Book Review: MURMANSK-13 by Richard-Steven Williams
In an alternate 1992, the crew of the Riyadh awaken from cryosleep expecting to be nearing home after years of travel. Instead, they discover that their ship has barely moved, and their Chief Officer is nowhere to be found. Low on fuel and supplies and years away from their intended destination, the ship’s captain decides to explore the mysterious Soviet station where they are docked. There, they come across an even bigger threat, a crew of infected, undead, and once human creatures along with an odd mix of survivors. The combination of desperation to survive and lack of trust among the still-human passengers causes chaos to erupt in a sci-fi twist of a classic zombie tale.
Murmansk-13 is a heavy read weighed down by numerous characters, detailed back stories, and a thick vocabulary peppering its narration. A great zombie or outbreak tale relies on likable characters in order to thrive, and I found it difficult to attach myself to any of the characters in this story, despite their diverse and well-planned backgrounds.
The writing itself is clever but maybe a little too complex for a horror tale. It’s easy to get lost in the constant transitioning perspectives and the fictional science behind the space travel and the politics of this alternate reality. While the writer shows off his vast vocabulary and world building strengths, the text itself is in need of a thorough edit.
Still, I give this story points for its unique premise and the blending of two similar but distinct genres. It may just be better suited to a bigger sci-fi fan than myself.
Review by Laura Smith