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Messages from the Future

By ubersoft, author of A Rake by Starlight

Aug 20, 2011: Station151 starts out as a record of the main characters journal, but evolves into a hybrid between that and something else—somewhat like the protagonist himself, in a way—because things happen to the character that make "having time to post a blog or journal entry" somewhat impractical. Still, it’s pretty easy to suspend disbelief on that particular conceit because the story itself is fascinating.

Wayne Robertson is an astrophysicst who is spending six months in Antarctica working at a new radio telescope array. Early into his stretch he detects radio transmissions from space, which he first assumes is an elaborate prank but then realizes that he is actually receiving a message—but not from aliens. Robertson is receiving a transmission from a human astronaut from the future, whose crippled, sabotaged starship is orbiting a singularity. This discovery causes Robertson’s personal world—and, indeed, the entire world—to unravel.

This is a fascinating story. Wayne is the protagonist, but as the story progresses it becomes harder and harder to think of him as the "hero" because things happen to him that make him somewhat responsible for some pretty globally devastating events, and it’s difficult to tell how willing a participant he was.

Even more interesting is that on the Station151 page there is a link to a site called "Unknown Transmission," which tells the other half of the story from the perspective of the stranded crewman from the future, written by the Author’s brother.

Both Station151 and Unknown Transmission are well-written and engaging. Things get confusing as Station151 progresses because Wayne has a breakdown of sorts and begins hallucinating, but even with that the story continued moving forward and didn’t lose me. That’s tricky to pull off, because as soon as that happens you begin to doubt the reliability of the narrator (it is told from Wayne’s perspective).

The writing is solid, the ideas are interesting, the story is enjoyable and it’s a pretty brisk read. The only problem is that the last entry of this story is 30 April 2011 (Unknown Transmissions last updated on 13 March "2087") with no indication of there being more updates. However, there was a gap between Section 8 and Section 9 that went from September 2010 to 1 January 2011, so it’s still quite possible that the story continues to be updated. My suggestion is, if you’re interested, to read through the archives and subscribe to the RSS feed or follow the Twitter account to be notified when it updates again.

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