cover image Rubicon


J.S. Dewes. Tor, $19.99 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-1-250-85123-9

Dewes (the Divide series) continues to demonstrate a gift for superior hard sci-fi with a standalone outing that is simultaneously thoughtful and pulse-pounding. In the far future, humanity has found a home on the planet of Estes. But the star that enables life on Estes is dying, making the search for another survivable system essential. That mission is complicated by the Mechans, intelligent machines determined to wipe out humanity. Specialist Adriene Valero is introduced while she and her entire command are dying in a battle with the Mechans—only to be revived in the following chapter. All have been equipped with revolutionary technology that enables the dead to be restored to life in a new body, which, at the book’s opening, has already happened to Valero more than 90 times. This tech has obvious advantages in the struggle against the ultra-powerful Mechans, but Dewes cleverly thinks through all its implications: military tactics are influenced by the apparent ease with which skilled soldiers can be recycled, but what is the psychic impact of so many revivals on the surviving minds? The stakes are further raised for Valero when her AI implant, Rubicon, develops sentience, leading to further complications in the ongoing war. Fans of smart military sci-fi will be riveted. (Mar.)