Ghost Riders In The Sky Book Review
Take a classic space adventure, mix in a galactic conspiracy, and sprinkle a bit of paranormal activity on top, and you get Ghost Riders in the Sky. An alien species has come to Earth and helped humanity reach much further into the galaxy, allowing for the colonization of other solar systems. But it comes at a cost. Their unique method of faster than light travel requires the use of a navigator that can astral project. This race of alien can’t do it, but some humans are exceptionally good at it. You put them in suspended animation and Boom! they are floating around.
Humans found to have this ability are called navigators and are forced into indentured servitude. The existential loneliness of this life causes many to “burn out” early and not complete their contracts. Those that do complete their contracts find ways to retreat into solitude to deal with their experiences. Not only is it lonely work, but it’s disturbing. They put you into a medically induced coma facing the possibility you’ll never wake up. Your noncorporeal form is conscious the entire time your body is under, expected to float in front of the ship. You have to spend the whole time tracking a single star in the Sky. If you lose track of it or forget which one you are navigating towards the entire ship could be lost, including your own lifeless body. To top it all off, you may have to deal with mysterious apparitions called stargulls.
Our leading character in Ghost Riders in the Sky is navigator Nathan Skoda. Nearing the end of his contract, Skoda is approached with an exciting opportunity. Navigate a secret ship that uses a new and unique navigation method. This method requires the use of another navigator that can see the disembodied form of the navigator in the chair. The second navigator in this scenario is Chandra Kaiser. Chandra is a burnout, no longer navigating ships on her own. The circumstances force them into a space adventure following the inscrutable seagulls into a mysterious unknown.
Ghost Riders in the Sky’s mixture of science fiction with extraordinary, and even paranormal, abilities is classic Timothy Zahn in a shorter form. At only 73 pages, this is a quick read. As a one-off, this novella contains a complete story with a satisfying ending, not an easy feat if you are used to writing longer novels. The only caveat is that Ghost Riders in the Sky is only available as an ebook through Amazon. As the world’s largest ebook retailer, this isn’t a big problem, but if you’re like me and prefer non-Kindle e-readers, it can be annoying. However, this novella is worth firing up the Kindle app on your phone and is short enough that you won’t strain your eyes reading it.