cover image Hella


David Gerrold. Daw, $26 (448p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1657-7

Hugo and Nebula Award–winner Gerrold (The Martian Child) showcases his powerful storytelling skills with this outstanding tale of interstellar intrigue. Hella is a planet of extremes, so named because its oxygen-rich atmosphere causes everything from the trees to the leviathans that inhabit it to grow “hella big.” The barely self-sufficient human colonists who call Hella home flee its blistering summers and harsh arctic winters in a biannual migration. Among these colonists is Kyle, a neuroatypical 13-year-old with a chip implant meant to regulate his emotions. This brain chip, which he calls “the noise,” allows him direct access to the colony’s vast computer database of information. As the colony prepares for a new crop of colonists to arrive from the ravaged remnants of Earth, Kyle’s outsider status and special access to the database lands him in the middle of a political conflict that threatens the future of the struggling colony. The worldbuilding is masterful, with hard scientific explanations for Hella’s many abnormalities and rich descriptions sure to keep the attention of even the most casual reader. The effortlessly diverse cast, complex political machinations, and heartfelt coming-of-age themes combine to create a fleshed-out vision of the future that is intense, emotional, and immersive while still maintaining a sense of rollicking fun. Sci-fi readers should snap this up. [em](June) [/em]