Half Way Home by Hugh Howey
 

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

Half Way Home is Lord of the Flies in space. I'm on a Hugh Howey-roll here, and like the two previous books, Hugh wins the battles but loses the war. I don't care. I never expected him to do anything else, and for $6, I don't expect more than that.

Half Way Home

Half Way Home
Hugh Howey

ISBN: 0982611935
Broad Reach Publishing, 2010
English

Lord of the Flies, in space. The story has a fascinating introduction, but the strength of it is wasted on a story that doesn't live up to the promises made at the beginning. (2/5)

I bought this book for its premise. Not the formulaic story of a bunch of kids that degenerate to oppressive anarchy before figuring out democratic government and that it is ok to be gay. Not the "dark secret" that the blurb promises, because as I expected, it is only dark because it's pulled from a place where the sun never shines. I bought it for the background. Well, part of the background.

The idea of interstellar colonization ships being loaded with blastocysts (fertilized human eggs, more or less), travelling for hundreds of years before making landfall and being raised by robots seemed to me to be a premise that gave the story something SF stories often lack: Space. By this I don't mean lack of being in space, because SF is almost always there, but the sense of distance. With a faster-than-light drive, a remote galaxy is as close as the next door neighbor. This lets the characters zip around easily and the author to get on with more interesting topics, but destroys the incredible sense of just how vast space is.

Hugh manages to carry it off very well in the first chapter. The description of how a colony is founded, the risks and the role of the accompanying AI gives a great view into a slow process of expansion where each step takes many lifetimes. Unfortunately it all goes very Lord of the Flies after that. As in, "I've read this book before". The ending manages to salvage a lot, and actually does explain the "mystery" - just not in a way that fits within my suspension of disbelief. It is, however, like most of Hugh Howey's writing, a treat to read here and there.