As part of my craft (“craft” sounds really pompous, but whatever) I try to read indie authors in between the bustle of life and writing books. I recently just finished part 1 of A Torchship Marriage by Rall Mekin. Before I get into the why, I’ll TLDR this review by saying I liked it a lot.

I’ll try and stick to generalities in order to avoid spoilers. The story begins with a man called Rich (which is also a subtitle), who missing his family to tragic circumstances and is now starting throughout as a low-level worker in an off-Earth surroundings. From there, the story goes in unexpected directions, and while it does hearken back to Rich’s defining loss, it doesn’t drive straight into his hangups, which I appreciate. The strength of this story is in the world-building—the iteration of culture, religion, and government into a futuristic setting where there are infinite niches for people to reside in, and a vast range of contrasting perspectives. I’m not a fan of world-building which isn’t thought out (novelty for novelty’s sake), but that isn’t the case in this book. Even though I don’t have a flow chart connecting phrases and actions to past events, I can feel the integrity of the behavioral nuances—I can tell the author created a rich backstory for the book. Like I said, I don’t want to receive into specifics, but the narrative has the feel of an open-world game, where Rich is sampling different points of view through his own disillusionment.

If you’re looking for a concentrated sprint toward a finish line, I’d say this isn’t the book for you. However, there are certain points of clash throughout the book which I think will be fleshed out in future volumes, so whether you’re into a moderate simmer that sets up a solid backdrop of set-piece elements, this is your book.

That being said, it does end with a driving, imminent series of events. The ultimate scene made me clench my teeth in surprise and anxiety (the good kind, where you’re involved in the character’s outcome).

I’m looking forward to the next one. Five out of five stars.

Check it out here: A Torchship Marriage (A Man Called Rich Book 1)

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