Planetfall by Emma Newman

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Planetfall by Emma Newman

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Ambitious, broad reaching and yet personal, touching, and hugely affecting – Planetfall is enthralling – a twisting corkscrew of a plot that reaches deep inside the reader and stirs emotions masterfully
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: November 2015
Publisher: ROC Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0425282397

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Ren believed in Lee Suh-Mi's vision of a world far beyond our one, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, and untainted by overpopulation, pollution and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything and followed the pathfinder Suh-Mi into the unknown. Twenty-two years later, the new colony still functions – based around a mysterious alien structure into which Suh-Mi has resided in isolation. Ren works hard alone, generating the tools needed for survival – and harbouring a secret that could destroy everything they have worked to build. When a stranger appears, bearing a strong resemblance to the hidden Suh-Mi, secrets can no longer be hidden – secrets that may just destroy the colony…

Emma Newman has previously written three fantasy novels, various short stories, works as a professional audiobook reader, and produces a hugely successful and award-winning podcast on the side, in which she enters into conversation with various accomplished authors and illustrators. It's a wonder then that she had enough time to write her first full-length science fiction novel. It's an even bigger wonder that it is so, so darn good.

Firstly – the protagonist. Ren is not always hugely likeable, but she is always sympathetic and provides a wry, dry, damaged, but often perceptive outlook on events, and is an intriguing companion for the reader. The journey she goes on is not the huge operatic journey you may be expecting from a science fiction book, but is instead a hugely personal one, both for Ren and, in some places, for some people, for the reader.

The overarching mystery is a huge one – and whilst the book has a slow, gentle start, the pace picks up with aplomb, racing towards a climax. Twists thrown in at the end are perhaps not developed as much as I hoped, but it's no huge loss – I put this book down feeling rather shell shocked and a little lost – and it was only upon reflection I realised quite how engrossed I had been.

This is Science Fiction at its finest – and when the alien cultures and futuristic technologies and wonderfully depicted settings are put to one side, this is a staggeringly good psychological portrait of a fantastically fleshed out character who will stay with me for a long, long time. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading, I would absolutely recommend The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. Another book which takes place in an otherworldly, science fiction setting, The Book of Strange New Things then switches into an in-depth, gripping and moving look at relationships, faith, and community. You might also appreciate I Have Waited, and You Have Come by Martine McDonagh.

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