Review: “Flight 404” by Simon Petrie

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Flight 404, by Simon Petrie, is a mystical sci-fi novel that requires close attention while reading. Creating a completely fictional universe is difficult, but Petrie has done a fairly credible job, including the arcane technology by which this universe works.

Charmain Mertz, nee Carlos Miyaki, is piloting the ship Peregrinator to a rendezvous with another pilot who will assume command in search of the deep-space passenger vessel Bougainvillaea, which has disappeared. For reasons that are not clear at the outset, Mertz refuses to make the rendezvous and goes off freelance. It takes some reading to realize that Mertz’s sister and family were on the missing vessel.

The story flips back and forth between Mertz’s efforts to elude pursuit and glimpses of her/his strange background, leading to a climactic ending that, thankfully, makes the difficulty in following the storyline worth it.

This is Petrie’s first novel, and a good first effort. It would have been a better read if some of the technology had been more fulsomely described, but the tension the author manages to infuse into the narrative somewhat overcomes this lack. I give Flight 404 three stars.

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