Pilgrim by Terrence Atwood

Published: 5th March 2015Goodreads badge
Self Published
Pages: 146
Format: ebook
Genre: Science Fiction
★   ★  – 2 Stars

An exploratory probe is launched into space on a mission to investigate the possibility of extraterrestrial life. However, a cabal of military forces have covertly converted the probe into a weapon of mass destruction – arming it with a nuclear payload. 

When the launch of the craft goes awry, the probe crashes back on Earth and begins carrying out its mission – eradicating all life. It’s up to Catherine Tennison, an intrepid NASA scientist, and Army Colonel Walt Macken to capture and disarm the probe before it brings about Armageddon. 

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.

This is quite a short novel, and one that captures a single event and moment in time, focusing on the action and outcome rather than offer too much background detail and depth of characters and environment. It is also written in present tense which took a while to adjust to. Whether the approach was to make it feel more in the moment I’m not sure, but while I got used to it, it never felt right.

The narrative is told and presented in snippets and in paragraphs rather than a flowing narration. It jumps from scene to scene quickly, a bit like a movie cutting from one place to another, without connection sentence or any clear indication where it will go. This wasn’t a real problem overall but it did feel a bit like we were jumping all over the place with random moments put together rather than a steady story.

From a promising beginning that seemed as if it would develop and grow, it falters soon after. It remains flat even when there is danger and peril to characters, never quite creating the excitement of tension needed. The story itself is a bit hard to believe as well, even for science fiction, but if you suspend your belief and take the story as is the events aren’t the main concern.

The main issues I found were the lack of depth in the characters and surprisingly the lack of concern I had for them when this probe was hunting them all down. I couldn’t connect with them, and honestly did not care what happened to them. This was my feeling for most of the novel. I was not interested in the outcome and I found myself picking apart things than getting into the story.

Even aside from these character issues, the story needs further editing. There are jarring dialogue and bad grammar throughout, and punctuation needs improving. The sentences don’t quite flow and the language and description is a bit lacking.

But there were some good bits. I did like how Atwood has worked in the probe movements and actions, fitting them pertinently in between other scenes. Stepping back you can see what Atwood has tried to achieve, a quick action/Armageddon story of a wayward machine wiping out humanity, but it just hasn’t worked. The words are there, and scenes in the right places, but the feeling or the anticipation isn’t, and when you don’t care about the characters you can’t worry for them when they’re killed.

Overall the concept was ok but the execution was not that great or enjoyable to read. With some editing it may improve but as it is now, I’m glad it was as short as it was because it couldn’t have kept me interested for much longer.

You can purchase Pilgrim via the following


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