Interference By Terry Grimwood from Elsewhere Press #BookReview # SciFi
Interference By Terry Grimwood
Elsewhere press, PB£8.00
Reviewed by martin willoughby
Dark, dystopian, and utterly believable.
This novella is the story of an attempt by one man and his team to avoid Earth joining a war on a far-off planet. The story and the characters highlight all that is nasty in politics and people and the methods some will use to gain for themselves things they would deny others.
Torstein is one of the two main characters in the book, the other being Katherina. Torstein is leading a mission to the planet of the Ieans, a race whose technology is far greater than that of Humanity’s. He holds the deciding vote on whether to give the Ieans military assistance in their war against a foe the Ieans themselves will not describe and is inclined not to give it. Yet, he has to have a reason to say no. A reason that will satisfy those who long for military involvement and the technology that will flow to Earth as a result.
Upon arrival at the aliens’ homeworld, they find all is peaceful. No sign of war or even a recent battle. No soldiers, no weapons, nothing. Even from space, there are no signs of the ongoing conflict for survival the Ieans claim to be involved in. In the meetings that follow, the Ieans make an offer that Torstein finds hard to refuse, one that would help him reconcile with his wife and give solace to many millions more. It’s also one that many members of his team find personally attractive.
Katherina and Torstein had an affair that ended only a short while ago, and she is not sure why she, a fierce critic of the Assembly and of military action, has been allowed to come. She discovers, from Torstein, that he wanted her here as she is a troublemaker and will find a way to the truth, which he feels the other reporters won’t. And she does.
After seeing an Earth shuttle appear and then disappear in the sky above the city, she detaches herself from the crowd and ventures towards the area where the shuttle appeared. Then she stumbles on the war. Weapons, vehicles, death, and destruction alongside the smells and sounds of war. How was this hidden, and why are human soldiers already here? She also discovers who the Ieans are and their real motives for needing human help.
The revelations about the war and why a technologically advanced race cannot win it and need human help are surprising and disturbing. How the story ends reflects the realities of tyrannical leadership throughout human history. You will find yourself thinking about the world around you, about lies, counter-lies, and propaganda.
Like most of Grimwood’s work, the tale is dark and foreboding, reflecting the more nihilistic parts of human nature, parts that too many of us deny exist. In that sense, he is close to the style of Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space novels. Yet his style of writing is far more precise and less verbose. Easy to follow yet, as with this story, telling a tale that you will remember for some time to come.
If you want a light read before bedtime, this isn’t it. If you want something to read on a train journey that will give you something to think about, this is most definitely the one.