The Blue Ice Pilot

by Lou Fisher
Reviewed date: 2004 Jul 1
Rating: 3
247 pages
cover art

Larry Wickes was a pilot. Then the Mexicans nearly killed him, the wars ended, and he was up back on Earth. Earth was dying. On Earth you could live with three families in a broken, rusted school bus. Or you could sign up with GGI to be a warman, to be poked and prodded and measured, frozen in a carton and shipped off to a warehouse on a colony planet, to be revived just in time to be killed in the latest war. FREEZE/FIGHT/FORGET, that was the slogan of GGI.

But Larry Wickes was a pilot. So he signed up with GGI, but not as a warman. He signed up so he could be a pilot again, because somebody had to fly the ships that hauled the warmen to the highest-paying colony planets. And he was a good pilot. But why would a good pilot, someone who escaped death once at the hands of the Mexicans, and again from the clutches of a dying Earth, throw everything away by refusing to deliver a load of warmen to the Foy-Rigger colony? What happened at Foy-Rigger that would make Larry Wickes sacrifice everything to stay away?

The Blue Ice Pilot is a decent book. Lou Fisher writes the anti-hero well; Larry Wickes is unlikable and despicable. But the conditions of Earth are so bad, so hopeless, and Wickes has gone through so much that we can almost forgive him, we can almost understand.

Blue Ice Pilot offers a great description of a dying and hopeless Earth. About half the novel is about Larry Wickes on Earth, working to scratch out a meagre existence and trying to find some purpose in life. But the novel bogs down when Wickes is out in space again, trying to stay away from Foy-Rigger.

The problem is not with the plot so much as it is with the fundamental assumptions of the author. Mr. Fisher tries to create suspense by withholding information from the reader. All the characters in the book know what is unique about the Foy-Rigger colony, but somehow it's supposed to create suspense if the reader doesn't know. We don't know who Carl Min Foy is, or what his significance is--but everybody in the story does. Withholding information from the reader is not clever. It does not make the story better, it does not create suspense. It antagonizes the reader.

Blue Ice Pilot is good enough to overcome the bungled attempt at clever writing. I rate it a solid three out of five.

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