In the future, the world is run by giant corporations. Everyone lives and works for one of “The Big Five.” It used to be “the Big Seven,” but a couple of wars took care of that. There are Residents and Citizens with a few more rights and opportunities, and then there are the “ghouls” who have to starve and scrape by in the streets. Years ago, a group of scientists and terraformers settled on Mars, and now they’re back and attacking Earth. New soldiers are needed, and ghoul Dietz signs up.
Faster than light travel has been developed, but not applied to ships: the Big Five send their soldiers to battle by breaking them down into atoms and beaming them to where they need to go. Dietz is trained for these drops, but things start to go wrong right away. Can Dietz survive the war while uncovering the secrets the corporations don’t want people to know? Can Dietz survive the light-speed drops, when each one brings danger?
This was a fun trippy sci-fi book in general, but it’s also written really interestingly. It’s told in first person, and Dietz gets no first name, description, or pronouns until 140 pages in. I started out picturing a male Dietz, because that’s usually what science fiction would default to for a grunt soldier fighting Martians. But when it became obvious that this was being done very deliberately, I started instead trying to picture Lydia Dietz from Beetlejuice as the main character. I will admit, it was tough! But I felt validated when another character says “she” on page 140. The author blurb at the back of the book is also written very carefully, with no pronouns at all. Pushing boundaries and expectations – love it! Plus, it’s just generally a great book that I don’t want to say too much about – the twists and turns are really well done and I don’t want to spoil anything. This was chosen as a science fiction book club book, so I knew absolutely nothing about it going in, which was fun. Recommended!