Review: Scent of Metal

This was a case of perfect timing. I didn’t plan it, this just happened in a bit of happy serendipity. On the week that New Voyage flew by Pluto, I am reviewing a book that centers around, and in, Pluto.

Shot of Pluto from July 13, image by NASA

We begin with the story on Pluto, with a young scientist who is part of a large team which has come to evaluate some very strange discoveries on the ninth and smallest planet. When I was talking to Sabrina Chase about the Scent of Metal, she told me she was inspired to write this book as revenge for Pluto’s demotion from planet. Which makes this review even more fun to write at this time. Not to mention that I just featured a recipe from the author in last week’s Eat This While You Read That!

scent of metalHow about the book? Well, it’s a space opera. Very much a space opera, as we get into Psi powers as the story unfolds, rather reminding me of some of James Schmitz’s tales. Our young scientist is particularly susceptible, and in the beginning of the book thinks she is going mad, although she doesn’t let that stop her from trying her best to do her job. The characters, as always in Chase’s work, are very well developed and understandable. My only complaint with this tale is that she doesn’t show enough of them. Not that she needed to add more to the named cast, but when you have hundreds of people stuck in a small space… Well, that’s a minor complaint.

The only major comment I’d have to make is that the beginning feels rushed. There is no panic when the first crisis occurs in the first few pages. Even in a primarily science and military team, with 900 people involved, there is going to be some screaming and running around flailing. Instead, everyone onstage simply flows into the new reality with very little comment. Fortunately, after this the story takes the time to build into crescendos and is very satisfying to read all the way through. I’m hoping there are sequels, it is certainly left open for them, although this story had a good ending on it’s own merits.

The descriptions are vivid and compelling, leaving me feeling more immersed in this than I expected. During the process of exploring Pluto – or rather, what lies beneath the surface, I could easily picture it in my mind. While the storyline is nothing wildly original, it is a solid story well worth the purchase price, and an enjoyable read. What more could you ask for?

One of my happy moments in the book is the supremely geeky romance that develops. It’s slow, uncertain, and so much fun to read, while being a small sidebar to the main story. Chase sprinkles her tales with nice reader cookies like this, and the neanderthals, and the willoware slugs… Just read the book. It’s a fun read, and hey, it’s about Pluto!