This is a stand alone kind of prequel novel for an upcoming series of books set in a universe known as “Pax Imperium”. It is a universe where government and megacorporations are one and the same (this corporate government is called The Unity and it is based primarily on the US government). This novel though is set purely on one planet in this universe – the titular Aetna.
Our protagonist is a black market trader named Jack. He is at once an affable character and ultimately rather familiar in a Han Solo sort of a way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I guess in the world that the writer has created and the characters he populates it with, we come to have certain expectations.
This is easily one of the best written and edited examples of independent published books I have been approached to read. The editing is flawless and the author has a clear idea of how fiction should flow. Some of the reviews I read on Good Reads criticised that it took a while to get going – and it does – but the space is used effectively to build a sense of place, the setting and the characters. This is a rich world to fully absorb yourself into.
And this world and this universe is colourful and richly illustrated. I love its decadence – like Imperial Rome it seems dysfunctional yet able to survive despite its apparent propensity for self-destruction, always looming -perhaps being sustained purely because of such widely available decadence. You know it will collapse spectacularly in on itself eventually because it is in such a fragile state. I also love its modernist theme, how it reflects our world now: a world where people no longer have real relationships but everything is lived in a virtual world and plays out purely in our heads – a world where we are ruled by businesses.
Because the world has so many layers and I was enjoying the ride so much I kept forgetting about the plot and what the story was even about – it almost feels like an afterthought and I am still to decide whether it is a good or bad think that the plot feels more like a support act in this way. I have enjoyed many books written in this style: Paulo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl is pretty much like this to.
So what is it about? Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl and breaks the law. Law makers don’t like it and blackmail boy into doing what they want amidst all the political turmoil. Law makers inject boy with some nanites to try to control him and make him do what they want. You know… that old chestnut! Seriously though, I’ve said too much already and you really should read this.
You know, some of this indieview content is so good I might start nominating yearly awards!