Up until the day that HB brought this book home from one of his business trips, I had no idea that George R.R. Martin had written anything besides the ‘A Song of Fire and Ice‘ collection.
With a bit of research, I found out that he actually started writing in the 1970s already, and not the 1990s as I had thought. Which could only mean one thing: there are lots of novels to explore by this author, going back many years.
One interesting fact about his early writing was that he started writing science fiction short stories, which put him on the map, as those were the years science fiction movies, like Star Wars, started rising in popularity, but not enough popularity to pay the bills just yet.
Nightflyers was originally published in 1985, then followed a film adaptation in 1987 (which received low ratings and referred to as a ‘disaster’). In 2018, Netflix aired the TV show based on the book. I want to say it was pretty close to the book, but unfortunately not. While the plot setting was close to the original, there was a larger cast introduced on the show, and it was a little confusing to keep up with the changes in the flow of the story. I watched the TV series a week after I read the book, so with it still fresh in mind, I was able to pick up on the differences all too easily.
You can watch the Netflix Nightflyers trailer here.
DISCLAIMER:This review could contain possible spoilers based on my opinions. All opinions and views are my own.
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Nine B-class academics set off into space to find the volcryn, a mythic race, who they believe will help them save humanity. They travel together on the ship called the Nightflyer, with a mysterious captain that no one has seen before, except on a hologram.
Not long, accidents leadings to the crews’ deaths start occurring, and there are no answers. It’s a race to find out who is behind the killings, and stop a murderer who can be anywhere, do anything, at any time.
My Opinion: Positive Thoughts
I’m not a huge fan of science fiction, but I was really impressed with the writing and the concept. Considering the time it was written, the theoretical outlines of a dystopian future are intriguing and adding the horror aspect to the plot, you have yourself a glimpse of the possible future. Theoretically speaking, of course.
The book is short, aka a novella, and easy to read. With only 165 pages in total, I was able to finish the book within two days. Not just because of the short length of the book, but because the suspense and tension to find out who is behind the chaos was just too much to leave it alone. I had to get down to the bottom of the mystery.
You also get a feel of the interpersonal conflicts of the crew members throughout the story, which gives you a good idea of their characters as well as their personal struggles.
My Opinion: Negative Thoughts
So the twist at the end was truly fascinating and it wasn’t what I expected it to be. Although, when I did come down from the euphoria, I realised that it wasn’t all that ‘wow’ as I thought it to be. If you break the twist down into simpler words and concepts, you find that the premise behind everything going on is based on mommy issues. In space. On a ship. With a hologram. That’s all I’ll say about it.
I kind of wish I hadn’t thought so hard about it, as it did change my perspective on the plot.
While we get to know the characters, through their own chaos (as mentioned above), none of them except the main character, Melantha Jhirl, who is a genetically engineered human, really stand out.
Melantha Jhirl just has to spike your interests. While she is the main protagonist, my whole focus was on finding out more about the mysterious captain, Royd Eris. I think his character was written in as an addition to add the suspense of the plot, even though at the end, he serves a higher purpose. However, his character stood out to me more than Melantha Jhirl’s, who is supposed to be the main focus, actually. I was more intrigued by him than her character, and I found that to be a slight flaw, since he’s not exactly the main focus in the story.
If you want to give yourself a feel of the book, think: ‘Alien’ mashed up with ‘2001: Space Odyssey’.
George R.R. Martin’s talent for thought-provoking and emotionally effective writing does shine through as I ‘felt’ the characters’ emotions as I read the book.
The writing has very visual descriptions, which gives your imagination the opportunity to really see the story, the characters and the setting in your mind.
It also opens up the subject on Xenomythology, the study of myths and legends of alien species, which is thought-provoking, and makes you wonder – are we really all that alone?
The book has a rating of 3.52 out of 5 on GoodReads.
I gave the book a 4 out of 5. It’s your typical horror in space… but with a twist. While it’s not a perfect 5, I would still add this book to my must-read recommendations list.
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