It’s eight hundred years in the future, a time when the Earth had become so populated, all graveyards had to be relocated to another planet. It’s an entire world of graves in a lonely, desolate part of the galaxy, and Harvey Crane, the sole caretaker, finds he’s not alone on…CEMETERY PLANET.
I bought J. Joseph Wright’s Cemetery Planet a while back based on the blurb because it sounded pretty awesome and the sample seemed to support that idea. When I bought it, I didn’t realize it was a short episode of an apparently five-part series, or that it was less than 50 pages long. Had I noticed that, I probably would have skipped it.
Still, since I got it, I read it and found myself wishing it was longer. Mr. Wright managed to build out a fairly incredible world in a short span of time and words. As I read the story, it was so easy to picture what Cemetery Planet must be like and how incredibly isolating it would feel being alone there. This made for great atmosphere and an element of subtle suspense just from the mind filling in the gaps of what a “strange” sound might do to a person there.
Alas, because it was so short, Harvey ended up being the only decently developed character. He was an interesting one, to be sure, and his thoughts on being there, on his work, and what not made him highly relatable and helped pull me into the story quickly. But it was also frustrating, because at times he flipped from being a fairly intelligent, if a bit self-serving, guy to acting so stupid you almost wanted to scream at the book for him to just go ahead and die. There were at least two moments in the story where he was acting like a stereotypical horror movie character who goes down a dark flight of stairs after hearing a sound, and who goes alone and with no light or weapon. I mean seriously??
The story has a nice atmosphere and the set up is interesting and unique. Some of it was pretty predictable, though, which ruined a lot of the intended suspense. Almost as soon as Lea is introduced, I knew the broad strokes of what would end up happening. I also found Harvey’s feelings for Lea without any real substance and unexplained, giving them a shallow feel as if they were an afterthought tossed in to give her some reason for her actions.
I’d love to see what Mr. Wright could do with this concept, expanded and revised into a full length novel instead of being a series of little shorts. The descriptions of the planet and the awesome ways of world building without wasting pages and pages on overly technical descriptions make it more palatable for someone like me who isn’t a huge sci-fi reader, and again, the overall concept is a fascinating idea. I could so picture us being selfish enough to dump our graves on some other planet, without really thinking about the consequences, and people no longer bothering to visit because it’s not “convenient.”
Now, it may seem odd that I say I wish it was longer when it is a “series”, however this volume itself felt “complete” in terms of the overall story, leaving no real draw for me to look at the rest of the series. While I do wish this story itself was longer, with more details and fleshing out Harvey and especially Lea’s characters more, drawing out the events more, it ends at a good point that felt “final” to me.
So, overall I’d say Cemetery Planet was a decent little short story with great novel potential. It was compelling enough to keep me reading and I felt satisfied at the end.
Rating: 3/5 stars