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Debris Dreams (Lunar Cycle) Paperback – November 8, 2016
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The Amazon Book Review
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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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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.
Dru and her fellow apprentices are conscripted, given basic army training in low gravity, and when she shows promise with a rifle Dru is trained as a sharpshooter. For relaxation she writes mails to her girlfriend Sarah far below on Earth. She gets fitted with a skin-tight smart space suit, learns about tactics and eats algae. But civil unrest and police actions are in the news, and the loss of the lunar mines is causing economic chaos. Dru's team is sent to steal a freighter of supplies from the Loonies. Not all lunar citizens are supportive of the terrorists, but battle is brutal, especially in vacuum where everything spins wildly and a blast of sand can blow a suit apart. Surviving, Dru is made a corporal, but her challenges are only beginning.
In DEBRIS DREAMS the jargon and descriptions are good, especially the delicious sensory experience of showering in zero g, but reference is made to L1, L2, L3 etc. the Lagrangian points; a little astrophysics at the time instead of in a glossary wouldn't have hurt. The tale came across to me as a blend of 'Starship Troopers', 'Green Mars' and 'The Forever War'. Dru happens to be gay, but in wartime there isn't much chance for a relationship. The deaths by being flashboiled or impacting a fast-floating screw are unpleasant while communication difficulties mean that there isn't always a clear chain of command. A Chinese-American alliance has emerged to get us into space, but other social events such as Texas nuking imagined enemies are less easy to swallow. David Colby has given us a hard-graft tale full of realism and unpleasantness but friendship and bravery as well. This won't suit every young person and having read it, it won't be easy to forget.