Spoiler Free Summary: Messenger by Nick Cole s the 14th story in the Four Horsemen anthology, For a Few Credits More. Tom Kyle was the sole survivor of Hastings Ridge. He found faith. But he’s still struggling to make sense of the massacre he’d escaped. Then he was sent on a mech with no weapons to a planet, where this new life was. All life is precious, and Kyle means to protect that life, even against another company. Whether he lives or dies matters far less than the fact that he fights to protect life.
Character: Kyle resonates with me. I had to look up his name, but this story had a lot of power. He’s struggling with being a survivor, which is, unfortunately, something a lot of veterans have to deal with. He’s determined, and he’s sympathetic. I like that we first see him through the eyes of his former commander, then through his reflective self, then through the eyes of another character (spoilers). This really put a lot of emotional power in this story even though it’s not very long.
Exposition: This was awesome in that it was nonexistent. From one point of view, it might be a lot, but everything we learn, we learn from the viewpoint of characters who are deep in their conflict, and all we see, we see through the eyes of some wonderfully developed characters. We learn about them as they learn about each other.
World building: This story didn’t have a lot of that. Where most of the other stories sought to play in the world and look at different aliens (which is cool), this story focused on a real, human emotion with tremendous impact. It’s not a story designed to wow you with scope and detail. What it did for me is make me think about how I feel about combat and how others view it.
Dialogue: This story didn’t really have any. Oh there’s a flashback story I think, but not really enough to evaluate fully.
Description: Die hard scifi fans might be disappointed. I’ll admit, this is a bit thin on description, but there’s reason. As you read one perspective and then another, you start to understand how it all fits together, and too many descriptive beats or blocks of description would have taken away from the emotion.
Overall: This reflective story gives the reader a tremendous sense of loss with an uplifting message (no pun intended) of hope, and that makes this story truly powerful. I’m not sure what general fans of the universe would think, but I think fans of speculative scifi might really appreciate this little glimpse of characters trying to deal with real trauma and loss.
Thanks for reading,