22 June 2015

KOA: A Review of Empire of Dust, Jacey Bedford

Summers as a kid found me either barefoot, ripping around on my 3-speed bike, or backseat of the family car, spying for KOA signs. We were a camping family; that was our thing. I grew up learning to catch salmon in the fjords of Alaska all the while sipping on hot apple cider mentally preparing for my daily morning argument of why my brother should allow me to eat the Fruit Loops from the multi-pack cereal snack box. My parents believed in packing us all up and seeing Canada through the vantage point of the open road. There were no overnights in hotels, or road side diner pit stops. We drove from Nova Scotia up through to our new home in the Yukon one long summer, stoping for the odd baseball game, the odd relative reunion and fishing. As long as my Mom had a book, my Dad could stop at any prospective raging river or brook to try his luck. For all those trips, all those places travelled through, it was not the arrival but the anticipation of getting there that lingers. 

Maybe this is why Empire of Dust by Jacey Bedford was the perfect book for this girl to launch her summer reading campaign. Even though Empire of Dust is described as psi-tech it really is an old school space adventure with focus on adventure. My local SF bookstore had to weave their art of negotiation rather tightly around me before I tossed it into the buy pile. However I soon discovered that the very tech I was reluctant to explore created a more cohesive world-view, lending an air of uniqueness to the plot that heightened my imagination. 

Bedford's world-view is thankfully not utopian. The story is rather dark, Cara Carlinni, a first grade psi-tech telepath is on the run, hiding from her past employer, the mega-corporation Alphacorp. The science is not holistic encompassing; being upgraded with technology to expand a person's latent psychic tendencies has a price of servitude that can be viewed from both ends of the spectrum of personal gain to life-long bondage. To be fair, the adventure does drag, the crisis opening the novel does not dissipate until the denouement. Once resolved to the notion that all the secrets Cara held close were not going to be revealed quickly, I stepped back, and simply enjoyed the ever-increasing pace and seemingly never-ending level of anxiety that shadowed the main characters. 

Empire of Dust is the perfect little space book, for the perfect summer day. It is less about the characters and more about world-building, scope and plot. Sometimes the journey is the story, especially when it comes to Empire of Dust. 

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