Mark Edmonds’ The Iron Asteroid, delivers an anti-union message within its gritty space opera plot.
When we first encounter our unnamed Everyman hero, he’s concluding his deep space labor contract harvesting asteroids for smelting. Being cleverer and more skilled than your average person, our hero finds an otherwise worthless hollow iron asteroid and harvests a seemingly endless bounty of equipment from the “rubbish dump” on his home space station, which he uses to retrofit the asteroid into a functional workshop and living quarters.
This is fortunate, because soon afterward, an attack destroys the official station, leaving his harvest crew stranded. He leads them to his retrofitted asteroid home and proceeds to salvage supplies that “improbably” survived the station’s destruction; brings them safely to another port by turning his asteroid into a ship; and buys military grade AI off the black market, which he then uses to forge new IDs for all of them.
Our hero then launches an uprising against the concept of labor unions, deducing that the top union boss is behind the attempt on his life for daring to perform non-union contract work. He forges his asteroid into a warship, taking on The Man wherever he goes and winning through his sheer masculine superiority.
The book is short, not because it’s succinct but because there’s little dialogue or characterization, leaving readers feeling unengaged. The plot soon vanishes under a sludge of anti-union sentiment (“It worked for a while before the corporations took over control of the unions. Now the corporations say jump, and the union jumps, ignoring the workers in favour of bigger bribes and better payoffs”) that reads like a rant.
The narrative exhibits numerous internal contradictions, such as a thruster firing just one sentence after it was stated that the fuel tanks had been completely emptied. Word usage errors (“software” for “hardware,” “altitude” for “attitude,” etc.) also distract.
Due to such issues, this quickly becomes a wearying read despite its brevity.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.