The Hyacinth Disaster by David Carlson

150 million resource-rich asteroids populate the void between colonized Mars and Jupiter; many more orbit in the gas giant’s vast Lagrange regions.

A dozen supercorporations compete beyond the reach of civilized law, all but warring for the incalculable resources. Beneath them, a thousand contract mining crews struggle to prosper despite the best efforts of their employers.

Out here, life is harsh and lives are cheap. If one or two vessels fall victim to relentless corporate rivalry, what is that to the company?

The crew of the MRS Corvus has been abducted by a rival supercorporation, and a ransom has been placed on their lives. The Halaesus Mining company is willing to write them off as “vanished” to avoid paying the ransom.

That doesn’t sit well with the crew of the MRS Hyacinth.

The Hyacinth races to survey a promising asteroid, hoping that it contains enough mineral wealth to save the kidnapped crew. Things, uh, don’t go well. If that wasn’t obvious from the name of the show, it’s made clear early in the first episode that the audio is actually the black box recordings recovered from the MRS Hyacinth.

Two things stood out to me in this show: the world and the emotion. Carlson has managed to create an intricate universe that just feels alive. And all of this is accomplished with very little exposition, feeding us one fascinating tidbit of information at a time only as it becomes relevant to the plot. As for the emotion, let’s just say that The Hyacinth Disaster is an excellent argument for the journey outweighing the destination. We know from the start most, if not all, of the characters will be expendable. Even with that in mind, I found myself rooting for them wholeheartedly.

And if you make it through the entire show without tearing up even a little, I hope you’re happy you heartless monster you’re a stronger person than me.

I did have a few issues with the audio quality. That’s not to say that the show was poorly produced, it just made an artistic choice I don’t typically enjoy. While the crew of the Hyacinth vessel is exploring the asteroid, they communicate over a frequently static-filled radio channel. It makes sense for the story, but parts of the story were difficult to understand because I couldn’t hear the characters’ dialogue.

I also think the show could have benefited from a slightly smaller cast of characters. Seven episodes were not enough for me to be invested in every member of the crew. That said, I was very emotionally invested in the characters I did care about.

The Hyacinth Disaster is structured a lot like a found-footage horror film. However, though I’m not often a fan of found-footage films, I was blown away by the ending to this show. It absolutely 100% stuck the landing.

All in all, this was a highly enjoyable mini-series. If David Carlson eventually decides to write something else in this world, I will happily pick it up as soon as it releases.


The Hyacinth Disaster is a free science fiction audio drama available through iTunes or wherever you find podcasts. Find out more on its website,, or try a sample of the first episode right now:

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