Winter World by A.G. Riddle

Winter World by A.G. Riddle
Winter World by A.G. Riddle

The novel “Winter World” by A.G. Riddle was published for the first time in 2019. It’s the first book in The Long Winter trilogy.

In her role as commander of the International Space Station, Emma Matthews is running the mission of space probes that aim to monitor solar activity to try to understand why temperatures on Earth are dropping rapidly. She barely has the time to realize that there’s an alien object near the Sun before the Station is destroyed and Emma puts on her space suit just in time.

James Sinclair is in federal prison where he’s serving a very long sentence. The situation becomes even worse when a revolt begins to avoid being abandoned during the evacuation to less cold areas of the world. James manages to save himself and ends up at NASA, where his skills are useful in participating in a space mission that aims to examine the alien object and possibly understand how to destroy it.

“Winter World” projects us into a not-too-distant future in which a new ice age has begun due to a very quick drop in temperatures. The discovery of an alien object that is decreasing the amount of energy reaching Earth immediately suggests an alien threat.

The story is told in the first person by the two protagonists: Emma Matthews, who initially is the commander of the International Space Station, and James Sinclair, in prison for reasons that are not initially clarified and are revealed very slowly over the course of the novel.

From this initial book, the Long Winter series seems to be inspired by classic science fiction with some “updates” such as the presence of a female protagonist, even if she often ends up acting as a spectator or little more. Despite the alternation of the two protagonists’ points of view, the plot is rather linear. From the beginning, it’s clear that behind the new ice age, there’s an alien threat with developments that are used to address it.

There’s an apocalyptic element in humanity’s story of survival in conditions where the Earth is barely habitable. Some human enclaves are concentrated in the least frozen areas but even there, cold and hunger pose a threat. Despite this, NASA finds who knows how the means to conduct space missions.

Aside from doubts about some possible plot holes, the general impression is that “Winter World” is a novel written for people who haven’t read much science fiction. Honestly, the readers who already have some experience of this genre might find the plot predictable, even in its twists and turns, and the characters stereotyped.

On the bright side, the story is developed at a fast pace with few pauses, just to catch your breath by meeting the protagonists’ families every now and then. A.G. Riddle manages to give a sense of apocalypse with a danger of extinction for humanity if no one manages to end the Long Winter.

In the parts of the novel set in space, there’s a sense of urgency, also thanks to some leaps forward in time. Seeking contact with aliens in the hope of reaching mutual understanding is crucial but it’s only a hope. It’s clear that the priority is to look for their weakness to exploit if the contact goes badly.

In many ways, “Winter World” seems like the script for a disaster movie of the type that exalts the courage of the protagonists and doesn’t particularly pay attention to plausibility. It has its own ending, which, however, is also used to lay the foundation for the sequel. If your suspension of disbelief is enough and you appreciate stories with lots of action in the style of pulp magazine science fiction, you might like this novel. It’s available on Amazon USA, UK, and Canada.

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