From Publishers Weekly
Buckell returns to the universe of Crystal Rain
(2006) and Ragamuffin
(2007) for another action-packed story of human colonists fighting to survive on an alien world with all the odds against them. The story bounces between two protagonists: teenage Timas, one of the few inhabitants of the floating spherical city of Yatapek who can maintain the enormous mining machine that harvests ore from the furnace-hot surface of Venus-like Chilo, and Pepper, aka Juan Smith, an elite Ragamuffin soldier from New Anegada who'd prefer to forget about his violent past. As the only survivor of a ship infected with a virus that turns people into murderous zombie slaves of the alien Swarm, the last thing Pepper wants is another fight, but with the Swarm making inroads on Chilo, he has little choice. Buckell delivers double helpings of action and violence in a plot-driven story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. (Aug.)
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Chilo is a world of high pressure, intense heat, and acidic rain, in which domed cities float above the clouds, where the pressure and temperature are survivable. Timas, 14, supports his family by going down to the surface in one of the few remaining groundsuits to repair the mining head vital to the city’s survival. When Timas’ city is damaged by a messenger crashing into it, everything he knew is turned upside down. The crasher, Pepper, who survives, alerts Chilo to approaching zombie invaders. Then the high-tech Aeolians send Katerina to demand that Pepper be turned over to them for trial on charges of destroying a starship. But something is hidden on Chilo’s surface that is worth starting a war for. Timas, Katerina, and Pepper must lead the struggle to survive the invasion, and in the process all undergo unexpected changes and learn the true extent of their capabilities. Buckell’s world building, full of strong Aztec and Caribbean elements, is spectacular; the story, finely tuned and engrossing. --Regina Schroeder