Monday, October 11, 2010

Let 'Em Breathe Space: A Free Book Review

Let 'Em Breathe Space (free audiobook here) is a novella by Lester del Rey. It's a space-borne murder mystery in which an expedition to Saturn finds itself plagued by potentially harmful accidents and eventually a series of murders and the destruction of plants that maintain the air supply. Who would be foolish enough to endanger the entire ship? Why would anyone be so desperate to abort the trip to Saturn?

The mystery is fairly good, though I had a general idea who had done it (but not exactly why) somewhat before the narrator. In addition to the mystery proper, there is the problem of getting enough breathable air to reach any destination but the grave--the alternative being a death lottery to cut down the number aboard ship to something the remaining plants can support. Even if the narrator, a former engineer washed up by an accident and reduced to a glorified handyman, can find the murderer, there's still the matter of the missing oxygen.

I was surprised, even given del Rey's gifts, at how well the story worked--not only as a mystery, but as a kind of engineering problem and even (in small part) as a kind of romance. Let 'Em Breathe Space is short--just under two hours--and would go quite well with chili or burritos and popcorn. (That will more or less make sense after you've read it.)

Again, that's

Let 'Em Breathe Space

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