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Erik A. Otto
Author, Illustrator
Falcon Fire
Erik A. Otto, author
On colonial Venus, people who are susceptible to lies have been denigrated and barred from the citizenry. Ancient dirigibles dock at the top of colossal towers to shunt people to and from underground cities. Armies of enclosed, beetle-shaped biocrawlers creep around the planet providing a coveted, yet deficient, natural environment. Colonists strive for an outdoor ecology to call their own, but terraforming is faltering. There is growing unrest, and at the heart of this rift is Hix, a member of the Venusian underclass. He has risen from the tenements to become a film star, until he is accused of murder. Neeva is destined to be Keeper, an esteemed protector of First Colony Heritage. She is the inspector assigned to Hix’s case, and the victim happens to be her sister. Hix and Neeva must find passage through the winds of change, or their people will be swept away forever.
Otto (Proliferation) straps readers in for an interstellar thrill ride filled with dynamic characters and harrowing adventures. Convicted criminal Hix Redrock-Ren has been sentenced to a workstation orbiting Earth. As a member of Venus’s lower social class known as the hedonites, he’s been looked down on his entire life—in contrast with Neeva Nash, the inspector assigned to his case, who’s destined for greatness within Venusian society. As a member of the upper-class Verdarists, she shares the dream of making Venus’s surface a lush green utopia, but that comes at a price. A hedonite riot has stirred unrest, and as Neeva investigates, she begins to unravel a deadly conspiracy. Now, Hix and Neeva must work together to save their people before it’s too late.

Hix shines as a dynamic protagonist. He quickly forms alliances with his fellow criminals, who all share the same intention of escaping the workstation and returning to Venus. For Hix, the desire to jump ship is rooted in love for his sister Mel, a drug addict living on Venus and the only person in the universe Hix has left—an endearing relationship that makes him easy to empathize with. Neeva is also a stand-out character, a strong counterpart to Hix with a storyline that wends through conspiracies and lies rooted in Venus’s history. Both of these characters shine against the backdrop of a society on the brink of self-destruction.

Urgent themes of classism and discrimination beat at the heart of this action-laced sci-fi thriller. It might take some readers some effort to settle into the intricate and futuristic world, but the storytelling smooths out as the plot seizes hold. The suspense is steadily paced as Otto bounces back between Hix and Neeva’s point-of-views. Well-designed graphics of Venus’s futuristic landscape help readers visualize the unique setting. Fans of dystopian sci-fi thrillers will enjoy this adventure.

Takeaway: Sci-fi fans interested in dystopian worlds, corrupt governments, and the future of our solar system will relish this futuristic thriller.

Great for fans of: Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, Ann Leckie.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A