Publisher: Del Rey
Publishing Date: August 2013
Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Publishers description: In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.
Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.
Review: This is hard sci fi at its best. You fumble along for a while with Skyler making dumb choices….or none at all, which is just a great human element to the story. Following the characters through the scenes creates a sense of despair and tension not readily found in most novels, regardless of genre.
The author uses the term ‘Jacobites” quite a bit, in an attempt to label a religious cult tied to the alien ladder (Jacobs ladder). He never really delves into the psyche of this cult and besides the pejorative use of the term, there are no new definitions that are usually found in hard sci-fi. A bit disappointing, but minor in that regard.
Some of his descriptions are a bit off. When he describes Samantha she is a VERY tall woman. Then in the next paragraph she is stocky. Just a bit inconsistent at times.
The cover just sux azz. As the story unfolds you picture Skyler as more cerebral and unsure of himself, not rugged action hero dude with a space blaster hanging by his side. Publishers’ need to understand that COVERS SELL BOOKS! Not always, but mostly. Make the cover fit the theme of the novel. The space elevator in the background needs to come to the forefront so it captures the imagination. Kind of like Larry Niven’s Ringworld cover (pick any). The Dire Earth series has a set of covers that will be released in the UK, that are way frickin’ better than the US release, but not by much.
Did I say I loved this novel…no? Well I did. It was riveting, full of action, great character and story-line development and just plain fun. Like really good scifi, as you read, other creative ideas seem to come to you in the midst of catharsis. I like that, a lot. So few sci fi authors have evoked this type of sub conscious response to their writing. Ones that I can name are: Larry Niven, Jack Chalker, Asimov and Brian Daley (deceased). Jason, you are in good company.