Saturday, September 3, 2022

Review of "Ignition City," by Warren Ellis

 Review of

Ignition City, by Warren Ellis, ISBN 1592910874

Five out of five stars

Dystopian story about space travel

 This science fiction story has many unique and sobering characteristics. In it, humans have gone into space, but almost everyone has lost interest in what was once a great dream of humans. It is 1956 and when the story opens, France has just passed a law where there will be no more space launches from French soil. The space port in France was the last one in continental Europe and it seems certain that Britain will soon be closing their last one.

 Mary is the daughter of an astronaut and an astronaut herself and she wants to get back into space. When her father dies, she travels to Ignition City, the last spaceport on Earth, in order to settle his affairs. It is an artificial island in the equatorial Atlantic and under the control of the United States. What makes this story unusual is that Ignition City is a filthy place, filled with despair. It would seem contradictory that a spaceport would be like that, but the author makes the story work.

 Mary is a tough woman, facing down dangers at gunpoint. She is willing to use her weapon and she is capable of communicating with the crablike creatures that are clearly alien. Using her wits, brains, her father’s contacts and an itchy trigger finger, she manages to get a group together that might have the collective technical skills to get back into space.

 The common approach to space travel in science fiction stories is to make it optimistic, a positive take on the future. Ellis does the opposite, a world is created where there is extreme indifference to space flight and how all the people that could build craft capable of going into space have fallen on hard times. Technology is a powerful force in the human world, yet we too often assume that it is here to stay. There are many possible scenarios where the human species decides to give up complicated aspirations and space programs are one of the most likely to be rejected.

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