By Christopher Hinz
Author: Christopher Hinz
- Series: The Paratwa Saga
- ISBN: 9780857668929
- Published: October 2021
- Pages: 458
- Format reviewed: E-Book
- Review date: 02/11/2021
- Language: English
Science Fiction does not have to be epic. It can tell a small story about a single person or family as they struggle against a strange new world, but sometimes you want to read a stonking great space opera where an individual's actions can alter worlds. Liege-Killer by Christopher Hinz is one such book. It focuses on character, but the difference here is that their actions could bring about a change in how the colonies of Old Earth are governed. Epic stuff.
Earth is dead. Those that survived either set out on deep-space ships to look for a new planet or live on the many space colonies. For two hundred years the colonies have proven a remarkable success with humanity flourishing and conflict being kept to a minimum. That is until a stasis pod is opened down on Earth and a sleeping Paratwa agent is awoken. Known as the Liege-Killer, this entity is more than human and acts as the tool of a mysterious caste that was thought extinct. With the arrival of this assassin the structure of Earth and all her colonies are at stake.
Liege-Killer is the reissue of part one of the Paratwa Saga, a cult series from the 1980s. The structure has the feel of that era where large operatic science fiction painted tales at an epochal scale. However, the series has something to say in our modern world as gender and fluidity play a key role. The Paratwa are dual beings that have one mind in two bodies. These can be of either gender or a mix. To share two bodies, one male and one female is an intriguing idea, or what happens if one of the two bodies is killed, can the other survive without their other half?
As well as an interesting take on gender politics, Liege-Killer is also firmly a political book. The book is an ensemble of characters, some of which are every people, but others are policy makers. Large chunks of the book are set in the political arena were four people vote on the future of Earth and the Colonies. Rome is who we follow and believes in limiting technological advances lest humans repeat the mistakes that led to the end of Earth. His votes could change the future for every living being both alive and not yet born. It soon conspires that the Council’s decisions may be being manipulated.
To offset the big story elements, we also follow a mother and her son who are embroiled unwillingly in events. We also follow Nick and Gillian, two people woken from stasis to try and aid in the capture or killing of the Liege-Killer. These characters all give a fish-out-of-water viewpoint to the book and allow Hinz to explore the world through their eyes. There are many twists and turns in the book as the story progresses. It opens from a large story into an epic one. Nick and Gillian play their part in this.
The use of stasis to prolong a character's arc means that the series has that true epic range and feel. Nick and Gillian have already slept for years and have found themselves in a future they could not predict. The same can be said of the threat. Are the enemies thought dead actually in stasis awaiting a time to awaken and once again try to control the human race? It will be interesting to see what will happen over the series as book one starts off with large ideas and concludes with huge ones. A classic feeling space opera that fans of that vintage will enjoy.
Written on 2nd November 2021 by Sam Tyler .