Once in a while, I like to dive back into a good science-fiction novel. Sci-fi used to be a staple of my reading diet back in high school where anything as far away as possible from the mundane, restricted world I lived in (home, school, the suburban town I lived in). Over time, other genres have displaced sci-fi but I will still gladly pick one up once in a while.
In Freenet, human beings from Earth have travelled to different parts of the universe and have set up colonies connected to each other through wormhole portals. In a remote corner of the universe, a young woman, Simara, seeks to escape from a lecherous stepfather by boarding a space capsule that she crashes on a desert planet called Bali.
Much of what follows is the classic stuff from space travel fiction: encounter with locals, learning about lifestyles and culture, dealing with misunderstandings, exploring the technological possibilities of escaping from an unwanted situation. For Simara and Zen, who rescued her from the crash, this also results in romantic entanglement.
A complication occurs when Simara is accused of murdering her stepfather. She is arrested and put on board a space ship travelling to another planet where she will be judged. Zen finds a way to follow her on this journey and is instrumental in proving her innocence.
Another complication more seriously affect their relationship: Simara is an omnidroid, a human with brain implants who is in constant interaction with an information network, with an incredible capacity for information processing. The omnidroids, a very small group of “freaks”, are under attack…
What distinguishes this book is the author’s tongue-in-cheek approach. It starts with the name of the desert planet, Bali… and it continues with descriptions of locations and scenes which make the novel nearly a satirical version of sci-fi/speculative fiction. However, this does not detract from the tension building as difficulties pile up for Simara and Zen, and I was captivated right until the end.
This book will be published April 12, 2016. Thanks to ECW Press and NetGalley for access to a review copy.
Stanton, Steve. Freenet. ECW Press, Toronto, ON, 2016.