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Debris Dreams (Lunar Cycle) Paperback – November 8, 2016
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Publishers Weekly Drusilla Xao, a girl raised on a space station, lives in a in a time where the crowded Earth must mine resources from asteroids and the moon. When the Moon secedes from Earth with an act of violent terrorism to an elevator rising into the stratosphere, Drusilla loses her parents and is conscripted into the oncoming war. Originally hailed as a hero for standing up to injustice, she finds herself accused of treason instead after refusing her general's criminal order. Carefully lulling readers into false complacency, Colby devotes much of the book to Drusilla's life and training as she bonds with her fellow recruits - normal adolescents obsessed with sex and personal squabbles. Drusilla herself, meanwhile, pines for her long distance girlfriend Sarah on far away Earth, who she may never see again. This makes it all the more shocking when they're ordered to commit a war crime using vicious illegal weapons, and some of her friends agree. Appealingly reminiscent of an updated Heinlein juvenile, it's a story of wartime bravery, principles and self-sacrifice.
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Top Customer Reviews
The flow of the story and action was well paced. I especially like the SciFi concepts like the elevator and idea of skin suits. A fun read for any SciFi fan.
Probably the biggest downside for me was the pacing: a good chunk of the book is taken up by a detailed play-by-play of the main character's military training. In a movie, this would have been covered by a five-minute montage before getting on to the action. Instead we're treated to the overdone boot camp trope (Yelling Guy calls them "maggots," and is callously unfair; everyone is miserable and sweats a lot). I would have liked to see more of the action at the end of the book -- especially the parts dealing with the space station's AI which has its own code of conduct. And there's such potential to do more Home Alone creativity against the invaders breaking into the station.
On the plus side, there are some good bits of future tech, and respectable attention to details that wouldn't necessarily occur to me (like how the space suits' built-in toilet functions worked). I liked the inclusion of a space elevator instead of just zippy little ships. I liked the effort put into the development of the cultural/political landscape of the future. I liked the attention to how zero-gravity could be both useful and disorienting. I liked that AI.
But the things I disliked were unfortunately more memorable. The book had promise, but I found it a letdown. Hopefully future efforts by the writer will live up to their potential a little more.
The Lunar Separatist Movement destroys the space elevator, killing Drusilla Xao's parents, stranding her on a space station, and dampening Dru's relationship with a girl on Earth named Sarah. The Chinese-American Alliance responds with a declaration of war against the LSM. This causes Dru to be conscripted into the Space Marines, which leads to standard scenes of military training led by a bullying drill sergeant, as well as discussions of strategy and tactics that are somewhat reminiscent of (if considerably less compelling than) those in Ender's Game. Training is followed by the first mission, giving Dru a chance to face her fears and be heroic. The war involves CAA forces and LSM forces shooting at each other through a debris field, unless you count Texas, which seems to be at war with the rest of America (as always).
Dru is an inexperienced lipstick lesbian who has a lipstick lesbian girlfriend on Earth, although they have never met in person. This gives Dru an excuse to compose anguished emails that Colby probably hoped would flesh out Dru's personality while creating an opportunity for the kind of expository writing that fills in background. Dru (or perhaps Colby) has a sophomoric obsession with sex, particularly of the lesbian variety. When a team member dies, Dru mentally composes his memorial, beginning with "He never turned down sex." That just makes him a teenage boy, not a hero, but sex seems to be all Dru can think about, perhaps because she never has any. Other than her sex-obsessed thoughts, however, there's nothing interesting or unique about Dru: she's the standard reluctant hero, thrust into a world she never made. The other characters have no personality at all.
The most interesting aspect of the plot focuses on a moral dilemma involving a potential war crime. It didn't strike me as much of a dilemma (or much of a crime), and the likelihood of the General who orders it thinking he could get away with it (and thus actually issuing the order) is nil. Dru's response to the illegal order is ridiculously self-righteous, but she's a teen and teens are always getting self-righteous so that, at least, rang true. Also interesting is the notion of the debris field, based on the Kessler Syndrome. Using the debris field as a backdrop is the story's most original touch. The rest of the novel tends to be standard (and unconvincing) military sf. The battle scenes are all pretty much alike; none are so powerfully written as to convey the adrenalin-rush of true combat. Maybe military sf junkies will get a kick out of Debris Dreams and find value in its carefully developed setting, but the absence of compelling characters and sharper writing prevent me from recommending it to most sf fans.