cover image The Ninth Metal

The Ninth Metal

Benjamin Percy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $15.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-328-54486-5

Percy (The Dark Net) launches the Comet Cycle series with this wildly entertaining and highly original melange of northern Minnesota lore and slam-bang near-future SF action. A year after the comet Cain passed near Earth, the planet spun into a welter of comet debris and the world changed forever—but human greed did not. The debris spawned energy-rich “omnimetal,” attracting a strange, apocalyptic cult that worships the substance and a gold-rush-style economic boom in Northfall, Minn. The influx of outsiders consider the locals “flannel-wearing loon-loving Lutherans” to be taken advantage of in an all-out war between the locally founded Frontier mining corporation and Texas-based Black Dog Energy, both pursuing control of the town’s rich omnimetal sites. Against this backdrop, Percy’s hero, John Frontier, transformed Superman-wise by immersion in omnimetal debris, sets about redeeming a prodigal youth by beating himself into someone new: a knight-errant bent on atonement. Percy’s dead-on local color, strong central characters, and well-integrated flashbacks into the making of a modern samurai will delight and entertain both comics fans and serious science fiction readers. This is an impressive series starter. [em]Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (June) [/em]