Written by Gary A. Braunbeck
Published by Necessary Evil Press
I have a fear of growing old alone. I think, if they were honest with themselves, most humans would admit to the same fear, though it’s not something a lot of us dwell on for extended periods of time. There are things you can do to prevent eventually ending up old and alone, but dwelling constantly on the thought that you may end up that way is not one of them.
For Martin, however, it’s been in his mind for a long time. After the death of his father and mother a few months apart from each other, he suddenly realizes that he has no reason to continue living. What does one do when one has run out of reasons to keep going? For some suicide is the only viable option, and Martin goes about the planning of his almost professionally, going so far as to consult a how-to manual to make it as quick and fool-proof as possible.
Before he can finish the task, however, he shows up at local mental health facility and is admitted of his own free will. Realizing he didn’t want to die as much as he had once thought, he still has some issues and begins to doubt his sanity when hallucinations from his time under heavy amounts of drugs begin to show up in reality. Soon he is told that not only does his life have meaning, but to one very important person he is the only hope for a peaceful existence in the universe.
Gary A. Braunbeck’s In the Midnith Museum is a novella that promises great things to come from this underrated author. The characters within its scant 138 pages come to life seemingly effortlessly, which is a skill some authors spend 300+ pages (if not multiple books) trying to hone. Because Martin and the staff of the mental hospital he spends the book’s 48 hours within seem so very real, it helps the reader be that much more accepting when Martin begins to learn the truth about his role in the universe.
That leads to another piece of high praise for Museum; the idea at the story’s core is incredibly original (to me at least, some references are made to books like Atlas Shrugged so it may not be 100% so) and gave me a sense of wonder I was not expecting judging by the tone and pacing of the first half of the book. As the truth unfolds, the focus becomes bigger and bigger, and it’s a tribute to Braunbeck’s skills that it does so realistically enough that it doesn’t feel clumsy or forced.
The only real complaint I had was with the end, the final battle as it were, which to me seemed a bit too cliché for all that had come before it; but it certainly wasn’t enough to ruin the overall story or put me off Braunbeck’s writing. Indeed, I can’t wait to get my hands on more of it, hopefully in full-length novel format, as soon as possible
In the Midnight Museum is available as a limited edition hardcover novella through Necessary Evil Press, so if you’re interested in checking it out, and I highly recommend you do, utilize the link above to purchase it.
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