Born From Fire (The Longview Chronicles #1) by Holly Lisle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Longview is a spaceship operated by a mysterious “Owner” who uses it to transport criminals slated for execution. The story is told from two alternating viewpoints. One is one of the Longview crew, and the second is one of the prisoners. Between them, we start to get a glimpse of a cruel and unforgiving world where criminals are encouraged to commit suicide (by jumping into a lake of fire) in order to atone for their crimes. If they choose not to take the suicide option, they are shipped out on transports like the Longview to be sold to the highest bidders and executed in whatever way those bidders choose. The crew of the Longview themselves are all from less than perfect pasts, and are at the mercy of the owner, who is known to only the highest level members of the crew. It all sounds pretty mysterious, doesn’t it?

And it is. The worldbuilding is decent, with enough detail to give you a handle on the society and how it functions, but leaving a lot to still be filled in. The characters are fairly well constructed, though it did take me a bit to get involved with them. The mystery of the Longview and her owner are intriguing and leave you wanting to know a lot more. The problem? This novella is most definitely a first in series. Not much is resolved by the end, and there are more questions than answers by the time you finish reading. It’s not a huge problem since I purchased the full set of the Longview Chronicles at once, so there is no waiting for the next installment to publish. If that were not the case, I suspect I would be less pleased, as I generally like at least some conclusion in each part of a series.

There are good points here. The voices of the point of view characters, particularly the prisoner’s, are unique. The world is, so far as we see here, pretty dark and grim. The reclusive owner of the Longview is wrapped in secrecy and makes you want to know who he is and why he is so private and secluded. So, yes, a lot to like, if you can get past the no real answers ending.

Overall, not a bad scifi novella. Once you get used to the interesting and different style of the point of view characters, it reads pretty quickly. If you like it, it most definitely will leave you wanting more right away.

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