Monday, June 12, 2017

Planetfall - Emma Newman

Emma Newman


This is a science fiction novel for readers who don’t like ‘hard science fiction.’   Like the best science fiction, it’s very much character-driven; the entire story depends on the relationships among the people who inhabit the pages.  It’s also very much a thriller, with a central secret/mystery that drives the plot.  The fact that these characters are on a distant planet is really almost secondary to the rest of the plot.  Readers who enjoy mystery/thriller stories will be very pleased with this one.

The main character is Renata (Ren.) She’s part of a group of people who left Earth decades ago, in search of (among other things) a better place to live.  The Earth of this story is overcrowded, and run by huge outfits that merge the government with corporations.  The gulf between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen.  It’s not really hard to see why they might have wanted to leave.  This group built a ship to take them to another planet.  Their leader was Suh, a woman who had the vision and the drive to make it all happen.  They called her the Pathfinder.  This group believed in her enough to leave their families and lives behind, in search of something more.

As we meet Ren, she and the rest have been living in a colony at the base of what they call “God’s city.”  It’s a construct they still don’t fully understand.  It seems to have been built by an unknown people, but it’s also clearly a living thing.  As the story begins, Mack, the de facto leader of the group, calls Ren in a panic.  Looking out from the colony, he sees someone moving across the countryside toward them.  This is huge.  During planetfall, some pods containing colonists were lost.  Although the main group searched for them, no survivors were ever found.  The young man, Sung-Soo, says that he’s the grandson of Suh.  His arrival, naturally, causes a huge stir within the colony.  Almost everyone welcomes him with open arms.  Ren and Mack, however, are more reserved.  They’re worried that Sung-Soo will discover the secret they’ve been hiding for years. 

Ren is a fascinating character.  She’s a scientist, she’s a colonist.  She’s a daughter who left her parents back on Earth.  She’s a mother who lost a young child.  She’s a friend; she’s a co-conspirator.  She’s deeply flawed.  She’s a woman who is clearly tormented by the secret she shares with Mack.  She’s someone who feels as if she could step off the page and into real life.  Her emotional life is very much at the heart of this novel.  Her journey is what we follow.  We might have made different choices, but we can see (once we know the truth) why she chose to act in the way that she did.  The story unfolds in a very organic way.  If you’re at all on the fence about scifi, please give this one a try.  You’ll be so glad you did!

Rating: 8
November 2015

ISBN# 978-0-425-28239-7 (trade paperback)


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