Daughters of the Forgotten Light is set in a deep space penal colony called Oubliette. Floating in space, it's home to the most savage criminals and other members of the population Earth no longer wants.
To survive on Oubiette you need to join a gang and Lena "Horror" Horowitz leads the Daughters of Forgotten Light, one of the three gangs fighting for survival. They've held a fragile truce with the canabalistic Amazons and the all-black Onyx Coalition for some time. That truce is shaken by new arrivals and supplies from Earth, which contains two surprises: a drone, and a baby. A baby making it all the way to Oubliette shouldn't be possible, with some supposedly strict checks Earth-side. Meanwhile back on Earth, Senator Linda Dolfuse wants evidence of the bloodthirsty gangs to justify the government finally eradicating the wasters dumped on Oubliette, hence the drone.
There's only one problem: the baby she can see in the drone's video may be hers.
This future Earth is one that's seen the effects of climate change, with the planet entering a new ice-age. One of the results of this change is a large part of North America and Asia are contained in protective domes. Consequently there is a measure of population control in place. Oubiellte was originally designed as a place where the elite could escape to, but with the Earth going the way it did, it got turned into a women-only prison. People aren't just sent to Oubiette for crimes, but also those who have a disabilty or whose parents can no longer affort to keep them.
The story is told through two main threads, life on Oubiette with Lena and her gang along with Senator Linda back on earth. The characters - most of which are female, as you might expect - are a diverse bunch, each representing a difference race, sexuality or disability. It's great to see characters with disability make an appearance, although it feels a few of the characters are really only there to make up the numbers. They do make an interesting and diverse bunch though amd the author really does bring them to life. The world-building is good also, painting a harsh picture of life in Oubiellte that does occasionally feel like Mad Max - Fury Road (but without the men). I am also reminded of the Dark Future novels written by David Pringle and Jack Yeovil in the early 90's.
The story itself is engaging and fast-paced, It kept me glued to the book from beginning to end. Even though it's pretty dark, it doesn't take itself too seriously and there is a real sense of energy from the prose. There is also a great deal of action, which the author describes fluidly.
Daughters of the Forgotten Light is an interesting take on modern dystopian fiction. There is a lot more going on than the light-hearted and energetic writing would have you believe. It's Inclusive and entertaining, making some big statements behind and easy-reading narrative. I love that disability is getting some visibilty, that even in a dark, depressing world of harsh survival on a penal colony that the the cast-offs of humanity have managed to improve their behaviour towards inclusion. If they can, there has to be some hope that we can too.
Written on 10th September 2018 by Ant.
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