Dusted by Stars

G.A. Matiasz

Publisher: 62 Mile Press Pages: 124 Price: (paperback) $12.00 ISBN: 9781737005537 Reviewed: April, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Harkening back to Golden Age science fiction adventures by masters like Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, G. A. Matiasz’s novella follows Stacy Jones, a struggling Martian freight hauler and owner of the Skylark who is desperately seeking a new job to pay the bills.

After agreeing to transport a strange but apparently harmless relic to a “worship world” where religious followers are attempting to find the scattered pieces of an artifact from a long-vanished civilization and rejoin them, Jones begins to question her new client’s motives. Medea, who controls a swarm of robotic insects, is much more than just a rich employer—and when pirates attack the ship while it’s in space, Jones and her new crew member Kryz (an alien from a hive world attempting to return home) begin to understand the monumental importance of their freight. Mortal danger, mass destruction, and existential transcendence ensue.

There’s much to like here, including: clear, focused storytelling; brisk pacing, and numerous action sequences. All three main characters are female, which gives the neo-retro adventure a contemporary feel, and subtle political undertones enrich the narrative tapestry. A minor criticism is the overuse, at times, of scientific mumbo jumbo: “Dark matter haloes decouple a region of space-time from cosmic expansion through the gravity, catalyzing baryonic galaxies…”

As an added bonus, the novella is followed by a near-future dystopic mystery (originally published in 2018) entitled “The Death of David Pickett.” It revolves around the mysterious death of a Bay Area political activist. While the technology included is a bit dated, the conspiratorial, anarchist vibe still has thematic power, and the soundtrack of referenced songs (such as L7’s This Ain’t the Summer of Love”) add a cool layer.

In all, the book is highly entertaining, and the stunning interior illustrations from Jon Hunt complement the narrative tone perfectly.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
San Francisco, California
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