Reviews: Clarkesworld Magazine

Shorts: The Veilonaut’s Dream

The Veilonaut’s Dream is a beautiful story that weaves through the distant mysteries of space, contemplating the impossible depths of the universe and the existence of life beyond our tiny stake in the ground. It’s part space exploration, part terror, leaving you a bit dizzy as your imagination tries to keep up with the originality of so many space landscapes.

THE VEILONAUT’S DREAM

Henry Szabranski
Clarkesworld Magazine, August 2018
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STORY

It’s a succinct story that runs a gamut of emotions. Excitement at the prospect of exploring space, discovering new sights and planets. Fear at the prospect of getting stuck on the other side or torn apart during a bad transition. Terror at the reality of floating in deep space with no possible rescue. Awe at the beauty of the universe and the infinite worlds, nebulas, star clusters, etc. that are waiting to be discovered. Hope that a way out may still exist. It’s a short one, and the author uses every word masterfully to tell a gripping story of exploration.

I love that humans are still necessary to fully discover these random portions of space. Mankind created expensive machines to do the work, and they never pan out. It requires mankind’s will to explore, to learn about what lies beyond our limited scope, to really understand what’s on the other side of these shimmering doors. It’s hope in the face of technological advances making the human race obsolete.


CHARACTERS

The main character is a veteran explorer through the Veil with dozens of missions behind her. Many have died but she lives on, and it’s made her somewhat numb to the chilling possibilities of a mission going wrong. She’s lost a lot of friends – and a recent lover – to the Veil, yet she continues exploring, holding onto a glimmer of hope that she can find those she’s lost. It’s a great idea to pair this seasoned veteran with a newbie who’s terrified of the bad stories and enchanted by the good. We get to know just enough about these characters to care about them, to hope they can make it out.


SETTING

The space landscapes are exquisitely presented, especially at the end of the story. We see her traveling through dozens of Veils, met by stars and nebulas and dark voids, all blurring into a crazed roller coaster ride through the fabric of the universe. I had fun imagining the trips and how space might look when traveling through it so rapidly. The pure randomness of it is exciting and terrifying, and her description of the first world she stumbled upon gives the reader a vivid setting to imagine. The story is a real treat for the imagination.


CONCEPTS

Space Travel, Universe, First Contact, Alien Worlds, Deep Space, Lost

Interested in more stories like The Veilonaut’s Dream? Check out our Clarkesworld Magazine review section.

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

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