Sunday, April 20, 2014
The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
If you like: alien technology * Wool * takeovers
The Darwin Elevator takes place in a world that has seen the introduction of alien technology, and withstood widespread disease that reverts people to subhumans. Years earlier, a space elevator was delivered and constructed in Darwin, Australia by unknown aliens. They have not made direct contact, and their purposes are yet to be revealed. With much promise held within, industry built up around and within the Elevator. Years later, after disease spread across the world, it was discovered that living within or near the Elevator offered a temporary immunity. Now, the immunity is beginning to waver, just as a new object is discovered to be heading towards Earth.
Life near the Elevator is difficult. Without being able to utilize the resources that were abandoned when disaster struck, and only having a small footprint of space in which to live, has made it impossible for people to thrive. Those who live in the Elevator are privileged. Though they seek to understand the technology and the illness, those left in squalor on the ground can’t help but resent their lofty place. There are those who venture outside of the Elevator’s aura, either in a protective suit or the very few who are lucky enough to be immune to the mysterious illness, to seek out abandoned resources. They are scavengers who have the potential for great rewards if they can secure much needed goods or technology, but also face incredible danger. Being stranded away from the Elevator risks being overrun by the wild subhumans. The chance to rise up out of the squalor is far too irresistible for those who are able to venture out not to try. The thrill of seeking out that which is lost, and finding treasures that have immeasurable value in the new world provides the kind of adrenaline rush that appeals to many of the skilled and able-bodied individuals. The Melville is one of these scavenging ships, and the crew who use it are all immunes. This gives them a essence of invincibility, and helps them to get the best jobs because they can go out faster and longer than those who must traverse in bulky suits. This attention is not all beneficial, and those who cannot do what they can seek to gain power over them in other ways.
In The Darwin Elevator, society revolves around a piece of alien technology. No one knows how the Elevator was crafted, or why. What purpose could those who sent it have? There are some who seem to be in the best position to utilize the benefits, particularly Neil Platz. His family owned the area around the Elevator before it descended. Though this first seemed like kismet, many begin to believe that Platz knows more than he is letting on. He has many suspicions about what else the Builders may have in store for Earth, and is secure in his belief that contact from them is not finished. Living in a world where protection is provided by an unknowable force is stressful. Should anything happen to the Elevator, there is no one who could fix it. As power begins to fluctuate, it creates increasing worry in the general population. If the only safe place breaks down, humanity’s end will have arrived. With the vast disparity of resources, many believe that any changes to the status of the Elevator to be a power play by those in charge, and it only feeds the unrest. Trying to discern the motives of the Builders and what the next steps will be could make the person who finds the answer incredibly rich and powerful. One can only hope that a group with intentions for the greater good will be in a position of power when the next phase happens. If not, the subhumans may not be the worst kind of people on the planet. A power crazed dictator in charge of the only life-force available could result in the most deplorable violations of human rights and dignity for those who are outside the dictator’s graces. The battle between those who seek to benefit everyone and those who seek the power for themselves will result in the winner holding the future in their hands.
If you have been feeling a little strange lately, read The Darwin Elevator.
Hough, Jason M. The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle). Random House Publishing Group, 2013. Kindle Edition.