a stranger north is a novella and part of a series called the northland chronicles, written by henry olsen. it is set in the future but is reminiscent of the past. it harkens back to frontier days and the wild west, but in fact is set an undetermined number of years from now, in a desolate future where many people have been killed, with the remaining population going about their lives. survival is important, but unlike other books and movies of this sort, it is not the absolute focus of the book.
the book is essentially about the appearance of a man called osborne, who shows up in the minnesota backwoods and whose arrival sets in place a chain of events. he is overall a well-drawn and mysterious figure, yet like the rest of the book, osborne is not entirely unique and reminds me a little too much for comfort of other sci-fi anti-heroes. likewise, the survivors of the future remind me too much of those throughout the rest of popular culture.
yet the book is quite tight and well-written. as a novella, it is also told at a brisk pace and is easy and enjoyable to get through, particularly with olsen’s excellent dialog. the characters speak naturally, believably, and ultimately they paint a solid picture of a somewhat old story.