Finished Fortress on the Sun
by Paul Cook
, which was another of Phoenix Pick's former Free Book of the Month selections, and have decided to get at least 1 other Cook book during their 50% off with coupon sale
on the strength of it.
This was a surprisingly good hard sf tale about a futuristic prison camp of the sort that Terence M. Green
had a character muse would be a good thing
in his Barking Dogs
Only this one shows how having prisoners stripped of their libido, their memories, and sent away to an unescapable place below the surface of the sun to fend for themselves to live and die on their own terms with only a basic supply of materials to use and automatic execution for anyone who tried to leave can go horribly, terribly, wrong.
Especially when all may not be what it seems on the "outside" and thus also "inside" people are beginning to have their doubts about what the authorities really are trying to do with them, given that none of them have any memory of what they actually did, only a recorded sentence pronouncement for the category of crime they committed to be sent there, and the inmates are beginning to sicken from a mysterious ailment which may or may not have been brought in by the latest batch of condemnees or might perhaps have been a ticking time-bomb embedded all along.
A rather good sf/mystery/thriller which did a good job of showing how the futuristic setup worked and came to be, while also presenting a rather interesting whatdunnit to unravel, which it does in a mildly unexpected, but story-congruent way.
Moderate-highish recommend for people who like their mystery and sf mingled with a touch of exploring society building and concepts of justice that high tech might make capable.
Now moved on to Stephen Leigh
's Dark Water's Embrace
(another former freebie) about an alien archaeological discovery on an frontier-type of colony world might change everything. Interesting so far regarding forging new social structures and gender roles on a new world (or reverting to old ones under pressure) and I've already determined to buy the sequel during the sale. Includes the author's drawings and notes, which is always a nice bonus to have.