By Lewis Shiner
Ambition drove their dreams, blinding them to the price others would pay.
10 years ago governments around the world collapsed. In the chaos, communication with the Martian colony, Frontera, was lost. Ten years later the world’s most powerful companies have decided to mount an expedition to Mars. Even dead, the colony is an important step towards reclaiming the stars. But when they arrive the crew find Frontera alive and well, and in no mood for visitors. Tensions mount as secrets come to light, forcing everyone to question who they can trust.
Audiences are thrown into an adventure already underway, with very little to guide them. Frequent flashbacks help to fill some of the gaps, but information is always carefully managed, doling out answers a few at a time, ensuring audiences always have a question to drive them forward. Crisp scenes compete with dry summaries that force audiences to slow down. The temptation to hurry on is palpable; almost every segment ends on a cliffhanger, but those who rush will miss out on most of the story, which lies buried under the words on the page.
Brief references hint at a deeper meaning, as each character struggles between their individual dreams, their obligations to others, and the grim, graphic realities that no one wants to face. Unfortunately it’s just too much. The story tries to do it all, but while the writing is sharp, there just isn’t enough time to properly “show” who the characters are, and simultaneously build up to a proper catharsis. The story is forced to rely on flashbacks and inner reflections to blatantly state what should be left for audiences to infer on their own.
Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom