Angel Stations: artifacts found around the galaxy that permit faster than light travel between them by travelling through the singularity it creates. These ancient structures were created by the Angels, a long gone race that have left many other interesting things throughout the stars. One of the Angel Stations is found in the oort cloud of our system and allows humanity to travel to other stations that are discovered.
Through these gateways another sentient race is discover on the planet Kasper, a dog-like race that is still in it’s iron age. It is on this planet that the Citadel is discovered, a vast Angel built structure that has many, many secrets. However, with the discovery by some that a deadly radiation front is coming out from the centre of the galaxy, the Citadel could hold the answer to stopping it before it wipes out Kasper’s inhabitants.
Kim is a pilot, travelling around the outer Kaspian system in her Goblin making a living any way she can. Troubled by her past, when she was the leader of an expedition to the Citadel and a terrible accident occurred, one that she still blames herself for. Her lover, Susan, was lost in this accident and Kim now re-lives the memories that Susan recorded. Susan was an observer, making recordings onto ‘books’, a way for others to experience what she does.
Eilias is an ex-soldier, one that volunteered for genetic experiments to be performed on him using Angel information that was discovered. He can sometimes see the future, although not very clearly. He is pursuing Trencher, an old friend whose precognitive abilities are by far the most powerful known. Trencher is also the result of experiments, but experiments that were performed on his unborn embryo, along with his two brothers.
Ursu is a native Kaspian, a member of one of their churches who worship the god Shecumpeh and treasure an antique statue believing it houses the god. When the emperor of the biggest nation on Kasper starts tracking down the gods of each of the churches, believing he can fulfill a legend, Ursu must escape with the antique and ensure it never falls into the hands of the emperor. He begins a journey, unknowing to him it is one that could save his planet.
This is Gary Gibson’s first published novel, and it includes some very big ideas. What I’ve mentioned above is only a brief description of the overall story, it contains many more threads and subplots, each of which all join together as the story progresses. The characters are quite well developed, but there is always that feeling of wanting a little more developement, perhaps a little more back story on some of the characters, although this doesn’t spoil the novel by any means.
On the whole, this is a very enjoyable read, although I found the early sections to be a little lacking, especially the ones about Ursu, our native Kaspian. The general feel of the book was slightly uneven and it never really got to the point where I couldn’t put it down, although it was getting much better in the last third. Perhaps my thoughts of the first half of the book are partly my fault for reading it over such a long period of time (2 months) during lunch breaks and such where I only ever got to read short sections in one go, whereas the last part I managed over only a handful of days when I managed to get some much needed free time.
In general, what I’ve read in Angel Stations will encourage me to go on and read both Against Gravity and Stealing Light (which I’ve heard some particularly good things about). Although this isn’t quite up there with the big selling space operas, Gary has certainly shown that that’s where he’s aiming for and if he carries on the way he’s started he’ll be there in no time.