A scientist aiming to colonize a new planet faces strong—and potentially lethal—opposition from an affluent rival in Hachem’s sci-fi debut.
In 2083, the world’s largest space vessel is finally ready for launch after more than three decades in the making. Its destination is Legaia, a planet that will be home to close to 100,000 colonists, most chosen by lottery. The project is the life’s work of nanotechnology professor Dr. Randal Porter, whose robotics company, Nanoflèche Technologies, develops top-of-the-line, “nandroid”-class robots. Randal’s brilliant protégé, Monte Cizek, will be living on Legaia as well, with his own family. Monte’s late father, Chris, was a robotics/aeronautics pioneer and Randal’s friend, so Randal enlists Nate, the latest-generation nandroid, to be Monte’s bodyguard. Nate is a “level-eight” machine, which Randal designed to learn through observation. It turns out that Randal has good reason to worry, because his old pal–turned-enemy, Richard Hurlocke, attempts to sabotage the Legaia project before the ship is even off the ground. Richard’s Android Sustainability Group manufactures robots that are similar to NTI’s but quite a few technological steps behind. Richard wants to end his former friend’s “reign” with a plan that would likely put most, if not all, of Legaia’s new population in danger. Despite the presence of a relentless villain, much of Hachem’s tale is easygoing, as it concentrates mainly on Monte’s personal life. The young scientist inches closer to his love interest, Claire Ortega, and also gets overwhelmed by Nate’s insistence on accompanying him everywhere. Although Monte is intelligent (he indisputably grasps NTI’s tech, for example), he often doesn’t take things seriously; at one point, for instance, he’s distracted by a voice message from Claire and nearly fouls up Nate’s upgrade. The story ramps up, however, in the final act, with a possible mole among the authorities, more than one surprising loss, and the possibility of a massive confrontation. Hachem teases but doesn’t fully explain certain aspects of his fictional world, including a mysterious pandemic back in 2047 and Chris Cizek’s alcoholism, which leaves the door open for sequels.
An expansive tale, despite its focus on one character, that offers trendy tech and substantial back story for a planned series.