Blast off into orbit once again with Kaleb Hugo and Ezekiel Webb!
It is a few years since Lunar Independence League's rebellion against the Service was defeated, taking the Zero and everything she stood for with it. Her former captain, Kaleb Hugo, set himself on a new path and a lot has changed under his watch. And yet, not enough. Despite everything, circumstances will drive Hugo back to an underworld full of fears he thought he'd left behind.
Ghosts of pain, betrayal and guilt haunt Hugo after the shocking and brutal torture of the woman he loves, forcing him to seek out his ex-commander from the Zero, Ezekiel Webb, to help him get revenge. Together they must gain entry to Haven, an off-world colony where those with nothing left to lose end up, but where the answers they need are hidden.
But Haven is a place with its own rules. Rules which are harsh, brutal and unforgiving.
On the edge of Service-controlled space and outside the boundaries of civilised society, Hugo and Webb will come face to face with enemies old and new, and once again will have to fight to save their own skins as well as secure what they need to deliver justice. Will they prevail against all the odds stacked against them, when sometimes their own worst enemies are themselves?
About the Author
J. S. Collyer has written stories since she was old enough to hold a pen and began reading obsessively when she discovered Star Wars and science fiction in secondary school. She went on to study literature and creative writing up to Master of Arts level at Lancaster University.
After graduating with her MA in 2008 she has stayed in Lancaster with her partner and has written consistently since.
She has always had a taste for narratives that are larger than life and science fiction delivers what she needs. But, though it’s true she likes spaceships, lasers and moon rocks, she also likes humanity, sincerity and relating to her characters. They may live on the moon, but they’re real and she is committed to creating human narratives albeit usually with a super-human backdrop.
[Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book from the author. J.S. Collyer is both a friend and colleague, and our work has appeared together in the anthology, No Way Home.]
When I read J.S. Collyer's debut, Zero, last year, I was rather impressed with that fun little space romp. There was a great sense of depth to the narrative, despite keeping things fairly local for a space opera, operating in the orbit of Earth and its moon colonies. The greatest strength, though, were the characters and their interpersonal relationships, particularly between Ezekiel Webb and his captain, Kaleb Hugo.
That same strength provides a very solid backbone to the narrative in Haven, as Collyer gives the friendship between these two men and battle-hardened brothers-in-arms further depth. The men have been separated for three years following the events of the previous novel, but find themselves reunited following an assault on their mutual acquaintance, Marilyn Harvey. To take it one step further, the man responsible for hospitalizing Harvey and prompting the miscarriage of her and Hugo's child, is also the same man who spent a fair amount of time torturing Webb in the prior novel.
Hugo wants him captured and brought to trial; Webb, naturally, wants him dead. Their hunt for this villain takes them to the orbital colony of Haven, an insular factory town if ever there was one, ruled by a council of Elders with very strict governance and harsh penalties for those who dare break the law.
I was a bit surprised to discover how small-scale Haven was, in comparison to its predecessor. Where Zero was rife with intrigue and missions that took its cast to various locales, Haven concerns itself with staying fairly tied down to a central location. The tendency in sequels is to go wider and bigger, so I appreciate Collyer's restraint in keeping the focus on both her characters and setting more intimate. There's a great bit of world-building on display here, and Haven ends up feeling like a real and well-lived-in place that I was able to buy into fully.
It helps, too, that this colony also has very personal connections to Webb. And it's those connections that help inform how Webb and Hugo relate to one another this time around. Hugo is very much a fish out of water here, and it prompts a fair amount of head-butting between the two. Even better, though, is the insight we get into Webb as we become privy to a bit more of his history.
While there's a good dose of action throughout, the focus, rightly, is on the characters first and foremost. Collyer does a terrific job reintroducing and refining our two male leads, but still injects enough whizz-bang heroics and a nicely bloody finish to satisfy. At this point, catching up with these two guys feels like hanging out with a couple old friends reminiscing over lost time. I'm looking forward to catching up with them again soon.