A week ago, Hercules was content with his life as a committed psychotherapist and one half of a couple. Then his partner left him for another man and his car was hit by a meteorite. The noise of this and the fact that car alarms are set off brings Herc’s neighbors outside, including street newcomer, Pyotr.
Pyotr (pronounced Pee-yo-ter, thank you Atom Yang!) comes to Herc’s notice, not only for his knowledge that the damage was caused to his car by a meteorite and not a meteor, but because he offers Herc a lift to anywhere he needs to go, and because he is jogging barefoot. Touched by Pyotr’s kindness and the fact that Herc has been hiding in his house for a week and not welcomed his new neighbour, Herc decides to pay Pyotr a visit. Herc discovers Pyotr is an astrophysicist who loves tea and as their friendship develops, that he is gay. However, when a world-wide catastrophe arrives, the question is whether the two men can survive.
The challenge for this week in our Reading Challenge Month was to choose a book in a genre I do not usually read and that is science fiction. Herc and Pyotr is admittedly not heavy sci-fi, though there are enough elements for me to include it under this genre.
Yang has a very interesting and distinctive writing style, full of comprehensive descriptions and ingenuity. Herc and Pyotr asks the reader to respond intelligently to the content of the story and events – and I love to read something that challenges me mentally. The conversations between Herc and Pyotr are informed, though there are certainly light-hearted moments, like when they visit the observatory only to find a rowing boat in a tree! For me, there was an unpredictability to the events in Herc and Pyotr and I enjoyed how I felt the warmth of the blossoming relationship between the two men, only to be suddenly struck by the apprehension of impending doom. Yang is able to give his reader a very solid understanding of both his protagonists, which is reflected in their occupations, their actions towards others, and their respect for their cultures — and their Asian heritages blend just like the Russian Caravan tea they first drink together.
I very much liked the way in which Yang’s novella combines the science fiction aspects with the romantic ones and though I was disappointed with the ending of the novella (I can’t tell you why), it did not spoil my overall enjoyment of Herc and Pyotr too much.
I would definitely read more of the Storming Meteors stories – and also am a little more open to reading sci-fi more often now!
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for Genre Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Less Than Three Press. Three lucky winners will each receive a selection of print books. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Genre Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!