Latt’s YA SF novel chronicles the misadventures of a teenager who discovers—and claims—an abandoned space station in a remote corner of explored space.
In the far future, human Bevil Cyrex comes from a long line of Star Folk—families of space explorers who chose not to settle on planets and, for generations, have lived peacefully on massive ships as sovereign nations. While out on a mining mission by himself, Cyrex attempts to steal supplies from an unmanned Earth Alliance outpost. This bad decision is compounded when a pirate destroys his ship and tries to kill him. Cyrex barely escapes with his life, but after taking the pirate’s craft, he realizes it’s preprogrammed with a deadly security feature: Without a code, the vessel will travel into deep space until its power runs out—and the interloper is dead. Cyrex’s life is spared, however, when the ship dies near an ancient space station. Once inside the massive structure, he realizes the entire place is in immaculate condition. When he meets a sentient nanite swarm that’s been the station’s caretaker for centuries—and that takes the form of his grandmother Nan—his view of the universe, and its inhabitants, is irrevocably changed. One of this novel’s greatest strengths is its strong and steady narrative focus. Latt’s writing is purposeful, the pacing relentless, and the action virtually nonstop; it all has the glorious sense of wonder associated with golden-age SF. Cyrex is insightfully portrayed as a young man trying to find his place in the universe, and the supporting characters are all brilliantly developed—particularly Nan, an artificial intelligence that’s learning, sometimes quite humorously, what it means to be human. Bombshell plot twists abound as Cyrex and company struggle to open the space station and stay alive as pirates and Alliance military eye the structure as a potential base.
An entertaining and promising beginning for a neo-retro spacefaring adventure series.