Containment is a tightly plotted novel about the colonization of Venus.  The word ‘tight’ is apt for so many other features of the novel: the rigidly controlled birth rate on the colony; the career path options and training; the space which is comprised of linked pods; the air problem; the 110,000 plants which produce oxygen; and the use of limited energy.  We are constantly reminded that Venus is the least hospitable planet in the solar system.

The author revels in writing this novel.  In chapter nine he fluently and convincingly presents the case for colonizing Venus as opposed to Mars.  Cantrell’s use of science and technological research tools makes the habitation on Venus plausible but he is not above, like Cam, using duct tape to patch together disparate scientific genres.

The main character of this novel is Arik.  The way Cantrell develops his genius, this solver of problems, is wonderful.  Although I find some areas of Arik’s ignorance somewhat inexplicable, given the whole childhood and youth he had to ask them, I am right there with him as he struggles to understand the environment and the people he is trying to save. He is so dominant his wife, Cadie, just doesn’t lift of the page with the same power.

In contrast to so many off-world novels the baser instincts do not run riot.  The threat to their existence is much more profound and I was caught up in the tension concerning the ‘dead air’; tenuousness of the continued existence of the colony; the urgency in finding a solution; and the battle with hierarchy of individuals who try and contain and subvert his understanding.

My only complaint, which I offer very diffidently as I blame my comprehension, is that I am still mystified as the to the mystery behind the door.  Yet, even though I stumble at the last hurdle, I am thoroughly sure that I would recommend this book, Containment. Maybe someone might direct me to the paragraph that holds the last key to a full understanding of the connection between Venus and Earth.

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