Blogger and short story writer Khanna turns his sights to the skies in this debut novel.
Life in the Sick isn’t easy. In post-apocalyptic America, the Bug has changed life as we know it, turning ordinary humans into insane slavering cannibals known as Ferals. The Bug that burned through the world of the Clean (as our time is known) has left only a few precarious human settlements behind, settlements frequented by airship pilots known as zeps. In one of these settlements, a place improbably named Apple Pi, a band of determined scientists led by a woman named Miranda continues to research the Bug at great risk to the community, believing it can still be cured. Into this world comes lone wolf Ben Gold, a dirigible pilot with a gun in his holster and a chip on his shoulder (“you don’t need much else,” he says). Ben doesn’t believe in Miranda’s scientific mission but somehow believes in Miranda personally. Hired to keep Miranda safe during her foraging missions among the Ferals, Ben is torn between the strange loyalty he feels toward her and his own fatalistic sense that her mission is doomed: “We are all Life’s bitches, until Death steals us away.” But when Apple Pi is raided by airships from a mysterious Viking colony known as Valhalla, which drops contagious Ferals on the unsuspecting scientists, Ben is forced to go on the run. The raiders steal Miranda’s research—along with Ben’s dirigible, The Cherub—and to get it back, and find out what Valhalla is up to, Ben makes an increasingly implausible and dangerous series of decisions in an effort to redeem himself.
It’s post-apocalypse as Western, only done first and better in Firefly. A fast and mindless adventure story adding little that’s new or exciting to the genre.