Raven Oak is best known for her fantasy novel ‘Amaskan’s Blood’ which has sold rather well in the USA. This leads me to the question: can Oak write SF? ‘Class-M Exile’ is a novella set in the far future. Having been on the losing side, humans are now scarce amongst the surviving populations and regarded as little more than vermin. For an author being successful in one field doesn’t necessarily mean that you can be successful in another. Having read ‘Class-M Exile’, I think Raven Oak can.
This is quite a short piece being only 64 pages long but being longer than the usual short story and shorter than the average novel it fits the definition of a novella. The story is told from the perspective of the alien Eerl, who’s on a tourist trip to the class-M planet Bay-zar. Eerl is a Tersic and I think female but it’s hard to tell, but we do know she/it has three legs, multiple eyes and noses. She also speaks and thinks with an accent derived from the southern United States of America probably due to her studies of humans. Eerl has the misfortune to run into a real live ‘hu-man’ girl called Mel.
Given humans reputation when one turns up alive and well on Bay-zar. it attracts attention which for Mel is not good news. With Eerl’s assistance the pair manages to get a lift on an outbound spaceship but, of course, things only get worse. Mel s driven to discover the truth behind her parent’s fate as she doesn’t know if they are dead or alive or where they are. Eerl feels compelled to help and accompanies Mel as she zeros in on the truth.
There’s a nice twist to the end of this story and, while it’s short, there’s a hidden complexity to universe Mel and Eerl inhabit. It sort of cries out for a longer novel to explore the history and the human, ryddarl and tersic races. With the exception of the ryddarl, things are glossed over to some extent, presumably to keep the novella from growing into a full-sized novel. There is lots of material here which could be used in other stories and the ending has that delicious quality where it can be interpreted. It could be this or it could be that but we won’t know until Raven Oak puts pen to paper and tells us.
I enjoyed ‘Class-M Exile’. not only for the main story and plot twists, but for the implied depth to the back story. It’s well worth reading.
(pub: Grey Sun Press. 64 pages eBook. Price: $1.99 (US ISBN: 978-0-9908157-5-4
check out website: www.greysunpress.com