Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey

I discovered Hugh Howey, much as, probably, most people have, through his landmark Silo science fiction series (WoolShift, and Dust). So I’ve been following him to see what else of possible interest he may come out with. The only other book I read of his so far was his 5 part series Sand, which I also enjoyed.  But if you haven’t read Wool, you really ought to. It’s terrific.

Beacon 23 is a stand-alone novel that, like many of his novels, was originally published in 5 separate parts through Amazon, and then as a complete novel. It tells the story of “Digger”, a veteran who got a bit messed up both physically, and psychologically, in the ongoing war against aliens known as “The Ryph”.  He has PTSD. After the incident, in which he was viewed as a hero, he had his choice of positions, but what he chose was to be a beacon operator, on his own, somewhere out in space. Beacons function kind of like lighthouses in space, telling spaceships of hazards, like debris and asteroid belts and so on.

What actually happened to him is something that he won’t share with most people.  In fact, most of his interactions involve communicating with ships, and with NASA. He doesn’t expect to have to have to deal directly, in person with people all that much, and he likes it that way. The problem is that although he’s no longer a soldier, it seems like the war may be coming to him.

I could strongly relate to the main character of this novel — I am currently being treated for depression and an anxiety disorder and although I don’t have PTSD, and I was never a soldier, I’ve had a couple of traumas in my life. And there were just some parts of the story that rang very true to me. The novel is fairly short and well written. Overall, it was really good.  The only issue I have here, which prevents me from being more enthusiastic about the novel than I am is that the ending does not ring true. I don’t want to enter spoiler territory, so I will say that IF anything like the situation that Howey describes in the book, I don’t think that the epilog would have been what it was. (Is that vague enough?)  As I said, I don’t want to spoil it, because the book IS very worth reading.

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