I’m not a fan of detective stories disguised as space science fiction. That’s exactly what this book turned out to be. Oh, it’s OK as far as books go, but it’s not my kind of book. Having said that, I’ll try and do an unbiased review.
Our main character is Harland Rubik and he is a senior silicone runner (detective, small caps in the book). Don’t know why they are called silicone runners and it’s never explained in the book or I just missed it. Anyway, he’s on a case that has some interesting twist. He’s following the trail of an assassin who has been in business for far too long. This particular assassin has eluded Harland for quite some time, but now it appears that he’s on the final leg of capturing his prey.
Only, one of those twist comes up. Oh, yeah, he does capture the assassin, Santo Vallan, who just killed an abbot (Artificial Biomechanical roBOT) laying a trap for Harland. Now abbots are almost sentient life forms, although they do have programming guiding their actions. In the distant past, something changed that programming and the abbots revolted causing a lot of death and destruction for the humans population. In fact, they destroyed Earth; made it uninhabitable.
Of course it wasn’t just the abbots fault that the Earth isn’t livable any more. No, humanity had a hand in polluting the atmosphere and when the wars went nuclear, the remaining radiation just tipped everything over the edge. Humans are now on Mars and huge, gigantic space station in orbit over the Earth, but very few people ever go down to the planet and no one is ever born there any more. There are some human-type creatures that are the results of failed genetic engineering. These are feral humanoids that eat anything and everything. They don’t appear to have much intelligence, but they are powerful, even thought they normally look like the walking dead. You don’t want to be caught out in the forest on Earth alone any more.
Ok, another thread to the story will start with a young scientist who does happen to be on Earth. She’s a weather specialist attempting to see if there is some way to change the Earth’s weather so as to help it heal faster. Unfortunately, the team of scientist is called away to find what happened at a remote reporting site. There they encounter something that is the nightmare of humans. It’s not supposed to be like this and young Irena Selles was forced to flee into the forest with those feral humans fast on her trail.
Luckily for her, she ran right into a scavenger crew. Yeah, artifacts from old Earth were in great demand on the space stations and Mars. Of course scavenging Earth was illegal due to the contamination potential, but it did pay off significantly if you found the right stuff. The crew of the Mule agreed to take Irena back to the Atlas space station and that’s where they eventually meet up with Harland Rubik.
So, you’ve got two or three threads going on in the story with some kind of major background conspiracy happening that could change the future of humanity. Only, Harland Rubik, the silicone runner, has to solve this mystery before anything happens. One thing you’ll find out that I thought was pretty dumb, Harland gets the help of the Mule crew, but they turn out to be pretty idiotic in the final fight. Every one of them gets seriously injured so he winds up having to fight his battles alone. I’m not sure why he even bothered bringing them along on his adventure.
Again, this is pretty much a simple detective story about someone doing something illegal and the law has to stop them. Could have been set on Earth in any modern day with the main character’s name as “Sam Spade”, but I guess someone has a copyright on that. This is a stand alone book, but I guess there could be more with the same characters. If so, I’ll not be reading them because I’m not into detective stories. Did I say that enough?