Books & Literature

Book Review: Fractal Noise, by Christopher Paolini

SCI-FI: A stand-alone prequel of ‘To Sleep in a Sea of Stars’ where a group of scientists endeavour to discover the meaning of a mysterious beacon.

A long short story with a straight-forward plot.

Feature image credit: Pan Macmillan Australia

Twenty-three years before the events of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, a beacon is discovered on the planet Talos VII. It’s a perfectly circular pit that could only have been built by an unknown race, leading a handful of scientists to embark on a dangerous journey to discover its meaning.

Christopher Paolini’s prequel to his award-winning popular science fiction novel introduces a new set of characters to focus on a point in the history of his universe that was alluded to in the first book of the series. And while that first novel is an action-packed space opera of worlds at war, Fractal Noise is a more straight-forward, character driven narrative of unlikeable people having a bad day.

Paolini has a fine style of writing, conjuring clear images of scenes and situations without too much extended prose. Similarly, he masterfully draws his characters with distinct personality traits and speech patterns although in this instance, his cast is predominantly unlikeable, and main antagonist Pushkin ticks all the boxes of a clichéd panic-merchant in a spacesuit.

The hapless investigative team move from one crisis to the next as they edge their way across the planet towards the mysterious beacon, where things are sure to deteriorate even further. There’s no great subplots or twists in this tale, but a lot of character reflection and growth between the arguing and inevitable losses of life.

The end result is a mildly intriguing tale that never quite delivers but manages to keep one engaged until the very end… where fails to connect to the events to come — leading to the suspicion that a third book in the series may eventually tie the two together.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: May 2023
RRP: $34.99

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