Friday, July 20, 2007

The Hidden Worlds - Kristin Landon




The Hidden Worlds
Kristin Landon
Ace

Science Fiction

Generations ago, the sentient machines known as the Cold Mind destroyed most of humanity. Only the jump ship pilots, who managed to evacuate a portion of the population saved humanity from extinction. The refugees colonized planets known as the Hidden Worlds. As a result, the Pilot Masters of the Line are now the highest power known to man. They control the wealth, the shipping and trade, and the politics from their base on Nexus. Nephew of the leader of the Line, Iain sen Paolo is proud to be a pilot, but the galaxy he thinks he knows is about to change.

On a poor colony planet, Linnea Kiaho and the rest of her tiny fishing village are devastated when most of the men and their one ship sink. With their means of survival gone, the village must move to the nearest larger city. Linnea, her sister, Marra, and Marra’s children end up in a barracks with no work, no income, and no hope. Until, one evening, Marra tells her little sister about the strange tube that has been passed down through the family line. This tube belonged to a distant relative who took a work contract on Nexus. When he returned, he implied that the tube related to some great scandal; but the details are lost, since anyone who spends any time on Nexus suffers a social death upon their return.

In her desperate attempt to find any kind of work to sustain her family, Linnea learns the truth about her planet. The current trade contract is expiring; ships no longer land there, resources are drying up, and the populace faces a slow death. There is no money to renew the contract or to get people off the planet. To save her people, and to make sure her family survives, Linnea decides to take a work contract on Nexus. Even before she leaves, she is dead to her sister. When she arrives on Nexus to work for Iain’s family, she attempts to barter the information the silver tube holds for a new trade contract. It’s clear that the leader of the Line knows what information it contains, but he stonewalls. Iain decides to help Linnea uncover the secret that could undo the power of the Pilot Masters at a time when the Cold Mind may have found the Hidden Worlds.

THE HIDDEN WORLDS is a thing of beauty. A science fiction story set in a far future, but with clear and familiar footholds in the past. Linnea is a wonderful character. She’s young and has little idea of the obstacles she faces, but she’s willing to essentially trade her life for the survival of her family. Iain is much the same, although raised in an atmosphere of male wealth and power. He’s flawed, but a decent person. The societies created here are clearly delineated and have a true depth. The story has great pacing that is never bogged down by extraneous technical information. The pages practically turn themselves. I hope that this is only the first of many novels from this extremely talented author.

Rating: 9
July 2007
ISBN# 978-0-441-01511-5 (paperback)

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