by Joe Stech
J.D. Moyer has put together a wonderfully entertaining debut novel in the genre of 'technologically advanced humans meet regressed iron-age humans'. Car-En is an anthropologist who was born and raised on a ringstation — a spinning artificial satellite orbiting the earth. She is dispatched to the ground below to study the culture of a Viking-like village in the Harz mountains. In the book, all human cultures have regressed technologically due to a variety of natural, political, and economic disasters over the course of several hundred years, while people in the ringstations orbiting above have advanced their technology base. Car-En finds that she wants to help the villagers that she's studying, in direct violation of ringstation policies. There's also a fun secondary storyline involving a simulation happening inside a quantum computer, but to say anything more on that would be a serious spoiler.
Things I didn't like:
There wasn't much to dislike here. Time jumps ahead several times unexpectedly, which pulled me out of the story a little bit. Also, the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger. I was left with quite a few questions, which will hopefully be addressed in a sequel.
Things I liked:
The whole thing felt like a big, fun adventure. It's not often that you get fantasy-style storytelling and good, plausible science fiction in the same package. I especially enjoyed the effort that was made to convince the reader that the 'extinction below, advancement above' scenario could actually happen. It's a pretty huge stretch, but the author really goes the extra mile to detail how things could have gone down. The secondary 'quantum computer' storyline was pretty far out there, but it was as entertaining as the rest.
This is definitely a novel I recommend picking up. You can find it here: The Sky Woman (As an Amazon Associate Compelling Science Fiction can earn a small amount from qualifying purchases). As always, I did not receive any incentives (financial or otherwise) to review this book; however, I did receive the novel as an electronic ARC from the publisher. Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that J.D. Moyer has had one story published here in Compelling Science Fiction — you can read it here: Targeted Behavior.
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