By Hylton H Smith
Renewal is a stand alone novel set after the events of the Darwinian Extension series by by the science fiction author Hylton H Smith.
Phoenix is a colossal space vessel, built in the Mars Docks by three races (The Axis, Symbiants and Sapients), it's the size of a city and is currently in it's 43rd year of the journey to the 55 Cancri system. The three different species are living aboard the ship on their way to the Axis original home planet Nexus. On arrival the Axis are shocked to find that the planet is nothing like the home they remember and their people are not even the dominant life forms. Although the planet itself appears stable, this stability isn't one caused by nature, a fact that could have serious repercussions for all three races.
Back on Earth, tensions are rising with the Mars colonists and war seems imminent. A more sinister threat is subtly rising on the red planet though, and the Martian colonists are completely unaware of the very real danger they face.
Renewal is a very well written and intelligent novel and works well as a follow on to "The Darwinian Extension" series and also as a stand alone novel (although I do recommend reading the trilogy).
It seems a long journey since I first heard of the elusive Progenitors and this novel finally reveals them and answers many questions raised in the previous novels (and yes it was worth the wait). If you have ever wanted a more definative answer to the questions raised by Clarke in his Odyssey series then this book is for you.
The plot itself is a little "softer" than "The Darwinian Extension", although still very much "hard" science fiction, there is a greater flow and an underlying sense that much has been explained in detail before, allowing a fast flowing narrative that both engages and hooks the reader into the story.
There is a real sense of the epic running through the story, the grand sweeping ideas that authors like Asimov, Clarke, Hamilton and others achieve, Renewal really doesn't hold back. I especially love the way that the other indigenous life forms - the Ebexx have managed to become the dominant life on the planet Nexus, without giving too much away the idea is excellent. As with many good ideas this one exists in nature, making it all the more believable. It's also good to see my old friends are back, Alex 2 and irrepressible Carvalho, along with a whole host of new characters. The novels protagonists are very well fleshed out, believable and more human for the fact that most of them aren't (if that makes sense).
A grand, impressive story told well, Renewal should be high up on any Science Fiction readers list.
Written on 27th August 2010 by Ant .