In this post-apocalyptic sci-fi debut, an enslaved race of cyborgs becomes caught between two warring clans of humanity.
On an Earth devastated by storms and blighted with deserts, a cyborg race (the cy) struggles to finish building a tower called Sky Lance. During a nasty tempest, an old cy engineer named Moshan is about to evacuate the tower when he learns that someone is still up on Troposphere five. He soon locates a female cy named Brinn, who works at the tower’s base as a healer. She’d wanted to see the miracle of the Sky Lance herself and so ventured up there. Moshan finds her, however, only to be struck by lightning and thrown miles to the ground. Cy Hadran, meanwhile, is a lowly Standard Unit who cleans garbage in the trenches radiating from the tower’s base. He finds Moshan’s body and is stunned when the old cy awakes. Moshan says that the Remnant, the mythological group of humans who fled a ruined Earth, have rescued him from death and given him a mission—to free the cy from the slavery of King Strauss and destroy the tower. This is indeed the plan of the General Order of the Democrats, who live on space stations orbiting Earth and must wrest the planet back from the secret machinations of the Dirt Queen, Gen. Ember Gallia. Martin begins his new series with an addictive fusion of over-the-top concepts (reminiscent of Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass) and streamlined sci-fi action. His prose conveys the narrative’s apocalyptic tone in tight, gripping jolts, like in the description of cars and refrigerators as “sun-scorched hulks of debris...the bones of some extinct race of robotic creatures.” Martin’s characters are likewise excellent, including the Dirt Queen, a patchwork creature with one bionic eye, “blue, and eerily perfect, the other gray, sunken, and milky with cataracts.” Most compelling of all is the notion that without Earth, “survival would be...a protracted act of wilting.” The finale promises raised stakes for the heroes in the next volume.
A bracing start to a darkly vibrant saga about a ravaged Earth.