The novel is an ‘okay’ read with a unique twist on corporate morality towards what they create, including genetically modified humans. With the story being streamlined down due to a simplistic writing style, the plot moves quickly, spanning a short time frame, making this a quick read as well.
But, I wonder if just being a ‘quick, okay, read” is good enough for the discriminating Science Fiction reader?
The author takes a unique perspective on genetic engineering to create beings designed specifically to flourish in zero or low gravity environments without the unhealthy side-effects that afflict ‘normal’ humans.
There are sexual interactions within the storyline but the author chooses to portray them tactfully and acceptably with simple allusions to the acts rather than detailed accounts of the how’s and why’s.
The story moves along at a steady pace, keeping the action moving forward and not slowing down to give reprieve. There is never a point where there is so much going on that you get lost or lose track of events or what individual characters are doing.
The author gives a moral theme to the story by showing how corporate greed can outweigh obvious human compassion and moral obligations to protect life; especially humans mutated by the corporation’s own deeds.
The character development is cursory and light. Even after completing the novel there is no real sense of ‘who’ the characters are at all. Granted, Bruce Van Atta is cast as ‘evil’ and Leo Graf is cast as ‘good’, but beyond that impression there is no actual depth perceived of any character.
In one sequence, gasoline is used as an explosive in the creation of a replacement part for a spaceship. It is not clear how the gas is kept in the right ‘position’ within its layer above the metal ‘blank’ being used. The entire process of how explosives are layered and then exploded in space doesn’t make sense, and even after reading the section over a second time the confusion does not clear up.
It appears that the author doesn’t feel the need to develop the surroundings of the characters any more than the characters themselves. All that can be said about the main planet, Rodeo, is that it is covered with red sand and barely breathable without a mask after fifteen minutes. As for the habitat, my imagination makes me think of building blocks like Lego’s, dull and bland, with long pipes full of holes for plants in the hydrolab. Nothing else sticks out as memorable at all.
When the novel ends, there are many issues left unresolved, some of which are glaring and troubling. One is the issue of the relationship between Silver and Leo; where are their lives going? What are the authorities at Orient IV going to do about the habitat and people travelling in it through their planetary system? What about the needed supplies that are supposed to be picked up from Orient IV?