~ 600 words
About the Author:
Graduated from King’s College London longer ago than seems possible, and went on to work in kid’s TV for over 10 years making promos for Disney and Cartoon Network. Perhaps as an antidote he writes gritty, epic science fiction; forever his first love.
Surviving his ongoing obsession with fast motorbikes and flirtation with the underrated virtual worlds of videogames, he somehow found time to put to paper his long-gestating scifi epic. Influenced by the great space opera of Peter F Hamilton and Yokinobu Hoshino, as well as a lifetime of digesting the classics of Greg Bear and Arthur C Clarke, he lives and breathes SciFi in all its forms.
He lives in London with his awesome cat.
Particle Horizon is about a final, deciding clash between the Union of the Free Worlds (UFW) and the Legion of Light. UFW is the dominant Human empire in the setting; its defining traits are its high level of technology and its break from all religion. Legion of Light is a state founded on the notion of a single God—the Lightbringer— being the only guiding light for mankind.
The two states come to a clash on the world of Angelhaven, which is a large asteroidal colony of weapons manufacturers and miners. The novel is told from the viewpoints of a several key characters and that really makes the conflict between the UFW and the Legion come alive.
I loved each and every one of the characters: the kids – Iolana and her brother Keoni –, the unwilling Legion soldier Aja, the android Una and her alter-ego Eve, the elite UFW soldier Xavier, and a number of others. Each of them struck a chord because they were all realistic and believable with real motivations. This is one of the things where the author has really excelled at. His characters live and breathe with the narrative and they show off a slice of the world that he has created.
Each character brings something different to the narrative and through them we really see the full scope of the war. Added to that are several philosophical, existential issues that are raised in the novel. One of these is: how different are androids from humans? For fans of Star Trek this will be quite familiar with all the personal conflicts that Data goes through in The Next Generation and in the movies. Selso Xisto does a great job of exploring this concept and this is also resolved in a really neat way at the end of the novel. Quite an emotional moment as well, just as much as the end of Star Trek: Resurrection.
While some people may be put off by large cast of characters, this is something that I really do enjoy. Following a single character can be really tedious, unless it’s written well. Going the opposite route makes the entire experience more wholesome, especially in SF/F settings. If nothing else, read Particle Horizon for the variety of its characters.
Angelhaven, the place where the majority of the action in the novel takes place, is also a very unique and interesting location. If you take a look at that cover again, you see why. The colonists have installed special gravity tubes throughout the asteroid that serve to provide places where people can fly about thanks to a special jetpack harness. Now, how cool is that? Its like skateboarding of the future, except much more interesting and thrilling.
The pacing of the novel is mostly on the money although it does drop off a few times. However the novel doesn’t slow down much. The author has a good, consistent balance between offering edge-of-the-seat action scenes and scenes where the action isn’t physical, but conversational. There is a strong undercurrent of tension throughout Particle Horizon. Each chapter ends on a great cliffhanger and you have to turn the pages to read what is going to happen next to the characters.
Selso Xisto highlights the technological difference between the UFW and the Legion and there is lots of variety to these as well. Whether it is soldiers engaged in gunfights or hand-to-hand, or kids wearing jetpacks and carrying rifles, or androids duking it out with each other, the action in the novel has something for almost everybody.
So overall, I have to say that I really liked Selso Xisto’s debut novel. It kept me entertained and interested throughout and there was never a dull moment. It is also a novel that goes beyond just being an SF novel. It raises philosophical and existential questions. Lots of food for thought.
Reviewer Bio: Long-time science-fiction/fantasy geek, and lover of most things Star Wars and Warhammer, Abhinav Jain is currently working on several SFF fiction projects. At the moment, in addition to a 14-hr day job, He is also a senior reviewer for The Founding Fields book blog and a contributor to the Just Beyond Infinity mixed-content blog. You can follow him on twitter – @abhinavjain87. This review was originally published here.