Book Review: 1NG4

This was me taking a chance on a book gotten on a Free Book weekend. The book was short enough, though, that I wanted to go ahead and share it with y’all rather than hold back!

The Book

Author: Berthold Gambrel
Amazon Link

I found Berthold Gambrel’s website through Peter Martenuac’s website. He writes extremely thoughtful reviews (including one of my own free book, American Chimera, which simultaneously makes me feel nervous and very proud), and I thought someone with such detailed thoughts and good writing skills would write a good story.

Non-Spoiler Review

1NG4 was an intriguing story (was it a short? I think it was more of a novella, maybe novelette) with a great setting. While people think that science occurs in its own vacuum, I very much appreciated the way money, politics, and science overlapped in this near-future sci fi short.

Gambrel imagines a unique dystopia in which water has swelled over the shores and the oceans are bigger. There’s new supernational governments (and thus funding sources), and there’s lots of mystery. I’m also very impressed at how quickly he could build an entire world in such a short space.

Also impressive was how he was able to include a full plot alongside the worldbuilding within the space. He was able to feed information smoothly between all the other pieces of information. Before the titular character 1NG4 shows up, we meet a couple of scientists investigating a mysterious object that can generate nearly infinite energy. They’re not told where it’s from, what it’s about, or what they’re really supposed to understand – but they’re doing it, because it’s a job. Like real scientists would.

Twists about what 1NG4 really is, what’s going on, and the alignments of the professors kept the story moving. If you’re looking for a short sci-fi in an interesting and political world, this one is a good option for you.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones


I don’t like giving too many spoilers of indie books, but this one’s two years old now so I’m going to go straight to the part I care about spoiling: messy endings.

Often, I don’t like messy endings. Binti: The Night Masquerade had a horrible messy ending. 1NG4, however, had a messy ending that made sense. Some things just remain a mystery, but Gunnar and Jenny’s story really does wrap up. He leaves room for more to occur within his world, but he essentially finishes. The messy ending, wherein things like 1NG4’s true origins and some information about the energy machine are not explained, still works out well.

If Gambrel chose to write another entry in the series, I’d probably go for it!

Coming Up Soon:

This book was a surprise entry – I’ll continue with D. Wallace Peach’s Liar’s and Thieves on Monday!

4 thoughts on “Book Review: 1NG4

  1. Berthold Gambrel says:

    Thank you again for the review. Endings have always been my weakest point, I think. I try to strike a balance between tying things up neatly and leaving the reader with some mystery to ponder, but I think I generally err on the side of leaving too much unexplained. Glad you still liked it. 🙂

  2. Peter Martuneac says:

    I also liked the open-ish ending. The protag’s story was concluded satisfactorily and things that didn’t necessarily need to be figured out were left a mystery.

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