After whittling our initial 28-book allotment down to three, my SPSFC2 team has received six more semifinalists from other judging teams. Our scores of these six new books, along with our original three semifinalists, will combine with with 81 other scores (nine each from nine teams) to determine the SPSFC2 finalists.
Each of the six books we’re reviewing this round comes with a recommendation from another blogger judging this competition, and almost all of them come with multiple strong recommendations from members of their first-round judging team. So keep in mind when you read our reviews that they are only our own thoughts, and they do not exist in a vacuum. And as always, remember that our opinions are our own, and a book not working for one or more of us does not mean it isn’t well worth reading.
So much for the standard caveats. Today, we’ll be discussing a hard sci-fi novel of danger, adventure, and exploration: Night Music by Tobias Cabral.
Jay’s Review and Rating
Night Music is a well-written short novel that combines tropes in interesting ways to keep the reader guessing. However, I did feel it tried to emphasize too much in its relatively limited page time, making it harder to fully appreciate some of the standout elements. For me, the result is a mixed bag, but there’s enough to make this worth looking into for hard sci-fi aficionados.
Jay has rated Night Music 6.5/10. For more detail, check out his full review.
Josh’s Review and Rating
This is a novel of a future world where a team is sent from their deployment near the moon to investigate the loss of communication from a scientific base on Mars…a loss of communication that seems to have been caused by alien influence. The result is a novel that is less about conflict with some antagonist, but more about exploration and discovery and wonder, as our protagonist Seth and the rest of the team find more and more strange things occurring on Mars. There isn’t really a plot arc here…or even much of character arcs (although character development does happen), and yet Night Music manages to weave it all together with wonder and fascination in a way to still be oddly enthralling.
Josh has rated Night Music 7.5/10. For more detail, check out his full review.
Matt’s Review and Rating
Cabral comes into this short novel long on ideas. Night Music gives us the zoomed lens of a Martian colony distress mission and takes care in its scientific foundations. The close proximity, small cast adds good psychological depth—with the resulting story playing out as an Andy Weir-like procession toward a Jeff VanderMeer-esque discovery. It does feel like there could have been more to fill out this record.
Matt has rated Night Music 6/10.
Sarah’s Review and Rating
I ended up really enjoying this one! It’s a very uniquely narrated adventure, described in intense detail at times with lots of space tech immersion. But that same attention pays off when our main characters land on Mars and all that follows. The world-building and unfolding tension hooked me good.
Sarah has rated Night Music 7.5/10.
Update: Night Music has been selected as one of the seven SPSFC2 finalists–congratulations!