Wool 3: Casting Off – Hugh Howey

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Wool #3

The newly-appointed sheriff of a long-term nuclear shelter tries to learn her job while the number of suspicious events mounts around her.

I enjoyed the first two stories in this trilogy, but wasn’t really bowled over. Here, Howey kicks the plot into higher gear, and left me interested in reading more, despite my earlier scepticism. None of the plotting (and there is plotting, with a side of conspiracy) is really surprising, but Howey handles it deftly.

Howey has a tendency to take a nice metaphor and drive it into the ground. While this has worked well for K J Parker, who drives her metaphor right down to bedrock and beyond, Howey doesn’t have quite the same commitment or (in a short story) the space, and the effect is less successful. It’s unfortunate, because in some other places (such as the ending here), he assumes a certain intelligence in his reader. I couldn’t say that subtlety is a strong point, but some things don’t get underlined when they don’t need it.

All in all, a good story, and a satisfying cap to the trilogy, as well as a mild goad to get the next piece. I had anticipated stopping with this story, but there are enough enticements offered that I think I may well get the next batch of stories (as an omnibus).

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