Matthew Bin is an author and IT consultant from Oakville, Ontario. He is the past president of the Canadian Authors Association and secretary of the Canadian Copyright Institute. He is also a Canadian football journalist, a licensed humanist marriage officiant, and bass player and backup shouter in a punk rock band.

Brendan’s Way by Matthew Bin

It was like winning the lottery when Brendan Collins was approached with an offer he couldn't refuse: a fresh life on Ellis—the new home world, they were calling it—with a generous plot of land and everything he would need to build a prosperous existence. Life far away from his drunken father and their miserable farm was sweet enough but, more, he was to travel in the company of a beautiful red-head, posing as her husband.

It all seemed too good to be true.

Before long, Brendan finds himself involved in events that made his protest marches with the Farmer's Collective seem like a walk in the park. His so-called wife, Neala, treats him like dirt while she pursues a mission that grows more dangerous by the day. Now, he is asked to choose between the promises he had made and the betrayal of everything he had come to believe.

And whichever way he follows, it is likely to end in death.



  • "This is one of those books that you experience rather than read; the environment it creates is so real and immersive. The beginning is very subtle, but before I knew it, the story had pulled me in like a vast ocean of quicksand. I couldn't stop thinking about it or put it down when I had a chance to read. Highly recommended."

    – Amazon 5-star review
  • "'Brendan's Way' is a true page-turner Science Fiction novel. From the moment that the main character, Brendan, boards the Imram to begin his three-month journey to a new world, his every moment is filled with confusion and novelty. As he explores the bustling market, the corridors of the Ring, and the confines of his curtained cubicle, he meets a legion of unusual characters, all travelling in the bowels of the ship, a modern-day vision of steerage on the epic ocean liners of the past."

    – Goodreads 5-star review



I had wanted to see the ship before we boarded; it wasn't as though I got on a colonial cruiser every week. It was apparently not to be. I had no view of the huge round hull of the Imram, my home for the next three months, but instead trudged past an unending series of square metal panels that lined the long, grey tunnel.

The trunk I was carrying was a good weight, and it was a struggle to keep my end of the trunk low so as not to make the other end heavier. At the other end, having no trouble at all, was my wife Neala. Tall, strong, confident. Great legs. I tried to ignore those legs, or what portion of them I could see, as they worked steadily in front of me. Paying attention to things like that wouldn't make this trip any easier.

When we'd first met, an hour or so beforehand, she was curt and businesslike. She embraced me as coldly as a tree branch, and from then on we had barely touched. When our names were called in the departure bay, she patted my arm tenderly as she leapt up to take one end of the trunk we were travelling with, but then stood waiting with furrowed brow and thinned lips until I took my place at the other end; then she lifted her handgrip and I was left scrambling to keep up with her.

It wasn't such a bad arrangement, I decided, as I laboured to maintain her pace. It would have been a lot harder if she'd wanted to play the affectionate couple; I would have been learning on the job. Not that I would have objected. There was something about her, not quite good-looking but more interesting than the girls I knew back home. Her shoulder-length crimson hair was let loose, but remained straight and neat, not tied into a quick ponytail like the farming girls in the village. Her face—I hadn't had much time to study it but I remembered it well enough—wasn't unattractive, but a bit harsh and angular. You couldn't make assumptions about people based on their faces, but severe was the word for her face, and it seemed to be the word for her all in all.

We reached a junction and without hesitation Neala turned left, following the series of blinking lights embedded in the metal floor. Soon she turned through a doorway with no door, marked DORM 2L in black paint above. She led us across the room through some narrow corridors of dark red curtains that stretched about three metres high, and threw back the heavy cover on what she somehow seemed to know was our assigned cubicle.

Once we were inside, she dropped her end of the trunk and I did the same; she turned to face me.

"So. Brendan." Her voice was warm but her face was drawn and grim.

"Neala," I answered. I did my best to make it seem like I did this sort of thing all the time.

"I expect we should unpack our things, my love," she said, but frowned noticeably as she flipped the lid of the trunk open.

I peered inside. Two stacks of clothing stuffed right to the top of the trunk, one for me, one for her. A case of personals. A towel each. Whoever had packed this—I certainly hadn't—used the small space in the trunk well. Other than this, my only possessions were a small handful of argent—even on a colonial cruiser, surely a bit of silver would come in handy—and a couple of books that I'd stuffed in my pocket before I left home. I didn't know if I was even allowed to bring these, but I didn't ask and no one told me otherwise.

She set about transferring the clothing to the bank of drawers in the one solid wall of the cubicle. This glorious four-by-four metres was ours, it seemed. The wall with the drawers also had two stools and a tabletop that folded out of the wall, and a few storage lockers each about the size of a loaf of bread. The other three sides of the cubicle were formed by thick curtains, made of heavy red cloth, bolted to the floor and at the top to a three-metre-high frame above us. No ceiling, probably so that they could use the same bright lights for everyone. I had hoped that a cruiser would have slightly less Spartan rooms; I was actually disappointed. For accommodations like this I might as well have stayed on the farm.

Gazing around the room, I was startled to discover Neala facing me, one hand on her hip, the same deep frown creasing her face. "Your drawers are that side," she said.

"I was getting acquainted with our new home," I said. "No rush to get settled in, is there?"

It was an innocent observation, but her lips tightened yet further—then she seemed to relax a bit. "Not much to look at, I suppose."

"I guess we'd better get used to it."


I started putting my clothing into the drawers, feeling that this was going to be a long trip, trying to figure out constantly whether this woman was actually annoyed at me. She certainly sounded the part of the loving and dutiful wife, but the look on her face rarely matched the sentiment.

Neala picked up a card from the shelf and read. "Rations 1200 hours at the ration point. Ablutions cubicle 2L-23, em—male, I suppose that's you—Third Day 1800 hours, female, Sixth Day—oh god, 2300 hours." She shook her head. "Wonderful."

"You could ask to get it changed."

"Even if I could—" she started, then set her bottom lip in a sort of defiant pout. "Obviously, I'm not going to do that."

She was right: she would needlessly call attention to herself that way. "Anyway, it's not like we're going to be asked to dine at the captain's table or anything."


The imperious way she said it got right into me, and made me feel like I was arguing with my little brother. "Who knows? I might meet the captain's daughter in the common room, strike up a conversation, turn on the charm—"

"There's no captain's table, imbecile. We'll never see the crew. This is a privateer vessel. It's ex-military. There'll be security guards, I expect, but that's different."

"Oh yes, Owen showed me the backgrounder. LST-91 Imram, best dropship in the war. But surely there'll be people—"

She began talking like I hadn't said a thing. "They set the mass drive on earth and hurl it at the target, like a stone from a slingshot. These ships are programmed to hit their destination. There's little flying to be done until we get near Ellis and have to land. Why do you think the privateers are allowing passage at all? It's their tithe. They get the spoils of war, the government makes them run some errands here and there, like flying colonial routes. And—" Her voice caught momentarily. "Diplomats."

"Privateers," I said. "I've heard the term but I don't know what it means."

"It's an ancient term—but basically it's private contractors operating government-owned ships. Squeezing us for every penny, on behalf of our benevolent government."

Things were getting heavy awfully quickly—all I'd done was comment on the shower schedule. "Well, anyhow, I'm sure we'll both be fine with whatever level of cleanliness we can maintain."

She made no reply, and I cast about for something to do other than argue with her. I sat on the bed and pressed my hands onto the mattress. "This isn't so bad."

"Hard as a rock," she sniffed, and busied herself in her personals.

"And we've got plenty of storage space."

"Because they only allow seven kilos of baggage each."

I threw up my hands. I was trying to be nice, trying to keep up the illusion, but she was simply beyond my capacity. "I don't know what pleasure cruise you thought you were signing up for here, but you're not making this—"

"Enough," she snapped.

"Well—" I started again.

"Shut up," she hissed. She glanced over at the curtain we had come through, and then continued in a whisper. "You and I both have our little parts to play here. But I'm not going to sit here and allow you to play the fool. I'm—"

"This is nice," I said in a cheery tone. "Our first tiff. I can't wait till the day I tell the grandchildren."

Her face twisted into an angry sneer. A joke was a joke but obviously I'd taken it a little too far. "Listen," I said before she could say more, and got up from the bed. "I'm going to go for a walk and take a look at our surroundings. I'll be back in a bit."

She turned her scowl back down to her little bag of personal items without another word, and I pushed the curtain aside and took my leave.