Fellow Brandon author Craig Russell recently had a new novel published, titled Fragment. I went to the book launch at McNally Robinson Booksellers and bought myself a copy.
I finished reading it last night, and I must say, I enjoyed it. It’s a short novel—not much over 200 pages—but it packs a lot into that space.
Thousands perish as ice overruns a research/tourism base at the south end of the world. A massive sheet of Antarctic ice—the Fragment—breaks free of the continental ice shelf and drifts into the ocean. Three scientists, survivors from the destroyed base, must try to get the message out: This is a disaster. The Fragment threatens thousands, possibly millions, of lives.
Standing in their way is the captain of the nuclear submarine that rescued them, under orders to run silent, run deep. Also, the President of the United States isn’t thrilled about the situation, since it looks like it’ll be bad for his polls in the run-up to re-election.
And Ring, a blue whale, tries to warn his people of the dangers presented by the Fragment. But he’s only one voice in the vast ocean.
The story is captivating. Russell1 does a good job of fleshing out his cast of characters, especially the ones we’re going to spend a lot of time with. Ring in particular felt like a well-developed person, who just happened to be a whale.
The stakes start out high and get higher all the time. I couldn’t stop turning pages, especially in the last half of the book, which I read in a single sitting.
The “Needs Improvement”
The ending, while compelling, felt like it could be fleshed out somewhat. Several disasters involving the Fragment’s unstoppable force vs. an island’s immovable object were delivered in a few paragraphs, and it felt rushed.
Buy it. Read it. It’s an eco-disaster novel with political overtones, and it’s a first-contact novel, all in 200-and-a-bit efficient pages.
- Craig is a friend of mine, and it feels weird to call him by his last name, but that’s the way things are done. Right? ↩