My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Set in a far flung future, ‘Flight 404’ by Simon Petrie combines two stories into one novella. The first is the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the passenger liner, Bougainvillea. The second is the mystery surrounding Charmain Mertz’s past. There appears to be little relationship between one and the other, but the two entwined threads do complement one another, each adding depth and personal experience to the whole.
Charmain’s thoughts are somewhat discombobulated as she returns to Ashe, the conservative planet of her birth. When she learns her sister and family were aboard the passenger liner, her mission becomes more personal. Reaching out to people she used to know triggers memories, some unwelcome, even if informative, but these interactions ultimately help her unravel the puzzle of the massive spacecraft’s disappearance. As facts are revealed, so is her past and, as the mystery is solved, Charmain seems to come to terms with herself. For every loss, there is a gain.
Simon Petrie’s writing style is a little different. I like the way he uses words. ‘Flight 404’ is easy to read and the construction of the plot, from Charmain’s arrival in the system to her discovery of what actually did happen to the Bougainvillea is logical and well-paced. The interspersed conversations with childhood friends pad the story, giving it more substance. Though I did wonder at the relevance of Charmain’s past, it’s not completely out of place. Her personal quest was inspiring and the emotion with which it was delivered should strike a chord with most readers.
Written for and originally published at SFCrowsnest.