Matt Forney
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Gavin’s War by Jamie Mason

Gavin’s War by Jamie Mason is a pretty good sci-fi novella for those who enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction. While I’m not as familiar with Mason’s work as my friend Ann Sterzinger is (it was she who introduced me to him), Gavin’s War has definitely got me interested in his other novels.

It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s still entertaining.

Gavin’s War is set in the Perseid Collapse universe, created by Steven Konkoly and part of Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program, which allows writers to publish officially-licensed works based on other writers’ intellectual properties. The story concerns Gavin Mackenzie, a lone adventurer who is drawn into a plot to warn the residents of post-Event British Columbia of a potential Chinese invasion:

Gavin crouched and moved into the shadow of the structures. The tide was up, sweeping the interior of the nearest shed but leaving the other two dry, in that paradoxical, asymmetrical way nature has of defying our expectations. The more Gavin thought on it, the more sense it made to him that the interior of the buildings would need to be sluiced out daily. He had a hypothesis composed of one part observation and two parts personal history and it wouldn’t take much to validate it.

Mason’s style is reminiscent of Davis Aurini’s, and not just because they’re both Canadians writing about post-apocalyptic Canada. If you enjoyed Aurini’s novel As I Walk These Broken Roads, Gavin’s War is written in the same laconic style. Mason constructs an interesting world and compelling characters through understatement, letting you fill in the blanks with your own mind and creating a richer experience.

Gavin’s War is also brimming with verisimilitude. Mason writes like a man who knows his way around surviving in the wilderness, and when he doesn’t know something, he goes and asks an expert instead of just winging it. Given that sci-fi and fantasy are dominated by nerdy shut-ins who couldn’t wield a steak knife without slicing off their own fingers, Mason’s approach to fiction writing is a bigger deal than you may think.

While it won’t blow your socks off, Gavin’s War is a worthy buy if you enjoy science fiction, post-apocalyptic settings and/or survivalist fiction.

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