort of background and he does itmasterfully.
The Frozen Sky takes place beneath theice on Europa, which is one of Jupiter’s moons. In fact, one of the reasonsthis book is so believable and compelling is because Europa is a scientific hotspot,as it’s believed that it has the potential for life. Carlson uses aninteresting technique to tell his story. The chapters alternate between thepresent time and the past. While these timeline jumps might confuse somereaders, they serve a larger purpose very effectively. In a short amount oftime Carlson is able to introduce readers to what brought scientists to Europa,what they expected to find there and what they actually did find. Not onlythat, but they allow the nearly nonstop action to keep its edge-of-the-seatpace without losing any depth or development of the plot.
Europais an interesting landscape in which to place a futuristic tale. It’s filledwith ice and rock along with a really untamed, eerie feel that Carlson uses to the story’s advantage. This is the perfect eeriesetting for Carlson to really flex his creative muscles. He creates some greattechnology that is both believable to the environment and the future he’screated, like a space suit which functions as a sort of high tech computer withsome very neat functions. The Frozen Skyis hard science fiction, which probably won’t come as a surprise to anyonereading this review. However, while some science fiction authors have a hardtime making technology that’s easy to understand and picture, Carlson seems tohave a knack for making his technology and futuristic concepts seem almostsecond nature to the reader. There isn’t a struggle to understand any terms orgadgets. They fit into the story and the setting seamlessly, which is a trueblessing for a book as short as this one.
I’mquickly learning that Carlson is an author who has the sort of mind that Iadmire and pay attention to. He seems to write on many levels. He explores newworlds, situations and technologies, but under all that exciting stuff are somevery thought provoking themes. Carlson is multi-faceted and The Frozen Sky packs quite a thoughtful punch for it’s sparsesize. What I, perhaps, find most interesting is how realistic Carlson is withhis themes. For example, I really could picture humans venturing onto somedistant rock to mine some mineral or to explore and study. Carlson takes that believable scenario andspins it into a brilliantly woven ‘what if’ story. What would happen if humansventured off someday in the future? What would they run into? There’s a moralhere, perhaps we should look before we leap, and there are also underlyingthemes about the importance of history and ancestry as well as other thoughts.
The Frozen Sky is a short novella, butCarlson knows how to pack each page full of detail, brilliant writing, excitingevents and deeper meanings. Carlson has mastered the art of the short story andnovella. He knows how to go in, get the reader’s attention and leave them withthoughts and impressions that will resonate for some time after the book hasended. While I haven’t read a full-length novel from Carlson yet, I know thatis in my near future and it’s an event I look forward to. Carlson is one ofthose rare authors who knows how to balance action and depth. That combinedwith his incredible ingenuity worked together to turn The Frozen Sky into an impressive novella that will please manypotential readers.


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