In this debut novel, a Postbox transports future government auditor Sero Novak to a colony on a water planet.
With a duplicate body printed for him by a Postbox and his mind uploaded into his newly made brain, Novak is mentally connected with the rest of the Race—humanity—by a NeuroVision memory linkup. His vital mission is to learn what has happened to the colonists on the water planet NineDee and how their efforts to tame the primitive ocean-bound world have progressed. As Novak explores NineDee and gets to know the people who live there, he encounters the dangers of the indigenous life forms and the environment—and uncovers weirder and weirder secrets about the colonists themselves, culminating in a terrible revelation that forces him to take desperate action. With humans having survived an economic apocalypse to rebuild a better society, but one still with deep-rooted dissension and selfishness, will they carry their petty desires and desperate wishes across the galaxy? And will Novak be able to act in the best interests of all of humanity in the face of his own slipping ideals as well as the destructive passions of the people sent to build their outposts among the distant stars? Tyson makes ambitious choices and trusts the reader to be smart enough to follow his narrative. While the characters are human and three-dimensional and the dialogue clean but slightly didactic, the pace is measured and the setting descriptions are complex and challenging. Little effort is made to clarify terms and ideas as they are first presented, and readers must infer and learn as they progress. Luckily, the demands made on readers are well-rewarded. But given the dense approach to worldbuilding in the novel, it is difficult to know if the author’s lapses into contemporary diction and behavior are virtues or flaws (“She says she feels the same about me. You’ll see, Minnus. We just…pop!”). Other contemporary pop-culture references (“frak,” “Gigantor,” etc.) are jarring and have less potential defense.
Inventive, intelligent sci-fi about humans grappling with an oceanic world.