Title:Atmosphere: We don’t Orbit but Fall all the Same/ Author: Garth Buns/ Publication Type: Self-Published/ Length: 280 pgs/ Genre: Science-Fiction/ Release Date: April 2016
Cover Evaluation: eye-catching and great use of color
Author Bio: Tennessee born. Ran away to Quito, Santa Cruz, New College and Oaxaca. Lives happily with his wife and son in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Book Blurb: (Taken from Amazon) Atmosphere: We Don’t Orbit but Fall the Same is a struggle for survival between two alien species that hinges on an unlikely collaboration. *** Kora Green learned to talk in her sleep. In fact, everything she has ever been taught occurred while sleeping. She has lived so robustly while unconscious that she cannot ever remember being awake. Her community tells her that she has everything she needs, but then she feels sunlight on her skin and remembers, for the first time, the sensation of cool water between her toes. Kora soon learns that it is forbidden to discuss what happens in the wake-state. But when a spacecraft from another solar system arrives, the heretic Kora may hold the key to her species’ survival. *** Dr. Phlox Swenno was raised in the tree tops, and his people believe that emotions are a sign of weakness. His primate-like species trusts violence and science, but the doctor is trying to outrun an unspoken shame, and he is ill-equipped for life aboard a deep-space freighter. The planet they begin to orbit incubates new diseases and unforeseen dangers, and the doctor may be the only one who can read the clues. *** Atmosphere, at its deepest level, becomes an allegory regarding the importance of memory, dreams, and forgiveness.
Review: What are we without our dreams? How do our dreams define us? Atmosphere: We don’t Orbit but Fall all the Same, addresses these issues on a galactic scale. In this novel, there’s no humanity to be found, but humanity’s faults and struggles abound in alien form. Atmosphere is a Sociological Sci-Fi lover’s dream, pun perhaps intended. The world-building is rich, and the protagonist, Phlox Sweeno, is as brave as he is often confused by his own dreams. Again, dreams. Phlox’s species is not only scared of them, but they’re a social taboo derived from past enslavement by another species. A series of catastrophic events forces Phlox to face his dreams during space flight and everything old and new that comes with them. The complexity and weaving of worlds versus dreams versus the struggle to survive made for worthwhile reading, but the story isn’t without its faults.
The story dragged early and was often difficult to follow. Two worlds were being presented at once, which isn’t a problem for this reviewer as long as there are proper transitions for reader understanding– there sometimes were not. Phlox Sweeno and his story were presented in a linear fashion while the other protagonist, Kora Green’s, tale read like a Greek tragedy, complete with a chorus. This proved distracting, and at times, frustrating. The verb tense often shifted between scenes without discernible breaks and the story was further complicated by Phlox’s sudden present-tense dreams. The novel was also plagued with anachronisms that didn’t fit the world the author created. Word choices such as Braille, human error, toothpaste, and sitting ducks threw this reviewer out of the story, and each time it proved more difficult to return. I did return, however, and was rewarded with a well thought out and intense ending worth the wade to reach.