We finish off the bountiful repast of the week with Shrugg, 1 Mile, a morsel of a novella. The chef promises strange events, alien creatures, all tucked into a modern setting. Will the promise of the meal be fulfilled or will it simply be too brief a meal to be sustaining?
Before we dig in, let’s bow our heads and recite the Starving Review prayer:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible
Shrugg is, as I mentioned, a novella, and a short one, under 30,000 words I believe, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a wonderful meal. It simply needs to follow a tighter recipe to meet all the right points of characterization and story arcs. Now, the real rub is whether the chef uses his limited dining time to conjure up a full meal or not.
In many ways, Mr. Schindler does an excellent job juggling his limited time in the kitchen. The cast of characters makes a quick, strong impression, giving us a good feel for them so we can dive into the meat of the meal quickly. The science fiction and alien spices are added at just the right points and given just the right amount of depth without waste, with the proper care not to tarry overlong on things that aren’t vital to the core story. An especially smart point is an interesting meta-writing trick the chef puts together near the end, a twist a keen reader can pick up on. These are all solid points in this meal’s favor.
The one real flaw in the mix, though, is the deep-down feeling to me that Shrugg starts busing the tables a bit too early. It concludes at what, in a normal dinner, would be in the midst of the main course, the peak of the climax. This is particularly annoying as the meal, to that point, had been really, really good.
Even with this abrupt closing, Shrugg remains an excellent morsel. It’s a morsel I would love to see turned into a full course meal, because the story elements it brings out and the characters it creates deserves that honor. At the end of the edition I read, the chef talks about writing more to continue the story and I would definitely sat that he should. The bones of this meal are more than strong enough to take plenty more meat!
To bring it all together, Shrugg, 1 Mile is a tempting treat of a sci-fi novella, only held back by its abrupt closure. Even with that flaw, I would highly suggest it as a nice, quick read for those who enjoy imaginative sci-fi. It is not however a high-action piece, so anyone who craves action in their sci-fi should look elsewhere. I know that if Shrugg‘s tale is continued, I’ll certainly come to the counter to get it and see the story finish.
FINAL VERDICT: **** (A tempting treat of a sci-fi novella … if only it were just a little longer!)