Samantha Marriott's family is lucky to escape a growing political discontent in their hometown. Things would be great at their new temporary home if it weren't for the fact that aliens have decided to complete their missions of destruction and all the adults have huge secrets. Samantha and all those around her quickly decide what it is that is important to them and must fight for it...to the death.
A very smoothly written science fiction. This smoothness made the story entrancing and so believable (another that was read in one-sitting...again, one-sitting as defined by a mother of a running Toddler and a constantly jumping Preschooler). The only time that I found myself pausing for believability was when humor was at just too awkward a time (that happened a bit near the end of the story).
I like all of my characters to be very well-developed and this story had that...in a puzzling way. The action was laid out by several different narrators. For this particular story, skipping around from one mind to the other actually worked (and one might even say it was appropriate for the subject matter covered). On some level, each entity (person, machine or alien) is struggling to understand the true meaning of humanity.
(I would recommend Roger Zelazny's "The Last Defender of Camelot" for readers who wish to further think about humanity and whether humanity can be learned via will power...G.D. Tinnams can take this observation as a big compliment to his writing style.)
Rating: Five Stars for me and that is not an easy thing for the more modern sci-fi to get from me. :-)
Prudish Parent Verdict: I will be adding the paperback to my children's book libraries for when they are grownup. There is no sexual content but some remarks about intimacy towards the end of the book.
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“Come on,” she said, reaching through the hatch and clasping Roger by both arms. His breathing had become laboured and he made no effort to help himself as she pulled him through the gap.
Standing up awkwardly she stared down at him. His face was burnt and his eyes were closed. Carrying him was not an option. Her own limbs were far too heavy.
She kicked him.
“Get up!” She rasped. “Come on you silly little man, you can rest all you like later. Kristof could be here any second.”
He didn’t move, Josella waved a hand in dismissal and then stumbled wearily across to the nearby escape pod door. The display above the door indicated it was intact. She punched the button. The door opening just as a large hand tapped her on the shoulder.
“Good,” she said, turning round. “You’re u...”
It was Kristof, his single eye glinting red with reflected light.
“Your skin’s peeling,” Kristof commented. “That’s not a good look.”
Reflexively, she tried to push him away, but it was a push that lacked any real force. Grabbing her wrist, his fingers closed around it with bone-crushing force.
She fell to her knees.
Kristof turned his head toward Roger and studied him. Roger’s barely opened eyes stared back.
“It was quite difficult for me to get here,” Kristof said turning back to Josella. “Using the engine inspection channel was very daring of you and very dangerous. You almost beat me.”
“Just let us come with you, Kristof,” she said wearily. “You gain nothing by killing us.”
The giant nodded slowly as if considering her words and then threw her back towards the engine hatch. She fell over Roger, landing sprawled over his chest.
“I’m leaving you here,” Kristof declared as he wiped away yet more blood from the weeping eye socket. He held up the drive he had recovered. The drive Josella knew was her own.
“I’ll be interested to see where this takes me.”
He stepped through the doorway and then turned to face her. “I don’t blame you, Josella. Kanton commanded and you obeyed. That is as it should be, but I also cannot suffer you to live. You have caused me far too much pain... Goodbye Josella.”
The door thudded to a close and he was gone. Struggling to her feet, Josella staggered across to the display and was almost felled by vibrations as the pod blasted away from the hull. Kristof had escaped. She turned to Roger, he had managed to prop his back up against the wall, but had moved no further.
“We’re dead, aren’t we?”
She did not reply.