What is Station? A second chance? A nocturnal paradise? Or something more sinister?
When grief-stricken Marlin Hadder's life refuses to end despite his best efforts, he unwittingly earns an invitation to Station. On its glossy iridescent surface, it's a city of indulgence, where every desire can be satisfied through gratuitous sex, exotic drugs, and extreme surgical procedures called Elevations. But when Hadder wants a life beyond the audacious parties and shocking body modifications, he delves deeper into the sunless city, uncovering its darker mysteries.
Included among those discoveries is a violent, twisted group of residents called Risers, who have abused Station’s gifts, transforming themselves into killing machines set on bringing down the city’s massive walls. And once those walls fall, the outside world is an exposed throat waiting to be cut.
As Hadder encounters Station's more outrageous characters, including a flesh artist, a band of behemoth guardians, and a self-appointed king of carnage, he finds himself asking a frightening question. Is Station a place where dreams are made? Or where monsters are created?
The storm clouds are gathering, the Risers are moving, and the clock is ticking. A shocking murder, a great duel, and a heartbreaking act set chess pieces in motion, forcing Hadder to convince a community grown complacent that it must fight for its city. But is Station a utopia worth protecting, or cheap theater between gods better left in rubble?
Death is neither the end of existence nor the beginning of clarity for a grieving widower who finds himself in a mysterious near utopia in this debut novel.
Marlin Hadder is dead and not particularly liking it. After a dreamlike encounter in which he seemingly repudiates a peaceful meeting with a “painfully beautiful” and powerful “iridescent figure” because of the Rage, a lifelong anger that he struggles to control, Hadder ends up in a city called Station, in a decrepit bar with the same name. The city is a marvel: All labor is done by humanoid manikins, and there are numerous entertainments and no aging or sickness. It seems like paradise, but Hadder has some key questions (“Could this strange city really prove a new beginning? Could it make him finally forget his old life that was lost in the wreckage? Is that what he needed? Is that what he really wanted?”). Several residents have queries of their own. The more he explores, the more he questions, especially regarding the enigmatic Creator of the city, Mister Rott, and the beings on the other side of Station’s border. Early writes with economy and punch, creating an unusual world with specificity and color while permitting many aspects to go unexplained for the moment, allowing for more particulars or mystery as the story demands. Hadder and the other humans of Station are painted in equally strong detail. Their strengths and flaws seem believable and lived in even as the stranger aspects of their reality—such as the lack of a sun, the inability to leave the city once one’s entered, even the nature of their continued existence—loom over the characters to various degrees, affecting their psychologies and philosophies in unexpected ways. Portraying a realm built from various pieces of the characters’ old world, the engrossing novel wears its numerous influences well, twirling aspects of Dante, Philip José Farmer, and Buddhist thought into the narrative without being ham-handed. Some readers may be surprised at where the last third of the book goes, given its tonal shift with respect to the previous pages, but this volume is only the first of a series. The author’s deft plotting and capable writing keep things together even while laying the groundwork for the tale’s continuation.
Strong worldbuilding and characters ground an imaginative setting, creating a powerful series opener.