Station Six – by S.J. Klapecki

Station Six is a sci-fi novella featuring class struggle and queer people in space – which is, in a sentence, both the entire list of reasons I was drawn to this book, and also pretty much everything I have to say about it. Well, ok, I can try to elaborate a bit if I try.

Title: Station Sex

Author: S.J. Klapecki

Original Publisher: AK Press

Publication Date: 21 February 2023

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 158

Standalone or Series: Standalone

Synopsis: Max a dockyard worker on the eponymous space station, a job that they despise but that, as it goes in most cases, they need to make ends meet. When the mega-corporation they work for announces that most of their employees are about to be made redundant, since they plan to turn the station in a mostly automated resort, Max is shaken out of their passive resignation and soon ends up getting involved into union activism, riots, and sabotage.

Analysis: The story is told in third person from Max’s point of view, in a plain, every-day prose that may not be especially remarkable, but at least fits the character.

As I mentioned, the appeal of this novella is mainly in its themes: and indeed, we do get a good serving of anti-capitalism, rightful indignation, disenfranchised people fighting for their rights, and a nonbinary character who exists and it’s no big deal. All of this on a space station. To this extent, the book delivers what it had promised and I am not complaining.

I must mention, however, that the book is very much thin, and not only in size: the sci-fi setting is merely aesthetic, with futuristic elements that are essentially stock props, and very little that’s truly speculative. The class conflict mirrors very real themes, which I appreciate, but it does so in a fairly unimaginative way – at least for the standards I’d expect from a SFF book. Station Six is not about an ingeniously conceived future dystopia, whose imaginary wickedness more or less indirectly elicits a reflection on the wrongs of our own time. It’s not about a hypotethical society, torn apart by conflicts that would be inconceivable nowadays, but that mirror some of our ethical dilemmas. It does not show us any theme or issue from a particularly new angle. Plain and simple, it’s a story that could have been set nowadays – except, we needed a space station because space is cool.

Similiarly, the characters are okay and easy to sympathise with, but not all that fleshed out. Max is queer and a brutally exploited worker and a bit of a hacker too. Vic is a union activist. Which, again, are nice concepts, but really, I would have loved some more development.

Conclusion: Station Six is not an inherently bad book, it’s just much shallower than I had originally hoped – but maybe it’s me, maybe I just expect too much from a teeny tiny debut novella. I appreciated the general sentiment and didn’t hate the writing, so I think I’ll keep a hopeful eye on the author.

Content Warning: Death – Violence – Mental Illness – Classism – Police Brutality

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: