Review: Binary System by Eric Brown

Publisher: Solaris

Publishing Date: August 2017

ISBN: 9781781085516

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.4/5

Publishers Description: After surviving a catastrophic starship blow-out, Delia Kemp finds herself stranded on the inhospitable, ice-bound world of Valinda, populated by the Skelt, a race of hostile aliens who will stop at nothing to obtain Delia’s scientific knowledge. Escaping from the Skelt – assisted by a friendly chimpanzee-like alien and a giant spider-crab – she travels south through a phantasmagorical landscape as the long winter comes to an end and the short, blistering summer approaches.Pursued by the Skelt, she and her companions make a death-defying dash across the planet’s inimical equator to meet up with fellow survivors from the starship, and a final journey to the valley of Mahkanda – where salvation just might be waiting.

Review:  Aliens that converse like humans, Deus ex consistently showing up in dire situations, a planet that makes no sense in its ability to support the myriad forms of life and a main character lacking in depth were just a few of the problems with Binary System. I agree with one reviewers assessment that the alien societies were dichotomously represented as good vs. evil and that those societies lacked the complexities for drawing the reader into a believable world. Delia was a big problem for most of the novel as her inner whiney ruminations with the resident AI was tiresome. I just didn’t care what happened to her character as depth was never built into her.

The huge fall down in this novel was the world’s unsupportive xeno-biology. Nine years of -30 F winters and one year of summer, supports 3 sentient alien species and a plethora of flora and fauna. This planet makes no sense as it has one seasonal shift in 10 years but axial tilt (required for seasonal change) is never mentioned. So basically this world, as written, cannot exist. This ice world is possible but lacks the scientific foundation to make it plausible.  There was not even an attempt to explain how the flora and fauna of this world adapted to temperature extremes other than certain species go underground for 9 years. A great opportunity was lost in creating a believable world.  

While the world building foundation was abysmal with all the plot holes and lack of “alieness”, the writing was technically good.

3 thoughts on “Review: Binary System by Eric Brown

  1. This review here confirms why I would have worries about reading & reviewing scifi.. I just don’t have enough brains to pick out the scientific discrepancies and I’ve seen how much scifi readers value the logic built into the worlds.
    I like the sound of 9 years of winter, 1 year of summer, but it does sound rather impossible?!

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