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Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Christopher Carter, ex-Marine, awakes from stasis feeling groggy and unwell. Now a civilian, he has landed his dream job with a mining corporation working on a planet right at the edge of the explored section of the galaxy, and with the added bonus that he has been allowed to bring his family along - his beloved wife and two young daughters, Luce and Mara. Off World by Kimberly Adkins chronicles how, on waking, Christopher’s first concern is for them and even in his groggy, disoriented state, he is demanding to see them. Trying not to get off to a bad start in his new job, things settle down when he is introduced to his new colleagues and he starts to explore his strange new planet - a planet devoid of life which orbits a spectacular gas giant.
Overcoming some initial cognitive problems, things start to go well for him as he discovers new sources of material for his employers. Apart from the strange rule that employees must not socialize or mingle, his family has settled in and his daughters are excelling at their schoolwork. All seems to be moving along nicely until strange events during the exploration of some underground caves start to unbalance Christopher’s mind; events which culminate in an astonishing denouement where he is faced with having to decide the very nature of his consciousness and reality.
Off World is a spooky tale in classic science fiction format. A short novella of less than eighty pages, it nevertheless manages to develop great atmosphere and solid believable characters. Initially I found Christopher somewhat over-obsessed with his family, but as the story unfolds, the reason for this becomes apparent. The narrative moves along at a brisk pace. I would have liked to discover a bit more about the planet or moon on which the story is set, but, overall, it is a worthy addition to the genre. Sci-fi aficionados will not be disappointed.