First things first: this is a fantastic book. An excellently written space opera – that still felt unique in the sea of similar books. There is first contact with alien species – though not how you’re expecting. Wars with the aliens – probably more what you’re expecting. The ability to imagine, create, and convey the aliens, and their technology was superbly done. They are not like anything we can wrap our heads around – not like us.
Which is perfect…. Because they’re aliens. We should expect they might not be anything at all like we anticipate. Excellent world building in this story.
Additionally – there are many space stations, space ships, and planets, inhabited by our humans, factions of war and industry between them. Most seems to be governed by corporations – a chilling reality of where things do seem to be headed. Humans that are ‘indentured’ to work to earn what facsimiles ‘citizenship’ to one of them. [*trade working in crap situations for set number of years where you are given basic needs – but heaven forbid you need medical attention – that will cost you. Add more days/weeks/years to your term – a system not meant to benefit the indenture – but to fleece them for whatever the corporation can. Because profit is always the bottom line.] Maybe you’ll survive to transition from your indenture as ‘uncitizen’ to citizen… but probably not.
*** mild spoilers ahead ***
In the story – we follow the adventure of our main character Ash, who is an uncitizen, on the planet of Tribulation. There is mining disaster, due to the space war. Ashe ends up early on in the story, being rescued and then moved to a ‘salvager’ ship, to continue her indenture. Th bulk of the story takes place on the salvager ship, with the other crew members, some uncitizens, some citizens. It’s a small ship and small crew. Their job is to scour the ships that have been damaged/ killed in the war, and collect usable items. In this case – not only are they after their own repurposing for the Corporation – but doing their best to scoop up any and all alien (Vai) technology and more so – weapons that they can acquire.
The corporation is doing their best to collect the Vai weapons. To learn from them, replicate them. Understand them. And use them for their own gain in advancing ahead of other human corporations they are constantly trying to get ahead of.
The story winds between human interaction, emotional unrest and unease. Loss, love. Needs. War – between human factions, and against the Vai. The need to progress, and succeed. To live. To survive. To do whatever it takes…. And for Ash, and most of the crew – to do the right thing. And boy oh boy, are there some twists and turns.
The book is a page turner – superbly written. Unique – you really never can anticipate what will come next – the sign of a delightfully new perspective in the scape of space opera. Non stop action.