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Nocturne by Jus Neuce
Review by Edward Carmien
Aio Publishing Company Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 1933083018
Date: 28 September, 2005 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Old structures of governance set down after the landing are, it seems, close to being supplanted. What sensibility will govern the coming shift? How will Kellen and Graham, who become embroiled in the early bubbling of this change, make their way in an environment that promises not the planned, expected life they were raised to inhabit but instead a life which promises something unexpected?

A first novel by Jus Neuce, there are some rough edges. The setting is presented with flat, affect-less prose that can leave one grasping at the smooth edges of half-obscured knowledge. Aio Publishing Company is adding a short introduction and a glossary to the published edition of the text that will help to bring the exotic setting alive. That the main characters are by societal intent office drones makes them both interesting and annoying to follow along as a reader -- one constantly wishes to reach out and strangle them, or at least give them a solid goosing. They are annoying in one sense because Neuce is so successful at presenting them as members of a culturally distinct society they strike the reader as being irritatingly different. Never forget: Nocturne is not Earth, and the people who live there are not simply Americans in Space.

Strong women characters drive the plot, which winds its way through Nocturne's mazelike society, made up of a centrally planned economy and clanlike kinship systems. The novel ends with tantalizing hints of future revelations in a future work--the conflict resolved in this story is clearly only a rumble on the horizon of change to come. Aio Publishing, a small press, carries on a strong tradition of making new and interesting authors available to the reading public. Readers who enjoy a tale that speculates about who we might be in strange places far from Earth, who thrive more on psychological tension than on shoot-outs or the usual apparatus of space opera, who find pleasure in the mental exertion that comes from reading prose aimed high in the cerebellum will find in Nocturne an enjoyable read. If you simply must have torn bodices and spaceships that scream through space, look elsewhere.

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