In this quite extraordinary novel we have a piece of science fiction that could well become a literary classic. The combination of figurative language, timeless universal themes, and adventure shown through the eyes of carefully realised and presented characters places this work high above many in the genre. In fact, it can’t really be confined by the strictures of genre; it’s far too ubiquitous and representative to be shackled by labels.
The author sets this tale on a planet at the very edge of space, signalling his intention to employ the themes of the outcast and the marginalised to convey his story. And what a story it is: complex, devious, twisting, multifaceted, deep, involving, startling, engaging and, ultimately, deeply satisfying.
I read a fair amount and amongst my selection is a good deal of science fiction. This book gripped me from the outset and clung to my attention and imagination throughout. It’s a novel I didn’t want to put down once started.
We’re faced with a cast of flawed players dumped into a dead-end world with almost no hope of ever living through the challenges they face, let alone escaping them. Abandoned, rejected, tossed away without concern by a commercially driven uncaring galactic authority, the Towners are effectively left to rot on their prison home. There is no hope of escape, no likelihood of rescue, no chance of redemption. They must survive or die. Faced with a hostile environment populated by vicious native wildlife, they must find ways to adapt if they are to find any sort of future.
When the unreliable and old tech they’ve inherited begins to fail and some unknown force becomes a murderous threat, the disparate crew of misfits and criminals must decide whether to trust the quixotic judgment of their self-appointed leader or take note of the newcomer who fell from the sky in an escape pod. She faces doubt, suspicion and threat increased by her inability to explain her arrival; her story of being ejected from the exploding mother ship she previously occupied in some luxury is hard for them to swallow, but it’s the only story she knows.
Amid the ensuing death and destruction, and the rebellion of old servile tech, courage, honesty and justice rise to spur on those who would rather risk all for the sake of their small community.
Parallels with contemporary life on Earth are clear to the perceptive reader who will recognise the barriers, challenges and problems facing this small group of determined survivors. You’ll definitely want to know what happens to the people depicted in this great read.