Light Chaser


Peter F. Hamilton & Gareth L. Powell


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

November 28, 2021

picked up Light Chaser because the attractive cover caught my eye (the cover art was created by Ben Zweifel, an artist that is new to me). I recognize the author Peter Hamilton - he is one of those acclaimed writers that I always intend to get around to reading - he produces big fat trilogies. I have read two of his stand alone novels: Great North Road and Fallen Dragon and liked them both. I really should find time to read his voluminous trilogy-novels. The author, Gareth L. Powell, is new to me. I see that he has written stand-alone novels on his own, and based upon the strength of this story, I will now look out for other books that he has written.

Light Chaser is a novelette, it is just 173 pages long. I wish it had been expanded to full novel length, it is an entertaining read. Light Chaser is the story of Amahle, a nearly immortal woman (she has eight letter DNA!) who flies the two kilometer-long ship Mnemosyne between the many worlds of the Domain. The Domain is an expanse of planets colonized by humans, each with a unique culture. Amahle flies a circuit, visiting a set pattern of planets. Because the Mnemosyne flies at an appreciable percentage of light speed, Amahle ages only years as she crosses the distances of light years. On each planet, Amahle hands out memory collars - these are advanced devices that record memories of the people who wear them. Because a thousand years might pass before Amahle revisits the planet, the memory collars are handed down from generation to generation, so each collars holds the collective memories of a family tree. Amahle trades advanced technologies (medicines, knowledge, materials) in exchange for getting these memory collars back, and then she hands out a new set of collars to be collected on her subsequent visit. Because Amahle will trade valuable goods for the return of a collar, they are highly prized.

At the end of a complete circuit, Amahle flies the Mnemosyne back to the planet Glisten, which has the most advanced technology. There, the Mnemosyne gets repaired and recharged for another of its endless loops. The memory collars are dropped off, and new ones are supplied.

After retrieving a set of memory collars, Amahle is reviewing their contents when she gets a uniquely strange message. A strange character, whom she has never met, gives her a warning - do not trust your ship's AI. The stranger calls himself Carloman, and he bears a tattoo. How could such a person have know Amahle? Did she meet him long ago, and simply forgotten Carloman? Amahle has lived for centuries, and she knows some of her memories have long been lost. But that is just due to the passage of years, not due to anything sinister by the AI during one of her medical treatments...right?

I was impressed by this story, so I am looking in our library catalog to see what other works of Gareth Powell might be available.