Author Jason Hough has produced a rather unique perspective on alien contact. In this case, an automated alien vessel has entered Earth's orbit and co..Show More »nstructed a space elevator centered over Darwin, Australia. A few years later, the rest of the planet becomes uninhabitable due to an unknown "disease" that changes people into "subhumans," all except for a patch of ground centered around Darwin. Under the influence, humans revert to more primitive behavior that is mostly violent. A few humans remain immune to the effect. Subsequently, the elevator has become a lifeline, supplying space grown food in exchange for air and water from below.
The story revolves around two young individuals caught up in the power struggles between and within the orbitals (spaced based habitats) and the people on the ground. In the meantime, another alien vessel is arriving. The sci-fi elements are standard fare with little beyond the alien artifacts which remain mysterious throughout. The action is non-stop with good pacing and nicely integrated infodumps that avoid bogging down the plot. Unfortunately there is little resolution of any major or minor conflicts as this is part of a longer story arc. The ending merely inserts some suggestive possibilities and leaves much hanging in the balance.
The Dire Earth Cycle, Part 2: The Exodus Towers picks up without missing a beat from part 1. The story continues with the establishment of an alternat..Show More »e colony around the newly formed 2nd space elevator in Brazil. The 2nd elevator offers movable aura towers, but the colonists run into a band of cult oriented immunes in the region. Skyler needs to go commando as well as discovers remnants of the five spin-offs from the 2nd elevator entry. There is evolving intrigue back in NightCliff with Grillo and the Jacobites gaining the upper hand. Samantha regains her scavenger day job. The story just stops shortly after the arrival of the next alien arrival with a bit of a cliffhanger.
This time out, beyond the space elevator, some interesting alien physics manipulation with time takes place. The subhuman mystery continues to evolve with some transition to a higher an d perhaps more sinister purpose. Unfortunately there is little in the way of revelation regarding alien intent or the true function of any of their artifacts. This installment only serves to add more mystery with few questions answered.
The narration is pleasant with an easygoing storytelling style that suits the tale. The flow is natural enough, but the pace does not vary giving the impression of the storyteller creating the plot with the reading. Hopefully part 3 will bring some overarching explanation as well as closure since right now, everyone is simply surviving by a thread.
The Plague Forge is the final installment in Jason M Hough's Dire Earth Cycle trilogy. By the end of book two, the builders' plan was coming into focu..Show More »s just a bit with a few additional alien artifacts needed. Skylar and his band divide up to scour the globe for the remaining items with one team heading into North America, while Skylar heads to Africa and the Darwin crew attempting outsmart Grillo for the last piece. Nothing seems to go right for any of them, although Skylar does find the source of the plague virus.
There's little new sci-fi elements, save for the denouement with the aliens that is handled largely as just a final explanation and potential setup for a new series ala the film Cocoon. Subs abound, especially when the artifacts are handled to the extent that the tale has a zombie feel. At the same time, there's a near overload of all the characters experiencing multiple near and presumed death events only to always miraculously escape. Also, the builders themselves turn out to be less than perfect and don't actually save the day, quite the reverse actually.
The narration is quite well done given the large cast of characters, although the pace does drag a bit in the early going. Hopefully further adventures with Skylar and crew are in the works.