BELT THREE

As­ter­oid ac­tion

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 298 pages | Pa­per­back/ebook

Au­thor John ayliff

Pub­lisher Harper Voy­ager

How tra­di­tional do you like your space opera? Au­thor John Ayliff clearly likes his pretty damn trad, even go­ing so far as to fea­ture a gen­uine space pi­rate in his de­but novel. How­ever, while this dark SF thriller is some­times retro to a mind-bog­gling de­gree, it’s also a solid mix of char­ac­ter-driven in­trigue and ad­ven­ture.

In a bleak fu­ture alien ma­chines known as World­break­ers have dev­as­tated the so­lar sys­tem, de­stroy­ing ev­ery planet. The rem­nants of hu­man­ity now strug­gle to sur­vive in the re­main­ing as­ter­oid belts, but when run­away clone Jonas has his ship hi­jacked by pi­rate Kel­dra, he’s dragged into her dan­ger­ous quest to fight back against the World­break­ers…

Ayliff’s world­build­ing oc­ca­sion­ally lacks fresh­ness, but he coun­ters this by de­liv­er­ing nuts-and-bolts space drama and giv­ing the plot a mount­ing sense of tension and mo­men­tum. His big­gest strength is char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion, with the book’s two pro­tag­o­nists evolv­ing a dif­fi­cult, be­liev­able re­la­tion­ship as the stakes get higher; this leads to a sur­pris­ingly emo­tional cli­max. A sat­is­fy­ing space opera that’s en­joy­able enough to al­low you to for­give its oc­ca­sion­ally over-tra­di­tional flavour. Saxon Bul­lock

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