Genre: Science Fiction
Setting: A planet 178 light-years from Earth
First Sentence: Jack Holloway set the skimmer to HOVER, swiveled his seat around, and looked at Carl.
John Scalzi is one of my favorite scifi authors. In each of his novels he has created unique characters and well developed universes. His "Old Man's War" universe is one of the best scifi universes ever imagined. In this novel, Scalzi has again created a planet like no other.
Jack Holloway is the main character of this novel. He is, in his own words, ...selfish, and unethical and...happy to deceive to get what I want." Jack is a disbarred lawyer. Disbarred, not because he doesn't know the law, but because he once punched a client in the face in the courtroom. He might be a loose cannon, but he knows the law.
Jack finds himself prospecting on a planet being mined by a ruthless human corporation. Jack accidentally discovers a rich vein of incredibly valuable gems. Jack's miniscule share would make him richer than the dreams of avarice.
Then, one day, he returns home to find one of the cuter members of the local fauna inside his house. As he interacts with the furry creature and its family, Jack notices that they are extremely intelligent. In fact, they might qualify as a sentient species. This would be bad for Jack and the corporation. Legally, the planet and its riches would then belong to the local sentient inhabitants.
As the plot progresses, while sorting out the legal entanglements of his discoveries, Jack manages to anger his former girlfriend, her lawyer husband, the local law, enforcement and the visiting corporate big wigs. Some of whom try to have Jack killed.
The story is told in the third person limited point of view. Yet the author does not let us in to all of Jack's thoughts. This makes following him a real roller coaster. We are in on some of his ideas, but he often surprises us with his legal tricks. And his motivation is always in question.
I enjoyed this novel. I recommend it, and all of John Scalzi's novels.
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