There are many science fiction stories that talk about how humanity is at its end and how one man (yes, more often than not, it’s a man) has to save it by going on an interplanetary or intergalactic quest of sorts. I haven’t yet read a book in which the futuristic setting of a science fiction novel is treated as normal, as we would treat a story set in current times. That’s probably because I’m not usually that big on science fiction, although things are slowly changing in the best way possible. One of the reasons behind this shift is a short novella called Steven Johnson and the Mission 1 by Yashesh Rathod.
In this book, the protagonist, Steven Johnson, if you hadn’t guessed already, finds himself on a different planet and now, has to find his way back to Earth after receiving news of his father’s disappearance. But he has no money or conveyance, so to find this, he approaches a house of power where he is immediately hired when the boss learns of his abilities. He is sent on what seem like impossible missions and he comes out unscathed, having come up with the most inventive ideas to get through them. His boss, impressed, offers him handsome rewards for these.
But will Steven Johnson be able to gather enough money to help him reach his home planet? Will he survive these missions at all? And will he be able to free his father and bring him back home?
I must say that the concept and the fast pace of the book is a big plus. It’s action-packed, right from the beginning to the very end, and you begin to root for Steven Johnson to win every one of the fights that ensue. We also become complacent about Steven Johnson’s abilities and begin to think that he will win every fight that he gets into and accomplish every mission he embarks on. That’s the thing about Steven Johnson – he is a protagonist that readers will love to support because of the sheer action-packed entertainment he provides. There’s no point in the story where you are bored, and it is tightly woven, even for a novella.
There are, however, certain things that I did not like about the book. The writing, for one. I had already mentioned in a review of a previous book by the author that it needs some editing and proofreading because it is tedious and filled with unnecessary, juvenile details. It continues in this book as well where instead of showing the reader what is going on, he tells us about it. Which isn’t a bad thing, really, but combine it with the inane details, and it becomes a half-baked book at best. The contrast between the quality of the story and the writing is stark, because while the story and its concept is good, the writing isn’t up to the mark.
But that’s the thing: it’s a true wonder because it still works. I just wish more work had been done on it before putting it out into the world for a better experience for the reader.