A hollow sphere nearly as large as the Earth appears in orbit around Jupiter. Humans have occupied the inside of the sphere and found the Nefra – a race of humans removed from Earth thousands of years ago. It’s hard to tell Nefra from humans because Nefra keep their tails hidden. I love this detail, since I always felt cheated by my lack of a tail.
Review – No Spoilers
First Contact is in the past and Brian Henry Dingle’s book is a world-building tale. He has a fascinating, hard-science-fiction view of a world built inside a sphere that rotates fast enough to create near-Earth gravity on the inner equator while leaving a structure – the Carousel – in the center in zero-g. Zero-g offers advantages to severely injured patients and the Carousel includes a hospital for burn and trauma cases. Dingle is a medical doctor and his knowledge is evident throughout the story – for example, “tears filled his eyes and shined over his sclera.”
The story takes place in the Carousel and on the sphere’s inner surface, with some action in space, orbiting Jupiter.
The book opens with a murder framed by a sort of prologue of police reports and interviews. Dingle has a strong vision and his gritty world is detailed. For example, sunlight is channeled through the sphere’s wall with quartz fibers – what a cool idea – and the sphere’s thick walls are mined for metals and carved into infrastructure. Dingle sometimes repeats his descriptions, as one character notices: “‘God, you’re repeating yourself.’ Calamnos said. ‘Because you need to know.'”
This is a nasty, dirty, dimly-lit world. Plastic pre-fab buildings brought from Earth are “variegated pukey pink.” Many inhabitants are pitiful -or despicable. Trojan is rife with drug addicts and criminal gangs.
Drunks and addicts are targets for murder. A couple police detectives begin to track percular attacks and the latest victim survives – barely. But the situation becomes more complicated as various factions, humans and Nefra, collide. Philosophy joins drugs and murder in the story.
Be warned that Dingle’s descriptions are vivid and intense in fight, torture, and hospital scenes.
Dingle sometimes repeats himself, but as a mixture of scifi world-building with mean streets, this is a four-star story.