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The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
Edited by Michael Braff
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath
Review by Steve Sawicki
Del Rey Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345537126
Date: 30 July 2013 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Skyler Luiken is a scavenger. He and his crew venture out to the destroyed cities of the 23rd century to scrounge for those things that society, such as it is, needs to continue it's existence. Luiken is also an immune, one of the very few who can not be infected by the alien plague that has wiped out humanity. The only things known about the plague is that it was sent by aliens and that it turns human beings into sub-human monsters.

That the very same aliens who sent the plague also sent a ship that created a space elevator reaching from orbit to Darwin, Australia is all part of the seeming incomprehensible puzzle that humanity now must try to unravel. The elevator also seems to have come with a safe zone, an area within which the alien infection does not reach. Thus, Darwin has become a haven for humanity.

But all is not well in Darwin. Power to the elevator has started to cut in and out, and infection has been found within Darwin as well as on some of the elevator rings. To make matters worse, there's a battle for control of the elevator going on and it's about to spill over into everyone's lives, most dramatically affecting Luiken and his crew. Luiken is tasked with fixing the power fluctuation while his crew is held hostage on one of the elevator platforms.

To add to the mess, the aliens apparently have sent additional ships and they are soon to arrive in Earth orbit. No one knows just what they might do or what the aliens might want. Invasion? Colonization? Resource mining? It will all make no difference unless Luiken is successful.

As debut novels go, this one is excellent. It's hard to believe that this is Hough's first, it is so well written. The story is top notch, with interesting characters and a concept that is far and away one of the most exciting of the year. This is seems to be a pretty complete concept without the padding of additional subplots used to pad the story. Everything that happens does so for a reason and this is a trait far beyond a first novelist, although, in this case, apparently not.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it for anyone who has been looking for that hard SF dose. The book is simply exceptional. This is also the first part of a trilogy that Del Rey is going to publish in consecutive months starting in July. I'm halfway through the second book and I can tell you there is no let down. If you like science fiction you owe it to yourself to check this book out. Highly recommended.

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