Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stark Beauty

As promised today I am posting my thoughts on Winters Song by Colin Harvey published by Angry Robot . The blog Walker of Worlds has already posted a very good review of the novel so do go and check out what he had to say too at his blog
The new publisher Angry Robot ranges a multitude of sub-genres and with Winters Song adds something very hard in the Science Fiction category; according to one of the back cover blurbs "Rock -hard science Fiction adventure...No one gets out alive." Well I agree, the body count is fairly high, but I would add or unchanged to the statement."

Winters Song relies on very few science fiction tropes, they are present in the novel, but the story is about much more then hyperspace, implanted personalities, terraforming and transhumanism. The conflicts that are present in the tale could have taken place in a secluded community now or in the last century, or millennia struggling with limited resources and questions of personal responsibility to community and society. Karl Allman, the protagonist and catalyst for change, crashes pretty spectacularly on a barely habitable planet (its a description worthy of Ian Banks here). He is helped by Bera a woman shunned by her social group/fostered family for an illegitimate and failed child.
Together these two break from the trial group causing a hunt across the icy and mostly barren and strangely, starkly beautiful landscape encountering the sometimes hostile and more often poisonous local fauna Karl looking for a possibly mythical ship/beacon through which he can send a signal for aid and Bera looking for freedom from the oppressive system that has kept the failing colony going for generations.
The above description does no real justice to the well crafted society that recalls the "Formers" that abandoned the unprofitable colony to fend for itself. In looking back on the story there is a great deal of heroism in the struggle of Ragnar's(the family "chieftain") and his small town you might call it. They may be harsh and repressive to us and the hero's of the story but in fact there is a nobility in their struggle. There are other elements that invade the story - but I think that those elements are best left to be discovered as the tae unfolds. Know that there is lots more at heart in this tale then the tropes that some authors use as central elements, this is a tale about personal struggle and will leave you thinking about it weeks later.
The tale that Colin Harvey is a worthy additions to the science fiction invasion that has come from England in the last decade. He deserves a place on your shelf along with Asher, Reynolds, Hamilton and Stross. He is not them, don't expect him to he but check him out.

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