Two young brothers and a ring-tailed lemur journey through space in search of a new habitat for the world’s population in Noble’s debut novel.
It’s 2048, and Earth is on the brink—humans have ravaged the planet, and the mounting frequency of hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes and solar storms promises human extinction. Central Command, the last, imperious vestige of the world’s governing bodies, fights against the Anarchists for control of human civilization. Forgotten among the chaos are a spaceship, Tin Can, and its crew—Jacob Edwards, the 14-year-old captain; his 8-year-old savant brother, Billy, whose outlandish visions repeatedly save Tin Can from certain doom; and their genetically engineered, superintelligent lemur, Quincy. Their destination: Europa, Jupiter’s largest moon and humanity’s best shot at survival. Mix these elements with sentient supercomputers and a league of computer gamers turned hackers and you have Noble’s well-written, wonderfully imaginative and bloated space odyssey. Much of the book is set in Billy’s abstract dreams; the circuits of supercomputers; featureless, imagined rooms; and other such hard-to-imagine places. These reveries occupy too much space and provide too little propulsion to drive the narrative. Other missteps, like some of the contrived science, come close to plucking readers from Noble’s delightful fantasy world. It’s only in the last third of the book, when Noble finally gets Central Command, the Anarchists, the Gamers, the newly conscious supercomputers and the Tin Can crew on stage simultaneously, that the novel gains momentum. Then the book feels as it should—the last chronicle of the fight over a ruined Earth, all played out with human survival dependant on three unlikely heroes in deep space. If Noble cuts the chaff and revs the action earlier, this could be fun and clever sci-fi.
A capable, powerfully imagined narrative that needs trimming.