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For centuries, men and women have manned lighthouses to ensure the safe passage of ships. It is a lonely job, and a thankless one for the most part. Until something goes wrong. Until a ship is in distress.

In the 23rd century, this job has moved into outer space. A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at many times the speed of light. These beacons are built to be robust. They never break down. They never fail.

At least, they aren't supposed to.

256 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 12, 2015

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About the author

Hugh Howey

154 books53.4k followers
I'm the author of WOOL, a top 5 science fiction book on Amazon. I also wrote the Molly Fyde saga, a tale of a teenager from the 25th century who is repeatedly told that girls can't do certain things -- and then does them anyway.

A theme in my books is the celebration of overcoming odds and of not allowing the cruelty of the universe to change who you are in the process. Most of them are classified as science fiction, since they often take place in the future, but if you love great stories and memorable characters, you'll dig what you find here. I promise.

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5 stars
4,813 (28%)
4 stars
7,070 (41%)
3 stars
4,080 (24%)
2 stars
869 (5%)
1 star
145 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,350 reviews
45 reviews100 followers
January 12, 2016
This story blew me away. I chose to pick up this book based on the fact that I highly enjoyed Wool Omnibus, and wanted to read another work by Howey. In such a short work, Howey has really given readers a complete science fiction masterpiece. When I first began reading, I was reminded of The Martian; but as I read on, I discovered that Beacon 23 is so much more than a sometimes humorous story of a man alone in space.
Beacon 23 really speaks to the politics of our world today. Much like the visionary works of sci-fi masters such as Arthur C. Clarke, H.P Lovecraft, and Isaac Asimov, Howey tells a story of a warring, futuristic society which (minus the alien races) is not too far off from the world we live in today. We fight for what we think is right, but doesn't the other side fight for the same thing? Howey's characters find that fighting for peace is equivalent to lying to an empath.
Beacon 23 caught me off guard in many ways, but none more so than the profound realizations the main character comes to. In a world, or universe, defined by violence and a fear of the unknown, it is up to us as individuals to question the accepted status quo in order to conquer hate and discover love. As the cliche goes, we are all in this together; whether Ryph or human, we must learn to trust in order to make quantifiable progress.
Profile Image for Swrp.
665 reviews
April 2, 2023
"Go quietly, and you`re a number. Go in spectacular fashion, and you`re a name."

Beautiful writing!
Profile Image for Dennis.
659 reviews269 followers
March 11, 2021
A lighthouse keeper in space does some deep soul-searching.

The unnamed protagonist is a veteran of intergalactic war that has suffered a lot and now just wants to be left alone. NASA stationed him at a beacon that is supposed to take care of passing spaceships. To make sure they don’t crash into some piece of junk or an asteroid at twenty times the speed of light. Honestly, the beacon does all of this by itself. He just has to make sure that the thing keeps running. However, the beacon is just as battered as the protagonist’s soul.

99% of my time working with NASA is spent bitching that I know more than they do. The other 1% of my time is spent trembling, pissing myself, realizing I might actually be right. Now is one of those latter times. Houston should know everything wrong with my beacon, especially the fact that it is no longer doing the beacon-like things beacons are built for.
Instead, I've got someone sipping tepid coffee down in the land of women and pizza checking his readouts and telling me there's nothing amiss. When I goddamn know something is amiss.

This is a rather emotional story of a war veteran with PTSD, that avoids being depressing thanks to the guy’s sarcasm, and some well-timed comic relief provided by uninvited guests, an alien pet and a rock. Yes, a rock. That part was hilarious. And sad.

It’s a profound story with great characterization and many thoughts about war and loneliness and hurt and healing. A story with a main protagonist on the brink of madness. And also with the occasional funny moment that manages to lift the mood.

Fucking NASA. In a horror movie, when everyone is hugging their shins and shouting for the main character to turn and run, or crawl under the bed, or call the cops, or grab a gun, NASA would be the dude in the back shouting, “Go see what made that noise! And take a flashlight!

It's a bit like the more serious brother of The Martian.

There are a few problems with it as well. First of all, this was originally published as five separate stories. And it shows when at the beginning of each story Howey briefly recaps some events that only happened a couple of pages prior if you happen to read this in its novel form. But more importantly the ending. There’s some pretty heavy stuff happening there, and it comes a little too abruptly and is done with rather quickly as well. This part should have been longer.

Apart from that I’m totally happy with this book. Even though it is not a happy book.

In deep space, no one can hear you sob.

4 – 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,036 reviews672 followers
September 6, 2016
'Look at all that nothingness. Can you feel it looking back?'

A man by the name of Digger is the solitary watchman of Beacon 23, stationed in space. Beat with him as he copes with the isolation. We know he suffers from PTSD as a result of his time as a soldier in the war against a race of aliens known as the Ryph. Is he slowly losing his sanity as well?

I've read The Martian and now I've read Beacon 23. I do not intend to be without duct tape or WD-40 ever again.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,978 followers
November 30, 2015
There's a lot of good things I can say about this collection of 5 stories that happen to make up one complete novel and one fairly heavy personal annoyance.

First, the good, and even a bit of the great.

It's emotional. Being a spaceways lighthouse keeper may seem like a thankless job, but strong characterization carries it off seamlessly. The poor guy starts off being the wounded war hero, but he fairly quickly descends into some rather crazy shit. It has a bit of The Martian feel without any lengthy science or the immense pathos, instead relying almost entirely on personal feelings and regular PTSD self-therapy. I thought it was quite well done, and the introduction of a rock and some bounty-hunters provided very nice comedy relief. I was quite amused.

When it gets a bit deeper with a bit of healing, I was moved and made to believe that a great deal of soul-searching and tears must have been dredged from the author. It got me in the feels.

And then it got deeper into the discussion of war. No real problems there until late, and then I get to my gripe.

I liked how personal and oddball and emotional these sections were.
But then when we got to the point where a spoiler alert is necessary...

...then I just want to mourn the move from a good character study into a gimmick-grab.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe the

Maybe I just didn't like the direction it finally took.

Sill, I think that just leaving the last short story out might have been a primo bueno move. I would have been left with something thoughtful that has a lot to say about war vets, personal culpability, healing, and perhaps a bit of madness, too. The setting would have been just a fun-as-hell gravy. :)

Howey is a pretty fine author. He has very fine sense when it comes to weaving a tale. My few quibbles shouldn't crap on the solidity of the full tale, I'm sure. He does like to surprise and twist his readers, and this does qualify. :)
Profile Image for Efka.
454 reviews253 followers
December 2, 2015
I am speechless. When I picked up this book, I was expecting a usual good old sci-fi. You know, deep space, fixing things, flying starships, well, the usual stuff. Even the first part of five did nothing to change my mind. On the contrary, I read it, and my thoughts were Oh wow, it's like "The Martian" meets "Gravity". How cool is that?!. Indeed that would be very cool. But it has nothing to do with "Beacon 23".

You see, this book is sort of a diary of an anti-hero. It is a confession of a war hero - and a coward. It is a story of a simple utility man, working at a beacon - a sort of space lighthouse, and a story of a broken man, suffering from PTSD. It is his recollections of war, and it is a story of searching for a peace of mind, learning to let it go, to heal, to start loving again. And it is a story of a tough decision. So tough, so crucial, that it will make you shudder just to think about it. It is a story of great burden of responsibility and consequences of his decisions.

This book has it all - it is well written, it is a sci-fi, full of philosophy, psychology, good humor, strong and well developed character, great story and very, very unexpected but neatly done ending. Damn, it has even the most bizarre and at the same time adorable pet I ever encountered in a book.

Had I read this book just a few weeks earlier, I would definitely voted for it in GR awards. It's a 5* material without a single doubt. A wonderful book!
Profile Image for Mike.
483 reviews376 followers
April 1, 2016
Every morning is an afterlife. Every evening, I die anew in the trenches amid nightmares of artillery finding their target. To wake each morning is a surprise. To rise a miracle. To breath another breath some gift foisted upon me and beyond my control."
The narrator (whose name we never learn) of this fine collection of short stories is seriously damaged. A decorated war hero from a seemingly endless intergalactic conflict, he has been reassigned to be the sole custodian of one of the many beacons that allow for faster than light travel. But this isn't a story about war, instead it is a story about what war does to a person, even one lauded as a hero.
This is the thing about being a hero: It's all about when you get your picture taken. I'll be a hero for the rest of my life, I suppose. So long as I spend it in here with the door shut, hugging my knees, and staying away from any more cameras.
This is a very introspective story, which makes sense since most of the time he is alone in his beacon contemplating life, his past, and the nature of the universe. It is clear from his line of thinking and observations that he holds a very cynical outlook on life based on his experiences.
But it's more than the deaths I saw; it's the destruction. The noise with which we go seems to make it count for more. I think my buddies who checked out via hand grenade versus those who dies from MRSA back in the VA. We barely notice the latter. They're statistics. Go quietly, and you're a number. Go in spectacular fashion, and you're a name.
Thankfully this book isn't all doom and gloom. In a way he is a bit like Mark Watney from The Martian, trying to keep things light because occasionally you need to laugh to keep from crying:
A bit of a derail here to say what a huge fan I was of Urban Ninja Detroit growing up. All I ever wanted to be was an urban ninja. My parents got me a costume for Halloween when I was seven of eight, and I kept wearing that getup until the split-toe shoes would barely squeeze onto my feet and the pants rode up above my calves. Because of me, everything in my neighborhood was peppered with holes from throwing stars and blowdarts. Hell, I probably joined the military instead of going to college because of the overdeveloped sense of honor that damn show gave me. I'll also say here that I like to pretend Urban Ninja L.A. never existed. Urban Ninja Chicago wasn't so bad. But I digress.
Howey does a masterful job slowly revealing the narrator's wounds to the reader, slowly drawing the reader into the story and the mind of the narrator. The stories are small and self contained but nicely expand on the character and backstory of the Narrator as well as the universe he resides in. they slowly build up to the climax of the final story which calls on the Narrator to make a monumental, galaxy changing decision. The story, at its core, is about the virtue of pacifism in the tradition of The Forever War. War is something to avoid or survive. There is no glory there, only death, destruction, and the scars that don't always outwardly show themselves. We see the damage war does through the eyes and memories of the Narrator. I was drawn in from the very first and loved every page of this book. It was a welcomed addition to the cannon of contemplative science fiction.

(My only issue is that I thought the epilogue detracted from the ending, but that was pretty inconsequential compared to the entire work)
Profile Image for Steve.
962 reviews94 followers
February 2, 2016
While I enjoy Hugh Howey’s writing, it seems like he's stuck in a rut with his novel-length books and serials. Here’s what I mean:

Wool Omnibus: main character is stuck in a silo all alone, struggling against various external factors and his/her own mental breakdowns
Sand Omnibus: main character is stuck on/in miles of sand, struggling against various external factors and his own mental breakdowns
Beacon 23: main character is stationed in a space beacon all alone, struggling against various external factors and his own mental breakdowns

Howey is a good writer, and he is exceptionally apt at drawing the reader in. In Beacon 23, Digger is relatable, and the story, told in first person, is entertaining for the first 30% or so, as we see a man dealing with severe PTSD and depression. But I lost interest, and never really gained it back. I guess I got tired of hearing how this war hero decided to leave everything and everyone behind, and live the rest of his life alone as a “space lighthouse attendant”. Later, the turns the story takes fell short even more, and the romance didn’t work for me at all.
Profile Image for Monica.
594 reviews622 followers
June 14, 2016
More psychological thriller than space opera, Hugh Howey goes meta. I'm a big fan of Howey after the Silo series. Howey writes about emotions and is also quite philosophical. I'm almost always more interested in people than in gadgets. My favorite type of sci fi novel deals with how people respond/cope/ adjust/feel about the changes in technology, biology, geography, physics, civilization, ecology, astronomy etc. But mostly, I'm interested in how characters deal with their emotional baggage in sci fi settings (and yes all novels should have characters with emotional baggage). Howey pushes all my buttons with this one.

This is a short, fine novel about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) and how frail our sanity is. The main character (unnamed) hero of the war is quite broken. Howey characterizes this very well. He doesn't tell you the guy is losing it, he shows you. Throughout the novel, the character is trying to grasp reality and climb out of a massive hole in his sanity, by himself. His isolation was self imposed. He has resigned himself to being crazy and living out the rest of his days on a deep space beacon, Howey's futuristic vision of a deep space lighthouse. A series of things happen which the reader doesn't always know if they are really happening or in the imagination of the attendant. This was in some ways similar to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie "Total Recall" in that the ending is so oblique, we don't know if the main character imagined it or if it really happened. Howey explores a tremendous gamut of emotions and feelings and philosophies like depression, PSTD, nature of the enemy, nature of mankind, war, love, lust, empathy. It really is a deep book. The reason for only 4 stars has more to do with the subject matter and the fact that this theme has been done before...many times. It's a great book that I think accomplished everything Howey intended to do and say- - and did so in a smart and thoughtful way. I will be thinking about it for a long while. I think I will pick up almost anything that Howey writes. His science doesn't always make sense, but he is a very open, honest and soulful author. I love Howey's heart and his spirit (well, what I can glean of it from his writing. I fully acknowledge that it's a strange thing to say about a sci fi writer).

4 stars
Profile Image for James Joyce.
263 reviews33 followers
April 23, 2017
So now I'm a fan of Hugh Howey.

War, peace, politics, and questioning your own mental stability.

Are you crazy if you talk to a rock? If you name it? Sure, you might think of Tom Hanks and Wilson... but Wilson didn't talk back. Wilson didn't insult Tom. And Tom never suspected that Wilson was smarter than him. Then again, maybe the rock really isn't a rock. Maybe people and events are(n't) happening?

A galactic war that spans into the past and threatens to end the future, for more than one space-faring species.

And (aside from the occasional, brief, memory) it all takes place in a tin can in space. A small, cramped, beacon that facilitates FTL travel across the galaxy.

Beautifully written (much more beautifully than this crappy review) and insightful. It made me think of The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman.

Now I have to read the rest of his stuff. Cool.
Profile Image for Phil.
1,625 reviews104 followers
October 7, 2021
After reading the Wool Omnibus and the two others of the series (prequel and sequel) and liking them a lot, I was looking forward to more by Howey; unfortunately, Beacon 23 was a massive let down. The story is set in the somewhat distant future, with humanity warring with several alien species. Our main protagonist is a war vet, terribly wounded physically and mentally, and now stationed on Beacon 23-- a 'gravity wave' station in a remote part of space that warns hyperspace ships of the massive asteroid belt located near by. Our main character chose this as he just wants to be alone, and this is about as alone as you can get.

The book, like Wool, is basically several short stories thematically linked. We learn about his war exploits as the text progresses, and his serenity is disturbed repeated, however, by several visitors. First, some pirates somehow shut down the beacon to induce an ore freighter to crash; then, some bounty hunters arrive, and then a new beacon is sent as a back up, and along with it another war vet, this time a woman. So, we get a cheesy love affair, a not so subtle beating that war is never the answer, and some trite musings on the human condition. If this was Howey's first novel, he would have had to keep his day job. Hard to believe it is the same author who wrote Wool and such. 1.5 stars, rounding up as a managed to finish it (it was a close call between that and a DNF, however)!
Profile Image for Ron.
388 reviews89 followers
October 4, 2016
It’s the little tangents and connections that make Howey’s writing special to me. For instance, here in Beacon 23 our protagonist, who mans a “lighthouse in space”, studies his favorite picture pasted on wall above a porthole. This picture depicts a keeper standing before a lighthouse (the kind we are all familiar with here on earth), and behind him, a massive wave looms that will certainly wipe the building and the man right out existence. I couldn’t help but wonder if this picture hinted at what’s to come next.

A Spaceman. I’ve thought about this, and quickly came to the conclusion that I would not make it as an astronaut. Me: “The toilet is what?, and ‘Hello, my helmet is fogging up!” NASA: “We never asked you Ron – you pansy”. Therefore, I’m the occasional couch astronaut drawn to the “live by the seat of your pants” aspect of a man alone in space. Some of the book was like that, but I will not put in the Mark Watney realm. That’s probably an unfair judgment, and not at all what Howey was going for. Beacon 23 consists of 5 parts, originally issued as a serial, and that’s pretty much how it reads. Although the story was continuous, each part had a different feel, and separate aspect to it. The 5 pieces did fit together, but the end game is not realized until the final piece is in place. And that end game is? Ideological and political. The author had something to say here which is relevant to humans now and in the future. I was okay with that. The story may not have had everything I expected, but it did have these things: humor, some nail-biting moments, and a pretty good love story. Yeah, I didn’t see that coming either. Sometimes the unforeseen becomes the best part of a book.

So I didn’t say much about the plot or the characters. I think that’s how this one should go.
Profile Image for WarpDrive.
272 reviews388 followers
September 19, 2016
Another nice book by the author of Wool Omnibus.
Interesting character development with peculiar and original elements, a wicked sense of humor, an overall nice read. Recommended. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Mal Warwick.
Author 29 books403 followers
April 6, 2017
I finally figured it out. Earlier in life, when I devoured science fiction by the carload, I paid little attention to details such as references to contemporary culture, products, or figures of speech. I’d suspended disbelief, of course. Now these things jump out at me. They grate. And I found myself on edge at a number of points in Hugh Howey’s Beacon 23 because it was too much of a stretch to believe that characters in the late twenty-third century would talk like people in 2015 or that products such as WD-40 (the iconic all-purpose household lubricant) would show up in the narrative. But now I’ve got it! What’s going on, really, is not that the author is attempting to write a story that we will believe is “true.” Instead, he’s relating a long, complex dream that could easily incorporate elements that are extremely unlikely to be found together. You’ve dreamed dreams like that, right?

So, tell me, Hugh: is this the way I should look on your work? I’ll say that I enjoy your writing very much — your humor, your lively imagination, your skill in laying out a plot. I was alternately amused and intrigued as I read through Beacon 23. I enjoyed your battle-scarred, empathic anti-hero and the odd characters who came on the scene with him. I found the many references to aliens imaginative to the point of implausibility, but they were certainly entertaining. I imagine you had a lot of fun writing this novel. I hope so, anyway.

Beacon 23 is a novel that first appeared online as five Amazon singles, assembled only later into the Omnibus Edition. Very clever, that. Probably very profitable, too.

Hugh Howey is one of the crop of the younger generation of science fiction writers who has found success in the newly fractured publishing environment. He favors writing in chunks. Howey’s breakthrough was the five-part dystopian novel, Wool, followed by a three-part prequel entitled Shift. I’ve recently read and reviewed both books. I loved them both. This guy is good!
Profile Image for Kara.
655 reviews318 followers
January 15, 2016
I would've enjoyed this a tad more without the epilogue.

Think of it like a combination of The Martian and Ender's Game. I appreciated the examination of isolation and what it does to a person's mental state, and I liked the big questions the book tried to answer.

It wasn't, though, my favorite of Howey's work, and it wrapped up too neatly for my taste.
Profile Image for Lười.
12 reviews6 followers
April 4, 2017
Sau tất cả những day dứt, dằn vặt, sự ám ảnh của cuộc chiến đối với người cựu binh thì cái kết đã làm dịu đi tâm hồn mình rất nhiều.
Lí do cho cuốn sách này 5⭐ :" Ra đi trong im lặng, anh trở thành con số. Ra đi đầy ngoạn mục, anh trở thành tên tuổi."
Profile Image for Timothy Ward.
Author 14 books121 followers
February 20, 2016
4.5/5 Stars

Beacon 23 was a treat I didn't expect. The character engagement and surprises were on par with what I've loved about Hugh's work, even if I'd still rate this below Sand and Wool in terms of favorites. The story centers on a soldier suffering from PTSD. After being given a hero's honor, he chose a new post on the edge of his galaxy, isolated from people and humanity he isn't sure he knows how to interact with anymore. Hugh did a great job keeping me unaware of the story's final destination and poses a significant question about life and war that has kept me thinking for the last month since I finished. The challenge of reviewing without spoiling plot points will force me to leave my review at this: Beacon 23 is a strong new addition to Hugh's catalogue of heartfelt, society challenging scifi.
Profile Image for Stephen.
443 reviews52 followers
October 7, 2021
Howey is a great writer but this is far from par. Beacon 23 is too much like the worst of George Lucas's Star Wars serial. Short disconnected stories featuring a whiny hero, a strong female who "saves" him from being a complete wimp, a few interesting side characters, ultimately leading to a unfulfilling end. The Robinson Crusoe pet rock homage was especially weak, bring to mind the tragedy that is Jar Jar Binks. Skip this one and read Howey's Wool instead.
Profile Image for Milliebot.
810 reviews23 followers
January 23, 2018
Lol forgot to add my review here from 2016:

I was drawn to this book by the cover and my love for Howey’s Wool series, and after only six months I finally picked it up! Hey, if you know me at all, six months is really nothing in comparison to how long some books have sat, unread (but not unloved!), upon my crowded shelves. I’m glad I picked this up because while fairly short, Beacon 23 provides an interesting look at the isolation or space and the mental and physical aftereffects of serving in a war, be it against aliens or humans.

Our hero (he is actually considered a war hero) remains nameless throughout the story and I almost didn’t notice until the very end when I was starting to think about what I would write in my view and realized I didn’t know the protagonist’s name. I think this was the right choice (mostly, because I didn’t pick up on it, so obviously our character’s name is not critical to his story) because it highlights the fact that, regardless of who one is, they can experience the same or similar emotions after having survived a war. This man in a beacon on the edge of a far-off sector of space, fighting against depression and insanity, striving to be alone with his guilt, regrets and fears, yet still craving what little human contact he can get, could be anyone. It’s not his name that matters, but what he experiences throughout the book.

Boy, does he go through a lot! Despite the vastness of space, beacon 23 sees quite a bit of action and our hero narrates his experiences with a healthy dose of sarcasm and cynicism, but also remains honest about what he feels in regards to his actions in the war and how they have affected him. There are times when his view is unreliable, but not because he wants to deceive the reader, but because the lines between reality and fiction have begun to blur for him. One particular scene had me questioning everything he experienced thereafter and I enjoyed the effect of always being on alert and trying to figure out what was actually happening to him.

I especially enjoyed how open our hero is with his emotions. There is a lot of crying in this book and that’s not something I come across often with male protagonists (and it’s not really something I’m desperate for, but considering the subject matter of this book, I felt it was appropriate). Our hero’s views on emotion (in males or females) in times of war and crisis were raw and honest.

The ending was a little too neat and also left me with a few questions, but didn’t lead me to believe there will be any follow-up to this novel, so I’ll be left wondering. However, this was a solid read that I found hard to put down. Great for sci-fi fans, without it being too heavy on the science (ie: just enough jargon for me to feel like Howey knows what he’s talking about, though I can’t prove it).
Profile Image for Christopher.
354 reviews47 followers
February 10, 2017
Ok, the last book from my 'need-to-rate-review' shelf from last summer! And this book I actually remember pretty well, which is stunning.

I won't bore you with lots of words. Here's my take away from this book. It was originally written and released as a serial, so think of it that way still, regardless of what form you have it in.

As I read each and every one of the five 'episodes' (or whatever he calls them), I thought to myself "What is this I am reading? Why is it dragging on? What is the damn point?" Every. Single. One. At the end of each episode, I thought "Oh wow, that was actually good. I'm glad I read that now that I see how it wrapped up." Every. Single. Time.

I'm not totally sure what that says about the stories' quality. Part of me thinks that it means the stories drag too much and don't get on with the important bits to the point I'm over reading them before I get to the end when everything becomes good again. But a lot of the theming in this series is about isolation and how that can drive one insane. Especially combined with extreme guilt. So maybe that's part of the theme being made manifest in how you read it? That sounds super pretentious though, so probably not. ;)

Super duper last page speculation/spoiler:

4 "I actually remember this one so it must be good and I'm removing a star if my speculation is wrong" stars.
Profile Image for Quỳnh.
258 reviews133 followers
July 7, 2021
Đây là cuốn tiểu thuyết xoay quanh một thanh niên bị sang chấn tâm lý sau khi tham chiến. Ngay khi được phong tặng danh hiệu anh hùng chiến tranh, anh liền xin giải ngũ để ra gác hải đăng ở một chốn hẻo lánh. Ngờ đâu cuộc chiến mà anh ngỡ đã bỏ lại phía xa vẫn tiếp tục bám theo anh đến tận nơi trú ẩn mới. Pha chút khoa học viễn tưởng vào cốt truyện trên (đặt ngọn hải đăng ở một xó thiên hà để dẫn đường cho tàu vũ trụ, mở rộng quy mô cuộc chiến lên chiến tranh liên hành tinh,...) ta có Trạm tín hiệu số 23. Tuy vậy, các yếu tố công nghệ khoa học khá nhẹ nhàng và không ảnh hưởng nhiều đến cốt truyện.

Phải nói là Hugh Howey viết Trạm tín hiệu số 23 rất khéo, ông biết cách cân bằng các yếu tố tâm lý-hành động, tình yêu-chiến tranh, thế giới quan của nhân vật chính-thế giới bên ngoài, buồn thảm-hài hước,... Chúng đan xen nhau qua các chương và được điều hòa hợp lý để không ngả quá về một phía. Mới chương trước, ta còn bị tác giả xát nguyên một củ hành tây vô mắt thì sang chương sau đã bị thọc lét vào mạn sườn. Ở đầu chương, nhân vật chính còn đang ngồi tự kỷ gặm nhấm nỗi đau thì đến giữa chương, anh n��y đã phải cầm súng tham gia các phân cảnh hành động kịch tính. Nhìn chung, Trạm tín hiệu số 23 giống một cái bánh hamburger đầy đặn với các lớp rau diếp, thịt xay, phô mai và xốt, rất thích hợp với đại chúng (Mình đồ rằng vì thế mà Bookism chọn cuốn này để xuất bản ở Việt Nam - nơi độc giả trẻ hãy còn lạ lẫm với thể loại Sci-fic.)

P/s: Thực ra, mình nghĩ tác giả để kết mở sẽ hay hơn, nhưng làm vậy thì mất dạy quá.
Profile Image for T O À N P H A N.
436 reviews586 followers
December 21, 2019
Tui chỉ thích những phần lảm nhảm về cô đơn và dằn vặt quá khứ, rặt một bầu trời tự kỷ thú vị (cộng thêm con Cricket). Còn lại những Scarlett, Claire, hải tặc, chiến tranh, Ryph,... tui thấy nhàm và tạp nham.
Profile Image for Ian.
390 reviews67 followers
January 5, 2020

Superior space opera, about a scarred war hero manning a backwater beacon while wrestling with his demons. The plotting of this short novel is well above average, with clever self references, double backs and other riffs that give it a literate, intelligent feel well above the usual cut of military sci-fi/ space adventure.

The level of suspension of disbelief required is modest, about the same for your average episode of Star Trek. Howey had me buying into talking rocks and space pirates without batting an eye. He's good. I could have done without the moral tag epilogue, which laid it on a bit thick, imho. I would have preferred the ambiguity at the end of the last chapter but most people want a happy ending, I guess.

I'm relatively new to the Kindle, ebook thing and I found this way of marketing an author interesting. The book was originally a series of interconnected episodes, sold separately online, then brought together ("Only 4 cents more and you save 4 clicks," as the author explains). As a card carrying Luddite I'm not sure I approve (although I'm well aware this is now the way of the world, thank you).

Although, back in my golden age (12) of science fiction new writers were introduced via the science fiction magazines (Galaxy, Analog etc), with stories often serialized, which we paid for monthly. Is the selling of original short stories and novellas on line any different? The one obvious difference is the magazine stories had to make it past gimlet eyed editors. I'm not sure what the filtering process is at Amazon, but just by the number of complaints on Goodreads about punctuation, spelling and grammar it seems to leave something to be desired. I'm not so worried about that as I am about the proliferation of bad writing and boring stories, diluting the gene pool (genre pool?) of science fiction. I'm all for people making a living ("Wannabe a paperback writer") but sometimes, less really is more, imho.

Happily, Howey is the real deal and so the meathod of the distribution of his work is irrelevant. Highly recommended and I look forward to reading more of this author.
Profile Image for Holly.
111 reviews57 followers
March 23, 2016
I really wanted to love this as much as I loved Wool and Shift, but unfortnately something was slightly missing. Maybe it just didn't have the depth of Wool that I loved. But nevertheless, Howey writes so deeply that it's hard to put down. Thrust into the lonely world of Beacon 23, Howey writes a convincing tale of a soldier turned beacon-keeper in a futuristic time.

I think what's most different about Beacon 23 is it's pace. We have a man alone in what is essentially a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere. For the first two parts, I struggled to get into the groove of the plot. It's a slow start, but it's representative of what the unnamed narrator must be feeling when he won't see another soul for months... At first, it's quite jarring, but once you get more into the novel, the plot starts picking up and it flies by.

Once you get past the uneven narrative, you really get thrust into the character of the beacon-master. A soldier suffering from some sort of PTSD, we get flashbacks that help set the backdrop of the current society: Earth's colonies riddled with war against an alien race. As the book continues, I really connected the narrator with the character of Ender at the end of Ender's Game and throughout Speaker for the Dead. Raising the question of how war affects us and what we'd sacrifice for peace, the beacon-master is a complex character, that really makes the book.

Overall, I wasn't blown away, but Howey definitely writes well and knows how to form deep and complex characters. If you liked Wool, you'll definitely like this, but don't expect an as well developed society as we find in Wool. Instead, Howey leans towards questions of self-value and how we view ourselves. Can't wait for more books by the author that's taken the sci-fi world by storm!
Profile Image for Sonja Arlow.
1,081 reviews7 followers
January 8, 2016
Like Wool, this book was released in the form of a series of short novellas. And to be honest I probably would have dropped the story after the 2nd novella if I didn’t read this as the complete novel.

You may need to exercise a little patience with this book. The first 30% felt quite gloomy and a mix between Gravity and The Martian (the bits I did not like)

The protagonist is a veteran army soldier and suffers from extreme PTSD. After being released from military duty he tried to get a post as far away as possible from any human contact. So he was assigned as a maintenance man on Beacon 23.

This is far into the future where space travel is as common as air flight is for us today. So these beacons serve as lighthouses in hyper space. So initially the narration is all in his head with all the post-war issues such as guilt and depression surfacing and crowding out any chance to learn more about the world this novel is set in. Which is a pity as this author is normally brilliant with world building.

That is until 3 bounty hunter ships show up and with them breathes life into the story. I particularly liked Cricked which is a space pet that is catlike in its appearance but which has an empathic connection with its owner.

Although the novel didn’t completely blow me away I want to acknowledge the importance of the deeper question this story wants us to contemplate about ourselves and how we handle hardship

Would I recommend this? It’s a hard book to recommend because it has a strong sci-fi element coupled with an almost existential overarching theme making it a bit of an odd duck for me.
Profile Image for Paperback Mo.
270 reviews82 followers
January 4, 2016
Really didn't enjoy this. Disappointed.
The blurb had me hooked, but I feel so let down.
Profile Image for April Sarah.
541 reviews171 followers
June 11, 2016
Howey does this to me every single time I pick up one of his stories. I get attached. I get confused. I become broken. This story is no different. The journey of this story hurts.
Profile Image for Charles.
499 reviews89 followers
February 4, 2021
Cheeky, parody of a space war, space opera.

My audio edition was 6 hours long. A dead tree copy would be about 250 pages. The original US copyright was 2015.

This is the first book I have read by the author. He’s better known for his Silo Series, which starts with the popular book Wool .

Firstly, I listened to the omnibus edition. The five (5) parts of this book were separately published in a serialized form.

Using the paradigm of a PTSD afflicted, war hero, ‘space’ lighthouse keeper; a lonely man tests his sanity, finds companionship, true love and saves the galaxy.

Firstly, I always find unnamed protagonists to be funny. The best part of this story was the unnamed, protagonist’s inner dialog. It was flip. This created a constant level-of-amusement. Otherwise, dialog and descriptive prose were good. Plotting was rather obvious and rambling. I suppose that goes with the parody territory?

I did have several problem with the stories. There were indications that Howley didn’t know where the story was going when he started it. That introduced continuity problems. For example, the key plot device of the protagonist’s ability to get comfortably numb on the beacon’s emanations was a known benefit of the job. It was humorously described by him in “NASA Beacon Keeper Boot Camp”, but becomes a miraculous super power in the last story section. World building required a significant suspension of belief. The base world building was a 23rd Century Standard Sci-Fi Setting. (I detest the literary sloth of this trope.) However, that was dropped and picked-up several times at the author’s convenience. The protagonist’s lighthouse and daily life were more closely modeled after the ISS, but with anti-gravity, NASA and all.

So, this was not a great work. It was what I call a CHEETOS® read. I was: cheesy, light and airy. I saw where it was going by the second section. It did have some amusing dialog. Unfortunately, having read this first, I’m hesitant to read the author’s magnum opus WOOL. I’m having a little trouble relating the two? On the basis of this book, I likely won’t be reading any more by the author.
Profile Image for Overbooked  ✎.
1,496 reviews
August 12, 2016
Humans are engaged in a lengthy war with an alien race. While stationed at one of the space beacons (that ensure safe spaceships traffic), a veteran encounters some unlikely hardware malfunctions and bizarre visitors to his lonely outpost. Could these incidents be the results of PTSD or is the beacon messing up with his mind?
Before long, he will need to make decision with far reaching consequences, would he choose treason to end the war? or is he insane?

I like sci-fi but it is difficult for me to find a book that knocks my socks off, this one did!
After the partial disappointment of Shift earlier this year, Hugh Howey is back in my good books, I enjoyed Beacon 23 as much as I did Wool Omnibus. Loved the audio version by Ryan McCarthy too, terrific narration!
Highly recommended to sci-fi fans. 4.5 stars

Favourite quote:

The dangerous phase is when that’s happening and you can’t see it. When you think you’re sane, so the crazy is all invisible. The reason I wear a rock around my neck is to be reminded of my propensity to lose my grip on reality. Rocky hasn’t uttered a peep in a while. I’m getting better, I swear.
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