I very nearly gave up on this book partway through. It felt like it was starting to fall into territory that I really don’t enjoy, with the author using the book to espouse their religious beliefs.1 I took a break, skimmed the leaf description again, an decided to give it another go, and managed to get hooked again.
While I can’t call it “hard” science fiction, because there’s some definite hand-waving about how things actually work, it’s certainly not “soft” science fiction, either. There’s clearly a system underlying all of the sci-fi elements, it just requires a bit of accepting “eh, it’s distant enough in the future that we’d probably have figured that out” and you can carry right along.
The setting is pretty interesting, overall – it’s a not-too-distant future, but the world has had some Busy Times in the interim. There’s a bit of the dystopian “the world is much worse than it looks, but our AR glasses make everything look fine, so who cares!” thing that I honestly despise, but underneath that grime there’s also a distinctly hopeful vibe to what’s actually going on. The best setpiece is definitely New Washington—rebuilding DC, following a nuclear bombing, as a network of bunkers buried below the continental shelf, with New Dulles as a floating airport/city above? Distinct Fallout vibes, in the best of ways.
Lastly, I’ll add that I can very clearly see one of the key influences for this book. What I won’t do is reference here what that is, because spoilers. If you’re curious, click through the footnote.2
All in all, I quite enjoyed this book. It takes it a while to really get going, but by the end it’s a delightful work of science fiction. Give it a read.3
- It’s okay for authors to do this in books! Just like it’s okay for me to not want to read those books as a direct result. ↩
- Andy Weir’s “The Egg” ↩
- This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores. ↩