In the Company of Others by Julie E. Czerneda
Posted by Zumbs on August 26, 2012
In the far future, humanity managed to travel to the stars. First they searched for extra terrestrial intelligence without success. Then they selected a number of dead planets fit for human life and started to terraform these worlds. As the terraforming progressed a number of space stations were established to facilitate immigration from Earth to the new worlds. However, something went wrong in the new worlds. The mysterious Quill caused the new worlds to be uninhabitable. Little is known of the Quill, and theories range from a plague, dangerous “three meter tall giants with googly eyes and long tentacles” to simply being a hoax.
Either way, the Sol system put the new worlds under quarantine and in panic refused the settlers to return home, fearing that they would bring the Quill to Earth. This left the settlers and station personal effectively stranded on the space stations, quickly filled past capacity, afraid and with few supplies. Our story starts some decades later, when Earth scientist Dr. Gail Smith and her ship The Seeker docs at Thromberg space station, looking for a young man called Aaron Pardell. As you may have guessed, Dr. Smith is researching the Quill, and trying to find some way of making the quarantined worlds inhabitable.
Having been left out to dry by Earth, the people at Thromberg station aren’t exactly happy with Earth or the newcomers. They managed to survive through the extreme hardship of the last few decades and live in extreme close quaters. And “they” are not a uniform group: Some are remnants of the old station personal, others are settlers and some few are space explorers. While they live together, each group has its own desires, internal intrigues and goals.
The book is well written and the characters are nuanced, different, and often have their own agendas. The description of the development of the crowded Thromberg station, as well as the intrigues on The Seeker work well. In many ways the story is character driven in the sense that it is people who act and react to each other.
It is highly recommended, and I plan on reading more by the author.