I have read and enjoyed several of Mercurio D Rivera’s ‘Wergen’ stories in ‘Interzone’ over the past few years, so I was very pleased to receive a review copy of his new novella ‘Freefall’, set in the Wergen universe.
The humanoid Wergen are an advanced race who become enthralled with humans, devoting their lives to studying them and trying to help them. This relationship, the way humans subsequently take advantage of them and the following Wergen rebellion all form the background of the earlier stories as we also learn fascinating details of their society. In the flashback sections of ‘Freefall’, we see some of these significant developments again from the viewpoint of Duncan, initially a student when the Wergen arrive on Earth and ultimately a soldier fighting an interplanetary war against them.
The title refers to the prolonged freefall of Duncan and his fellow soldiers as they plunge into the atmosphere of a far distant gas giant in search of allies in the war. These sections really highlight Mercurio D Rivera’s brilliance as he makes what amounts to long sections of falling into fascinating reading. The technical, psychological and sociological components of the mission make for dramatic reading. The mission is revealed one stage at a time as a disoriented Duncan is questioned on board a Wergen space station to find out what became of the mission. His relationship with his commander, his Wergen shadow and the whole war, are revealed one layer at a time as he recalls the mission and thinks back to earlier times when the Wergen arrival had a profound effect on his life.
There is some dependence on back story here or maybe not dependence, but perhaps just that the story takes on more depth if you are familiar with the earlier tales. This novella functions perfectly well as a standalone tale, but things mentioned briefly are expanded in other stories and help explain the depth of feeling that those on both sides of the conflict experience.
In all, an excellent addition to the Wergen canon, and a very good novella in its own right. I hope and expect that we will see more stories in the series and I will definitely be on the lookout for them.
Gareth D. Jones
(pub: Immersion Press. 84 page novella hardback. Price: £10.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-95639-247-3)
check out website: www.immersionpress.com/?page_id=7