Now, that say five times fast. You know what, it just ends up being gibberish, like most say-this-five-times-fast challenges, so don’t say it.
You guys know I like Hugh Howey. I tore through the Silo series in nothing flat and I really, really want it to be a television series, because I think it would be awesome as a television series, but I’m not in charge of who makes television series, so I can’t make that decision.
This book is another book by Hugh. It’s a science-fiction book, of course. This book is about a group of teenagers. They’re teenagers in one sense, but not in others. These teenagers were grown in tubes and educated by a very expansive artificial intelligence called Colony. The purpose of Colony is to incubate and educate around five-hundred people with different skill sets to set up colonies on other planets. Everything is already provided to these people and ideally they would be educated for twice as long as the unfortunates of this story are.
Porter, our main character, stumbles into awareness amidst fire and rain. Colony has stopped part-way through an abort measure. There are about fifty people alive out of over the four-hundred that the colony had started with. They all count each other. They determine who is ranked highest. They try to act like adults. They talk like adults. They’re educated like adults, but they’re still teenagers in body and somewhat in personality. Porter is the group’s psychologist, or he would have been had he completed his entire training. He knows he’s missing a lot, everybody is. Colony isn’t giving any answers as to why the abort measure was started and then stopped part-way through. The inhabitants of this strange planet find sleep where they can and begin the work Colony prescribes.
They’re building a rocket. People are getting antsy. It’s a miserable existence. One among them is killed only a few days after all of them awoke. Some suspect murder. Some suspect a slip. Nobody knows the real reason. The death shocks the group. They have a funeral. It isn’t long before things start going downhill. Porter suggest a boost in morale to Colony, but Colony doesn’t say what it intends to do. Porter and his friends, Tarsi and Kelvin, create a small group. They sleep together, actual sleep, work together, and eat together. They eat something they call bombfruit. It seems to rain out of nowhere and explodes on impact, but it’s edible.
A couple leaves the camp one day. Porter, Tarsi, and Kelvin want to leave as well. All the while Porter deals with conflicting emotions about his two friends Kelvin and Tarsi. The trio makes their break for it one night. They must cut a new hole in the wall surrounding their colony, but they make it and so do a small amount of other people. An entire group escapes, numbering about ten. They make their way to what looks like a very large tree, in fact, that’s what it turns out to be, but it’s the largest tree any of them could have ever imagined. It towers over a thousand feet in the air. They want to find the other couple who left. They find an arrow when they get to the tree. It points up. There is an up. The group follows it and finds something they never expected to find.
As more comes to light, the group realizes something strange about the force that raised them and educated them. It may not be the nurturing entity they thought it was.
What I liked
I’m going to be honest with you, I’m not usually into books set on other planets. I will read a science fiction book set on Earth in the distant future all day long, but start saying it’s on another planet and you’ve probably lost me. Hugh’s book is not bad as far as interplanetary living goes. He makes it believable. He gives a reason for these people to be on this strange planet and a plausible explanation as to how they got there.
Hugh always seems to have some sort of statement backing his novels. There is a statement in this novel. It’s a statement about valuing profit and money over life. Would someone really send five-hundred people to a far-off planet to murder them if the planet’s resources didn’t pay out? Do you even have to ask that question? There are definitely business moguls who would totally send you somewhere to die as long as they made a profit. They might not come out and admit, but they don’t care about you.
Hugh really seems to catch this idea and trend of worshiping the almighty profit over anything else. I also kind of sense that there may be a bit of a pro-life sentiment in the book, but it’s not something that was jumping out at me and screaming in my face.
What I didn’t like
I never really have too many complaints about Hugh’s books. The only thing I will say is that it’s on another planet, and as I mentioned before, I don’t really do other planets. I love Doctor Who to death, but put other planets in my life in any other context and I lose a lot of interest. My problem with other planets is that we don’t know about them. We can imagine life on other planets all day long, but on Earth, we have evolution, genetic inheritance, and world history. There is a certain way in which things develop. We don’t have trees that are two-thousand feet tall, the closest thing would be Redwoods, which get pretty darn close to being a thousand feet tall. We don’t have giant caterpillars. In fact, I watched this entire documentary all about how animals with exoskeletons could only get so big because of their body type and limitations breathing and so forth. The point in all of this is that some of these things simply aren’t possible through what we know of science, at least here on Earth, maybe on another planet creatures with exoskeletons could be gigantic.
Speaking of caterpillars, they’re only one stage in an insects life cycle. Are these giant caterpillars more like centipedes, which keep their shape, or are they more like true caterpillars, which eventually transform into flying insects? Are there giant-freaking butterflies and moths on this planet somewhere?
The entire time I was reading this book I was waiting for them to discover that they were just really tiny and were living in the grass with the bugs. Admit it, it’s a possibility.
I liked it, even if it was on another planet.
alien planet, caterpillars, colonists, colony, half way home, Half Way Home by Hugh Howey, hugh howey, kelvin, other planets, porter
Fiction, Howey-Hugh, Mystery, Romantic Fiction, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, Young Adult