In Dudley’s (Crossing Xavier, 2016) sci-fi sequel, Earth colonists on another planet discover a life-form in need of their help.
Teenage Petrov “Pete” Garrick isn’t content with his life on the planet Glory. Tending the family’s fish farm is simply not as exciting as the adventures of teen space explorers on his favorite program, The Adventures of Biff and Bill. So he jumps at the opportunity to take a school field trip to investigate the Sound, a radio broadcast of a constant pitch whose unknown source is somewhere on the planet. But while Pete and his fellow students are away, his home colony of St. Nicholas is mysteriously destroyed—just like another colony was, nearly two decades before. Later, at college, Pete befriends Docelyn “Docie” Frantzen, and he comes to find out that the Sound is a distress call from a machine known as Knowledge Keeper. It asks the humans to help the enigmatic “ones who are stored in ice”—beings who’ve been dying ever since their Caregiver died. Pete, Docie, and their colleagues do whatever they can to aid the intelligent life-forms, but then other humans learn what’s happening, which could lead to violence. Although Dudley initially keeps the details of the frozen beings ambiguous, the worldbuilding is comprehensive and detailed. The colonies, for example, are shown to be primarily divided by religion (St. Nicholas is Christian; Caravan is Muslim). Intermittent snippets of the Storytellers Forum—aliens discussing the human colonization of Glory, who also appear in the author’s previous book—effectively provide much of the backstory. There’s also plenty of clever, satirical humor; one member of the Forum, for instance, believes that “California” is a religion, whose followers worship money. Dudley develops his dynamic characters at an unhurried pace, such as Pete’s grandmother Katrina, whom he hasn’t seen in years; it’s revealed that she left the colony after St. Nicholas residents deemed one of her poems blasphemous.
Well-formed characters and a vivid setting make this futuristic tale a standout.