New Frontier by Jeremy Lee
As a new era dons for humanity with all the attendant celebrations and riots, finally breaking the bonds which left us tied to the Solar System is reported as being the moment which unites all the disparate parts of the world and brings us into an era of peace and discovery, and yet this giant leap is almost instantly marred by greed erupting into violence. The Argos, the ship sent out on this historic mission, is left adrift and crippled far from home, survivors of this mysterious attack struggle to hold their ship together and come to the rescue of homesteaders and compatriots relying on them to not only survive but retaliate, and rescue a world where the Solar System has become a rugged frontier ripe for colonization and opportunity filled with the honest and ruthless carving out lives past the veil of civilization.
Several rival corporations, monopolies delving into every industry imaginable, have all but supplanted nation-states, keeping governments around only as a necessary fiction to pacify populations, and the realm of business now reaches into politics, military, religion, and all other aspects of human life. The frontier regions of space are a place filled with new homesteaders, miners, merchants, bandits, and scientific minds that is barely able to keep from slipping into total anarchy, a frontier region where people can disappear from their lives and head off into the unknown. New Frontier is an adventure which stretches from the furthest reaches of space, to slums in backwater cities, to the lunar capitol, and ultimately onto the wreckage of the great ship. The gallant and the selfish alike are forced to face the best and worst of human civilization far from home and decide what they truly believe in.
New Frontier: An Excerpt
Space is a silent and vastly dead expanse, yet filled with marvels of life, twists of physics, furnaces of unimaginable fire, and wastelands of matter-shattering cold. There is no greater ocean for humanity to sail, no more perilous journey, and none more yearned for by generation upon generation. Tentative steps into the endless frontier inevitably are loosened into giant leaps, but adventure brings with it failures as often as glory.
Light years from Sol and the comforts of home, humanity’s greatest leap lay strewn across hundreds of miles, now little more than smoldering wreckage of dreams feebly forged into reality. The once sleek and vaguely arrowhead shaped craft so many people cheered on its way was drifting wounded and listless. The daring vessel, audacious by design, the main body accompanied by four sets of engines jutting from either side, shot through space scattering bodies and shards of metal and freezing vapor leaking from its own wounds. It was the culmination of centuries of leaps and stuttering steps forward in science and engineering. The Argos, now rent down the middle nearly in half, and the scar ran forward from the reactors at the aft reaching for the bow.
Bodies floated in space among the debris, some of them sucked out so suddenly into the void that the immortal looks on their faces weren’t even surprised. They had been asleep, or monotonously going through their shift, now they were frigid corpses floating among the charred debris. Summersaulting about its axis three quarters of the Argos continued to make an orbit around a red and purple planet, no sign left of their assailants.
From the missile tubes arrayed along the bow and reaching back down the starboard side of the ship the second, third, and fourth decks looked out, ripped open, the scar exposing the interior of the ship only stopping at the stern where the secondary airlocks and engine room resisted with doubly reinforced bulkheads. Most of what was exposed was the crew quarters and mess hall, and most of the victims of the initial onslaught had been off duty. The emergency systems to seal off hull breaches at the doorways were methodically coming on-line, but they couldn’t move nearly as fast as a vacuum.
The tear stopped just short of the science labs, now mostly stripped bare of experiments and instruments. Banging through the doors and gaping openings supplies, equipment, and people from all over the ship flew and crashed, drawn up toward the grasping expanse of space.
Hector de Anza felt himself flying through the air, as everything else not strapped to a bulkhead, ripping out of the ship. He thrashed about with his hands and feet, anything to grab hold. Even in the rush he could feel the air getting thinner and the temperature plummeting. He’d never thought of himself as a man afraid of dying, but he didn’t know if the savior would find his soul out here. Then he prayed passionately for all the poor souls he couldn’t save, even if he didn’t yet know his own fate.
Catching on a storage locker in the lab it took all the strength the man had to hold fast, his legs still streaming out behind him as space tried to lay claim to him as well as the air whipping past, even amidst insanity and desperation Hector called out to his God. He couldn’t resist and chanced a glance past his feet. What should have been a corridor lined with crew cabins was open to the endless black.
He lashed out with his free hand as another body started to flash past in a bid to save at least one more. He caught hold of the poor man by the elbow but his hand slid down his arm as he nearly ripped loose. Hector finally gripped him by the hand and fought to keep him from flying free.
Hector held on as tightly as he could, but he felt both the man’s hand in his as well as his hold on the locker slipping. With a breathless, soundless, scream he gave his all to save both their lives. He felt himself drifting off into oblivion. Hector wasn’t strong enough to battle the nothingness of space, no matter how desperately he wanted to hold to life.
No matter how vehemently he squeezed Hector felt the crewman slipping from him. One second Hector could still feel him, hand in his, and the next he was watching as the poor crewman flew into the void. Hector looked the wretched man in the eye, saw terror marking his face, the last few gasps for air which wasn’t there, and the glossy look of peaceful death which washed over him at last.
Even as he watched the crewman die the emergency bulkheads were sliding into place. What felt to him like an hour of insanity and pain in truth lasted no more than ten seconds since the air first began to vanish out the rent hull.
As soon as the new bulkheads locked down into place sealing off the laboratory from the rupture the swirling rush of air died almost at once replaced with near nothingness. The quiet hurt nearly as badly as the earlier tumult, and carried an eerie pall and omen of the tomb. Hector’s sweaty hand slipped off of the storage locker, as much from exhaustion as because it was now safe. The air was still thin, and his body floated in the absence of gravity. The temperature had plunged to well below freezing in an instant and his body could hardly take the strain.
With a howl of frustration that he couldn’t suppress Hector tried to struggle on, the sharply steep stairs that they’d taken to calling a ladder that led down to the engine room was only a few feet away and he tried to glide over to it. Stars were popping before his eyes, and he could barely move his limbs as he tried to swim and spun about.
Having made it all the way to the ladder Hector looked down the steps towards the chaos of sparks and torn equipment below and he had to close his eyes to gather the strength to go down. With a last deep breath he tried, but he passed out just thinking of all he had to do. The cold clawed at him and the weak air left his lungs begging. He drifted into the blissful abandon of unconsciousness.
I enjoyed reading the New Frontier by Jeremy Lee. I really have to say, there is nothing like holding a softcover book in your hand. The quote taken from John F Kennedy embodies the spirit of the novel. In many ways, the turbulence of the 1960's is quite similar to the hectic nature of the new era of space travel and corporations holding power over the world.
At first, it was a little bit choppy because the timeline went back and forth. However, once you got into the groove of the writing it was quite interesting. The characters were an interesting mix of backgrounds, both political and racial ( at least cultural). This added another deep, dark dynamic to the novel. Some the characters were harder to get into into, but there is a huge character list. So, that makes it more likely there will be a character who you disagree with.
I liked the ending. I thought it tied the book together rather well.
I liked this take on science fiction as corportations are taking over the world. You can see this now since corporations are everywhere. So it is not such a far stretch to imagine such a place.