The Far Reaches Reviews: “Void” by Veronica Roth


Somewhat recently, Amazon got together six writers you’ve likely heard of and tasked them with writing science fiction stories. It’s called “The Far Reaches.” And, with how fun it was reviewing the similar series, “Creature Feature,” it seemed like a good idea to continue the trend.

So, we’ll be seeing which one is the best, and going over them in the order they are presented. Starting with…

“Void” by Veronica Roth

Void” is a murder mystery story, front and center. And, with as much forthrightness, I’ll admit to my lack of knowledge of the subgenre. I don’t know the conventions. By my understanding, the true gold standard of a murder mystery story is if you could feasibly solve it before the reveal, even if it would be quite difficult to do so. But I did not solve it, did not attempt to solve it, and I don’t know if it could be solved.

My focus, when reading “Void,” was on the sci-fi premise. “How It Unfolds” delighted me with how it plays with time, and I didn’t know if “Void” would do something similar. Thankfully, it does. Not with the same center focus—but it’s also experimenting with how it affects people. Just in a more down-to-earth (pun intended) way.

Here’s this one’s premise: spatial relatively is really weird, and for the crew and guests of the ship Redundancy, every trip takes massive amounts of time for everything outside it. But this is a known feature, and people willingly interact with it all the time.

The main way this manifests in “Void” is in the various background details as our amateur sleuth—who is endearingly a mega-fan of a detective show—travels aboard a massive ship. We get these fascinating snapshots of how culture outside changes constantly. It’s delightfully anachronistic, with cycling classes and smoking lounges both being viable forms of entertainment for eclectic guests. I had a brief moment where I was concerned that all of that creativity would remain simply set dressing; that it would just be a murder mystery in an intriguing location: but no. The sci-fi concepts inform the ending, even helping set up a misdirection for the mystery.

“Void” is also, notably, the first “cosmic comfort” media I’ve ever experienced, as opposed to cosmic horror. The titular void of space, the inconceivable scale of time, and yet more, are mostly presented not as inherently terrible, just an aspect of the universe. And one that people don’t have to fear. I’m not sure this theme will eventually form itself as a subgenre of sorts (maybe a microgenre) but the change of pace was enjoyable.

That’s the best word to sum up “Void,” actually. It’s enjoyable. The prose is solid and easy to read. There might be just a few too many names, both people and with the worldbuilding, for such a short story, but it’s otherwise easy to follow and has a good pace to how often you get new information. The two main characters also have a delightful dynamic. You do get a sense they’ve both lived lives outside of what we’re reading. The whole setting, really, is like that—and I wouldn’t mind reading more stories set on the Redundancy. And, by my metrics, that’s a good impression for any short story to invoke.

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