Review: Crash by Guy Haley

Posted by DarkChaplain at 2/03/2014
This review was definitely needed, and entirely deserved. Crash was the fourth of Haley's novels I have had the pleasure to read, and it will not be the last. Read on to learn about another high-quality offering by Guy Haley.
The Story:
"Dariusz is an engineer whose career ended years ago; now, a man he’s never met sits in a bar that doesn’t exist and offers him a fresh start… at a price.
Cassandra — ‘Sand,’ to her friends — is a space pilot, who itches to get her hands on the controls and actually fly a ship, rather than watch computers do it for her.
The ‘Pointers’ — the elite 0.01% who control virtually all wealth — have seen the limitations of a plundered Earth and set their eyes on the stars.

And now Dariusz and Sand, and a half-million ambitious men and women just like them, are sent out to extend the Pointers’ and the Market’s influence across the galaxy. But the colony fleet is sabotaged and the ESS Adam Mickiewicz crashes, on an alien planet where one hemisphere is seared by perpetual daylight and the other shrouded in eternal night. The castaways have the chance to create society from scratch… but the hostile planet — or their own leaders — may destroy them before they can even begin."

The Review
Crash is a fantastic novel. That much I could tell from the early chapters on. Opening the new year with a book such as Crash really lifted my spirits - it is engaging, emotional, even frightening. It offers so many different things, woven into a convincing and satisfying narrative, I can only tip my hat to Guy Haley in respect and offer thanks for yet another quality read.

The book opens up with two expositional pieces of in-universe speeches or lectures, which immediately set the stage for the state of the Earth, roughly one and a half centuries into the future. They describe how humanity is outgrowing, and ruining, Mother Earth, and will have to take to the stars to spread their legacy, but also how the flow of wealth has become stagnant and how the ruling elite, the Pointers, have established their reign over the other 99.99% of earth's population.

From here on out, I was gripped. Haley took current problems, science's prophecies and the general consensus of today, took it further down the road for another century, and founded his world on the wide discrepancy between the prosperous elite and the bitter poverty of everyone else.
At the center of this, he also took the stock market to eleven, turning it into a pseudo-sentient being that acts mostly on its own, ever busy to keep making money for those who already have enough to not notice it multiplying further.

While the main part of the novel's story surrounds and succeeds the title-giving Crash of the ESS Adam Mickiewicz, it is the first part of 6 chapters (out of a total of 24), playing on Earth and in transit, that sets the mood for the whole book. It does so excellently, and when a sense of normality finally reasserts itself long after the Crash, the reader can actually feel relief, but also regret, being gone from this planet and its population set onto the path of selfdestruction.

The story's main characters, Dariusz SzczeciƄski, an impoverished geoengineer seeking to keep his family fed at all cost, and Cassandra 'Sand' De Mona, a cocky space pilot looking to escape monotony, as well as the supporting cast of various types, are all interesting to read about in their own ways. Some are real stand-out types, like Yuri Petrovitch, son of the Pointer responsible for the Mickiewicz's part of the space colonization program, or Corrigan, a security guard enlisted by the Pointers. Many others appear (and disappear) throughout the course of the book, some of which you will love, others hate.

Even though Crash has such a highly diverse cast, though, the colony effort and the hostile planet the Mickiewicz is destined to crash onto, are the real stars of the book. Right from the prologue on it gets clear that things went wrong, and the colonists have not reached the right destination, instead being stranded on a planet of which one half is bathed in eternal sunlight, whereas the other lives in darkness. Nychthemeron is a world so hostile and otherworldly, every bit of the way turns into a struggle, and the colony First Landing has to face threats from without and within to survive.
As technology failed, supplies dwindled and humanity's base instincts came to the fore, Crash shone with a believable tale that kept me on the edge of my seat.

As the book progresses, multiple timeskips are happening between chapters or parts of the novel. This helps immensely at showing the reader the growth of the settlement, but also the characters. Relationships between characters develop throughout the story, the people adapt to their environment and technological progress is being made. At no point did I feel that the story got bogged down, and seeing the characters I came to like grow with their new home was very satisfying.

And they have to grow, otherwise Nychthemeron would swallow the pioneers whole. Once again, I cannot stress it enough, Guy Haley excelled at creating a believable, rich environment for one of his stories. Leave it to the man to get you places, both hostile and beautiful. While I would not exactly enjoy a vacation on this two-sided world, it fascinated me with its geography, ecosystem, flora and fauna. There is a lot of depth here, and I would love to see it expanded on in future novels, if they are to be.

If it wasn't clear enough already, I adore this novel.
It was refreshing, kept me on edge, made me laugh and frown, had me care about its characters and anticipate the worst. The revelations at the end of the novel had me wide-eyed and grinning soon afterwards, and I loved every bit of it.

Crash definitely deserves a continuation, or as many as Haley would be willing to put to paper.
First Landing and Nychthemeron still have a lot of stories to tell - and if Guy gets to write them, I'll be around to read. I recommend you do the same by starting with this book. If you have even the slightest passion for science fiction, you will appreciate it.

Crash on Goodreads

About the Author
DarkChaplain is a big nerd who spends too much time reading and thinking about books, organizing them on his ever-growing shelves, and yet increases his backlog by the month. DC is also an avid Gamer and owns more PC games than he'll ever be able to play. He is certainly spoiled for choice!
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain

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