I just finished reading “Burn” by James Patrick Kelly. He’s apparently a fairly well known Sci-Fi author, but I’m not familiar with his work. It’s a quick read since it’s fairly short, a novella really rather than a novel. It follows Spur, a firefighter living on the idyllic planet Walden.
Walden was founded with the intent of following simple lives modeled after Transcendentalist philosophy. Unfortunately, a sort of war was broken out between the Transcendentalist State and the previous settlers, called Puk Puks. The Puk Puks don’t seem to attack people, but rather they fight by setting fires in the unnaturally quickly growing forests that now spread over Walden.
I was skeptical at first, the premise seemed so contrived, but the writing really drew me in. The characters are interesting, their interactions and motivations believable. Kelly creates a rich and believable world without overdoing descriptive exposition and I really began care about the characters.
I just wish there were more of it. The story ends abruptly, leaving me wanting more. There is so much more story to be told here, but Kelly leaves it to us to imagine. I really enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone who wants an enjoyable quick read, not just Sci-Fi fans. I’ll give it 4/5 stars, losing a star for ending right when I was really thoroughly sucked in. I will definitely be seeking out Kelly’s other work though, maybe he’s written more about the Thousand Worlds, and I can get a pseudo-fix that way.
You can buy the book from Amazon, or get the eBook for free from Kelly’s website. I read it on my phone (also for free) after discovering it in the Creative Commons section of the store in the Aldiko Reader.