Venture Press, out now
Sometimes the worst punishment is to live…
Tim Lebbon’s inspired reworking of the themes of Samuel Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a thought-provoking short read. It resituates the Mariner in deep space, on board an ark heading for a new world after the Earth has been devastated. A hasty misjudgement on his part leads to a crime almost beyond his imagination… but one that he has to describe.
If you know the poem (or the Iron Maiden song based on it ) , you’ll have an idea of the key beats that Lebbon hits. He sets up two very different societies within the tale with an economy of words, with new facets constantly revealed. There are some truly horrific moments, some of which are deliciously drawn out as they inexorably approach – an element of Lebbon’s writing style that I have to admit I look forward to in each of his books, whether it’s in his original fiction, or his licensed work. And he builds the relationship between the narrating Mariner and his shipmates aboard Cradle, as well as with the engaged couple to whom he relates his tale, with deft strokes, so that you can see the weaknesses within the man that led to his Captain Black-like hasty action.
It may well lead you – as it did me – to rereading the Coleridge poem (and/or listening to the aforementioned song) and then going back to see how cleverly the two intertwine…
Verdict: An enthralling tale. 9/10