I have been trying to figure out who to compare this book to – as unfair as it sometimes seems, drawing a parallel between one work and another at least has the benefit of quickly conveying to the reader what to expect – and was considering the latter half of the Harrington series by David Weber, only the main characters never leave Earth. Perhaps also MM Kaye, only the book is in no way about India. Finally, I realized it’s just a big book. Dense, full of character development and tons of detail. When I was younger, I would check out the fattest books in the library in hopes my stack of reading material would last me the week until I returned. Laura Montgomery’s The Sky Suspended makes me feel like I am back there, reading a big book.
It took me a little while to get into the book. The opening is rather stiff, with more showing than telling, making the pace a bit slow and occasionally confusing, forcing me to re-read sections. Beginning with chapter four, however, the pace picks up with the first message from the returning starship Aeneid. We the readers are, by now, following the entwined stories of Calvin, a junior lawyer, and his friends. Wound into their suave D.C. lives is the Alaskan intruder, Tri, a young man convinced that a lottery for colonists to the newly discovered planet will be held. He travels all the way to the capital despite there being no colony ship built to make that journey to the stars. Add into this mix Armothy Brewer, a missing and key witness in Calvin’s case of a sunburned dog, and the stage is set.
Some things in this near future setting have not changed, like expensed lunches. Others, like the genetically inhanced humans, have radically altered in appearance, but not, thanks to the newly formed Department of the Soul, in essence.
The Aeneid, the youthful and observant Tri, and the probationary lawyers, not to mention the solar-singed dog, are all headed for a cosmic collision of truly bureaucratic proportions. Be patient with the opening, and Mongomery’s complex plot will start to gel as she brings you toward a climax under the sky suspended and about to fall on our young heroes. When the future of star travel hangs on a patent no-one knows who holds legally, you bring in the lawyers. And you hope those lawyers are young and flexible enough to have imagination and dreams of the stars.
Next week I will review a gloriously fun space opera, Chaos Quarter by David Welch.