Buckell professes his love for airships at the beginning of this story, a fitting admission when you take in the title. I have to admit a secret love for the word dirigible here, too, which Buckell uses almost immediately in the story. I think he and Hayao Miyazaki would get along very well, since Miyazaki is also known for imagining the improbable or impossible with flying devices. Aerophilia begins in such an imaginative airship, traveling through the cloudy, gaseous atmosphere of Riley, a planet colonized by humans far in the future.
Vincent is a captive of his own split personality, Vince, as are the crew and passengers of the zeppelin Vince has hijacked. Vince has grown tired of his whiny host, Vincent, and is out to make himself rich. But his plan goes awry when the original Vincent takes over again and calls for help from an old girlfriend, Suzie. But Suzie has plans of her own, and a grudge to vent agains Vincent.
This is a fun little romp that was a quick but entertaining read with an edge. Vincent/Vince is a washed up spacer, but he truly brings to mind an old cowboy trying to go home again, to a place that no longer exists. I was a little turned off by how crazy and bitter Suzie comes off, but I don’t think Vincent comes off too much better so they’re sort of meant for each other.
Mixed in the with the lighthearted banter between Vince and Vincent and the humor of the run in with the law and the old flame, there is the message that things change and the people you once knew change, even if you continue to refuse to. Some day the wrongs you’ve done will come back to you, and we all must atone eventually. Nobody comes out clean.
The twists at the end would make this story worth reading even if the rest of it was blah, which luckily it isn’t. Stay tuned for more installments.