Abaddon Books, 2012, 271p.
Ed Carew operates outside the confines of the oppressive human civilisation of the Expansion. In search of a valuable artefact Carew, together with his companions Lania Takiomar and Jed Neffard, entered the forbidden space occupied by the aliens known as the Vetch (who had invaded Carew’s home world when he was a child and killed his family.) On returning to human space the trio is captured by Expansion forces, tried and sentenced to death. A reprieve is offered them if they will undertake to travel across Vetch space to a star system near the astronomical phenomenon known as the Devil’s Nebula.
Meanwhile on a planet called World a young girl called Maatja has grown to mistrust the Weird who took control of the lives of the humans who settled there a few generations before.
Until these two strands merge (World is of course the planet to which Carew and his companions are bound) the sections on World are less compelling, sketched economically but not really fleshed out. Unsurprising as the plot is not principally concerned with World but rather the effect the Weird may have on wider human society.
Had I not known who wrote this I could have guessed the author. Many of Brown’s signature preoccupations and SF elements appear – telepaths, strange but understandable aliens, a character who is perhaps too reserved for his own good – though not here, religion. There is too a sort of Brownian slant to the prose.
The front cover interposes “Weird Space” between the author’s name and the book title suggesting a series is in prospect. The final chapter does indeed open up the possibility of more books in this universe.