Andrea Cort, a Judge Advocate for the Diplomatic Corps, is enroute to New London for a long overdue vacation when she is informed of a change in plans. Rather than enjoying some R&R, she is instead redirected to One One One, an immense cylindrical artificial world created and run by an independent AIsource. It’s a world whose upper atmosphere alone is habitable, a mass tangle of vegetation and hanging hammocks, its lower regions a deadly toxic soup incapable of supporting life. And it also happens to be the scene of two brutal murders.
Andrea is charged with the task of investigating the recent deaths of two human researchers, however she is under strict orders NOT to lay blame on the AIsource. Instead, she must peg the crime on one of One One One’s many unique residents: a corrupt administrator, a mysterious bureaucrat, two cylinked humans of like mind but unlike bodies, countless bitter indentured servants to the great galactic state, or the primitive but intelligent bio-engineered primates known as the Brachiators. Complicating matters is the burden Andrea carries from her childhood – the guilt, self-doubt and infamy that comes with being the sole survivor of a massacre in which the inhabitants of a hitherto peaceful colony suddenly and inexplicably turned on one another in a murderous frenzy.
Considered by many a monster herself, Andrea must walk a tightrope of intrigue and hidden agendas to uncover the truth behind the deaths on One One One – and, in so doing, possibly shed some light on the darkest, cryptic moments of her own past.
Okay, I went into this novel thoroughly intrigued and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. Castro does a wonderful job of world-building, presenting an artificial environment that is believable, beautiful, and frightening as hell. I share the protagonist’s fear of heights (Hell, I even get nervous when someone I know is on a balcony!), so the prospect of negotiating uncertain territory where the slightest mistep could prove fatal had me “on edge” throughout, especially after the following description of the fate that befell the first victim:
“The young indenture may have remained conscious and terrified for long minutes, as she plunged toward the fatal high-pressure regions far below.
How must it have felt, falling all that distance, knowing even as the temperature rose all around her that all her striving had been futile?”
What a horrific prospect, that she would have died long before her body impacted – IF there was anything left of her to impact. That image persisted as I read on, feeding an underlying tension that had me so wound up I could barely get through each chapter fast enough. To his credit, the author doesn’t simply sit back and allow the book’s terrific premise or its compelling setting to drive the story. While the layers of mystery and treacherous terrain are certainly key elements here, it’s Castro’s wonderful characters that propel the narrative, especially Andrea Cort, a tough, non-nonsense loner who proves surprisingly vulnerable when all is said and done. She’s a great character reminiscent of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cordelia Naismith, David Weber’s Honor Harrington, and Karen Traviss’ Shan Frankland – strong, fiercely independent, and very likable.
Overall, a clever, well-paced SF thriller. My only quibble was with the expository sequence at novel’s end, Andrea’s extended explanation of exactly what happened and why that, while certainly harkening back to those hardboiled paperbacks of yore, felt a little clunky in an otherwise well-executed book.
So, those were my initial thoughts. What did everyone else think? Weigh in with your opinions AND your questions for author Adam-Troy Castro!
Audrey writes: “Wow. You actually ate offal? You are a braver soul than I. I don’t think I could eat all those ‘leftover’ bits.”
Answer: If you eat hot dogs, you already have.
Narelle from Aus writes: “Or just selling all of my crap and moving to some beach in Thailand.
Answer: Not at all. I’d wait for you to go down and settled in first, THEN show up and mooch off you and your hubby. Smart, no?
Col. Mustgard writes: “Joe, are we every gonna see Dr. Lee again?”
JYS writes: “i got to taste the pasta too..but no meatballs or truffles:(”
Answer: Trust me, they were goooooooooooooooooooood. Where are you working now?
Ponytail writes: ”
Oh, so that is how Marty G got his nickname. He is suffering from liver disease and yellow with jaundice and you’re calling him Golden Boy? Shame on you! Did you have to help him cut up his meat too because of his finger boo boo?”
Answer: Yep. And I chewed his food for him like a mother bird.
Gilder writes: “Joe, are reservations recommended at Fuel? I assume I should mention my food sensitivities when I order; would Chef Belcham be offended if I declined liver or goat cheese?”
Answer: Reservations are recommended – and if you have any food allergies or issues, do let them know and they’ll be more than happy to create a special menu just for you. Or you can simply go a la carte and choose from the menu items.
Ryan writes: “My question is: in season 2 , will there still be clues, hints or tidbits given like there has been in season 1?”
Answer: Yes, the events of early episodes will set up events in later episodes that will eventually pay off down the line. We’ve got a lot of arcs and throughlines, big and small, in store.
Shawna Buchanan writes: “So, you’ve mentioned the SGA movie again. Is there still no word on that or the next SG-1 movie? Please tell me they’re not thinking of canceling them.”
Answer: Still no word on either movie. Alas, it’s out of my hands. Like you, I’m sitting on the sidelines waiting for the call.
Ytimynona writes: “First question: do you HAVE wireless at your house? If not, then, well, that was probably the problem.”
Answer: I do and even though I enter the correct network key, it still won’t let me on.
duneknight writes: “so the best three episodes are next? shouldn’t you love all your episodes just the same?”
Answer: Nope. Episodes are like children – you have your favorites and then you have those that didn’t turn out quite like you’d hoped they would.
tinasegreto1981 writes: “In the episode “Outcast” we learn something about the relationship of John to his father.
What was or is the real reason for the dispute between the two? In Your Opinion.”
Answer: John’s decision to join the military.
FOB writes: ”
We saw ‘Homeworld Command’ for the first REAL time in ‘Earth’, despite seeing areas that in retrospect were obviously part of it, in previous episodes. How does this effect the previous administrative system of the Dept of Homeworld Security? Is the SGC still operating?”
Answer: Homeworld Command is the command center for Homeworld Security. It has also incorporated Stargate Command within its umbrella.
kuro-sama writes: “kinda wondering; is it normal for american tv series to went into hiatus (or break) in the middle of the series?”
Answer: It’s growing common, yes.
E writes: “It was late night and Jack was sitting in his office? Not at home with Sam?”
Answer: She was keeping dinner warm for him and running a hot bath.
Conniepoint writes: “Just a quick question, we’ve seen numerous people involved in Stargate become directors for the series over the years. Is there anyone else in the writer’s room or behind the scenes that might be stepping up if (when) SGU is picked up for a second season?”
Answer: Not the writers’ room.
Sara writes: “What’s your take according to what you are reading here and in other feedback arenas that are available to your writing team – is SGU well received, are fans still waiting to see something to keep them watching, or are people not enjoying it?”
Answer: Like it’s predecessors, it has its fans and its detractors. I think it’s highly unlikely anyone can produce a show that will garner 100% support.
Chris U. writes: ” It really appeared to me that not only was Telford surprised that he quickly cut back to earth and then back to Destiny in a short span, but also that he was surprised to find himself involved with Young’s wife when he popped back.”
Answer: I think he would’ve been surprised regardless of what Young had been doing at the time – say, playing the xylophone. Probably not as surprised, but surprised nonetheless.
Shadow Step writes: “What about the one where she practices putting it on a broomstick first – will it be a DVD extra?”
Answer: Kino scene.
Simon writes: ”
1) I’m guessing that, from a photo found on the GW forums that the alien race we encounter in the episode are water-living aliens?
2) What’s that wierd mask like thing attached to Rush? Are these the same aliens you mentioned a while back that ‘abducted’ him?
3) Will ”Space (1)” & ”Devided (2)” be action packed episodes?”
Answers: 1) Tune in to find out. 2) I’ve never mentioned alien abductions. 3) Different types of action but, yes, plenty of.
Debra writes: “Just read Mary Ryan’s “Response to Brad Wright” & have one question.. she ranted on about people who are critical of the show not being idiots, not guilty of “not getting it” etc. Did Brad or ANYONE with the show actually say such a thing or was that her own twist to justify her rant?”
Answer: Don’t know what she was referring. All too often, when people take exception to what somebody else said, it’s because they fixate on a couple of sections taken out of context. For instance, I prefaced my rant by stating “I’d suggest that anyone looking to post a critical comment consider their wording – not their opinion, but the way in which they express said opinion.” and moved on from there. Still, this particular quote was effectively ignored by those who insisted I was reacting to general criticism of the show. Go figure.
Brendan writes: “Tell Kerry that her precious Canucks are going to lose tomorrow night, to my home team the St. Louis Blues.”
Answer: Ha! Kerry just happened to be in my office while I was approving your comment. She told me to tell you your Blues are going down!
dasNdanger writes: “What’s your favorite food aroma?”
Answer: I would also go with freshly baked cookies.
ian writes: “So, why in SG-1 did the comm. stones incapacitate the person who activated it, while in SGU they just switch minds?”
Answer: We’ve seen slightly different versions of the device in both SG-1 and SGA.
Jayenkai writes: “What are your thoughts on the fact that the transcripts/HD shots are appearing at Gateworld before the episodes have aired in the UK, and other countries?”
Answer: I think the gang at Gateworld do a great job of keeping fans updated and, often, that includes posting the very latest videos, pics, and interviews. Sometimes, those videos, pics, and interviews may contain spoilers and my best advice would be for individual fans to proceed with caution. If Gateworld has HD shots from an episode you’ve yet to watch, you might want to consider holding off on viewing them until after the episode has aired.
Annie from Freemantle writes: “I’ve never tasted venison.. can you let me know what meat it closest resembles to in taste?”
Answer: Lean beef.
BunEgeria writes: “I want to know about the pod from the end of Air 3?”
Answer: And you will – in about four episodes.
Matthew Stoner writes: “Here’s a question: was this the last ship that the Ancients sent into deep space, or is it possible for a newer ship to be following in the Destiny’s footsteps?”
Answer: Oh, it’s certainly possible.
dasNdanger writes: ”
Tonight I sat down to read Dark Reign Wolverine: The List – by Jason Aaron. At the end of the story, there was another Wolverine short story by Jason Aaron, called ‘A Good Man’. I immediately recognized the story.
So I dug through my back issues until I came across Wolverine #175 (Tieri/Chen), where – on the corner of the cover – is a tag that reads, ‘Wolverine writing contest winner inside!’
I opened it up, and sure enough, there was Aaron’s story, ‘A Good Man’. That was back in 2002. I remember reading that story about two or three years ago, and wondering for a while afterwards whatever happened to that contest winner. I hadn’t heard of Aaron yet, and so I figured he was just some flash in the pan. How wrong I was!”
Answer: Very cool. Today’s fans are tomorrows writers.
Riverfox writes: “So, yeah. That’s my opinion. I try to voice it respectfully, and I hope no one is going to take offense at the fact that I really am not enjoying the show thus far. We are all entitled to our opinions. =) I’m just tossing mine out onto the pile.”
Answer: Thanks for taking the time to weigh in with your thoughts on the show. Would love to hear your take on the next three episodes.