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Office Romance

Can the tender bloom of love survive the inhospitable environment of deep space? The novella Lightwave: Nexus Station (Book 0.5 of the Folding Space Series) introduces key characters in the military sci-fi Folding Space Series via a fast paced, danger filled romance.  I went into this book expecting a tense, hard-science filled narrative with narrow escapes and at least one terrifying moment in open space. I got all of that plus a tender love story with HEA told from two points of view. 

Tyron lands on the heavily monitored Nexus Station hoping to recruit a net specialist that will fit in with his existing crew. What he finds is Katryn, net savvy and vaguely familiar, living hand-to-mouth with her fighting skills. Unfortunately, she has neither the experience or the pedigree to win gainful employment.  Her naivety puts her in the cross hairs of both legitimate and shadowy cadres at the station, but the red string of fate draws Tyron into her chaos and he uses all of his skills to keep her safe. Love grows in the claustrophobic moments between life and death situations.  

As expected, the story begins with book-specific science jargon, but the author pads it with enough context that by the end of the chapter, the reader is comfortable with the new terms. A sense of peril envelops the reader immediately and the narrative leaves many options for things to pop off. Fortunately, the author is judicious with the action so that the reader is not overwhelmed or numbed to the danger. Despite close quarters, the story feels like a grand adventure as the characters don’t make the expected choices nor do these choices lead to the normal outcomes.

At less than one hundred pages, the prose is tight, leaving the reader to fill in many of the descriptive blanks. Likewise, the writing style is more inline with scifi than it is romance so expect more blunt expression of emotions. The writing is professional and has the further advantage of excellent editing. I appreciated the effort put into it as I was never confused nor did I fall out of the world due to any grammar distractions. 

Keeping with the scifi genre, the main theme of this novella is symbiosis. Tyron and Katryn have several ‘team building’ moments as they learn to work together. Tyron shows Katryn how to collaborate with several elements at the station to get the outcome they need. In the finale, a key mystery is solved as seemingly opposing conditions work in conjunction to provide a means of escape. 

My favorite part of this book was the interactions with the Nexus Below crew. The crew and their way of doing business is somehow both more sketchy yet more honest than the strict, stratified society “above.” 

While it does not end on a cliffhanger, I was immediately curious about what happens next. I give this work five starts and recommend it for anyone looking for a great scifi series to add to their summer reading TBR. 

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