‘From Ice To Ashes’ by Rhett C. Bruno is a standalone novel set in the same world as ‘Titanborn’. The books are related and reading one will enhance the experience of reading the other.
In ‘Titanborn’, we learned about the history of Bruno’s Earth and the meteorite that changed everything. In ‘From Ice To Ashes’, Bruno outlines the further repercussions of the mass exodus of Earth and resettlement of the Solar system. Yes, I said resettlement. Titan was already home to a massive population of humanity known as the Ringers. The arrival of the Earthers not only messed up the delicate social balance between Earth and the outer planets, but the biological balance between them as well.
While Ringers have adapted to life in among the outer planets, their bodies suited to the cold, low G environment, their immune systems are not prepared for the onslaught of diseases that still thrive on Earth. To make matters worse, upon their arrival, the Earthers set themselves up as a superior caste, banishing the Ringers to the lowest echelons of society, to be the workers or to simply sicken and die.
Ringer Kale Drayton is young, but far from idealistic. After graduating from life on the streets of Darien, Titan’s main settlement, to a job aboard a gas harvester owned and operated by Earthers, he’s just trying keep his head down and earn a living wage. When his mother is sent to quarantine with a mysterious illness, Kale quits his job, believing that returning to a life of crime will be more lucrative. Medical care for Ringers is nearly non-existent and therefore expensive.
Unfortunately for him, going back isn’t easy. His reputation isn’t what it was since he went straight and there’s only one ‘job’ available to him. The reward could mean a cure for his mother. Failure…well, that’s just not an option.
I loved the setup for this novel. It has a very Bruno feel in that this is yet another world gone wrong and it’s our fault. Titan is supposed to be the legacy of Darien Trass, the man who gave his life for the dream of humanity living out there, making their own way and their own rules. Then the Earthers come in and mess it all up.
What makes this particular story enjoyable is Kale’s innocence. He really has no idea what his actions will set into motion and, once he takes in the repercussions of his actions, he’s terrified. He doesn’t immediately rise, hand in the air, and say, ‘I’ll be your hero.’ Instead, he makes a number of mistakes, many of which may endanger the mission he’s been thrust into the middle of. It’s only when Kale learns the truth about his family and his ‘legacy’ that he begins to take on board just how important his role is.
‘From Ice To Ashes’ is part socio-political thriller, part space opera, part coming of age story. The world Bruno has built reminds me a lot of the ‘Expanse’ series by James S.A. Corey, but is still unique enough to be original and interesting. While I really enjoyed Kale’s journey, I will admit that my favourite part might have been the epilogue where we again catch up with Malcolm Graves from ‘Titanborn’, giving us a hint where we might go next.
(pub: Hydra/Random House. 256 pages ebook. Price: $ 4.99 (US), £ 4.49 (UK). ASIN: B01M3WP9N4)