Review: Helix Wars / Author: Eric Brown / Publisher: Solaris Books / Release Date: Out Now
Helix Wars is Eric Brown’s follow up to the clever and easygoing Helix, a fun sci-fi romp that used big ideas as a back-drop to a rather pedestrian but thoroughly enjoyable adventure. In the first book, Mankind stumbled upon and colonised a world that was part of a helix shaped chain of planets. Countless alien races lived upon the chain, and it explored man’s place in this system. Helix Wars is set a couple of hundred years after the events of the first book, and works reasonably well as a standalone tale.
Despite the name, the main plot isn’t really about a war as such, but then Helix: Critical events in interplanetary relations that lead to violent conflict wouldn’t fit on the page as well. The plot follows the misfortune of a human shuttle pilot who get’s wrapped up in another alien race’s expansionist ambitions, and with the assistance of some other aliens, tries to survive, all the while being hunted by the more violent aliens. This is not a sweeping war epic, but it is a strong character focused adventure that will keep you entertained on a long journey.
Eric Brown has a distinctive and easygoing style that always makes his novels a pleasure to read, and finds the balance between making his aliens strange enough to appear otherworldly, and at the same time giving the reader enough cues so they can relate to them. Epic and personal at the same time, Brown knows how to give the impression of depth, and how to create just enough setting to give the story scope and engagement.
Light, easy flowing and yet packed with high-concepts, Helix Wars is a solid sci-fi novel that would appeal to fans of straight forward pulp action. If you’ve a hankering for something that mixes the cultural clashing of Riverworld with the modern sci-fi sensibility of Mass Effect, then this is for you.