Book Review: L. Neil Smith's "Ceres"
Ceres is the most recent installment of the Ngu family saga. The Ngu's were spawned by human Martian settlers, who clashed with United Nations forces sent from Earth to quash dissent. The Ngu's went on to settle other worlds. It helps a bit if you have a cursory knowledge of the solar system's geography, as Smith's creative universe extends from planet Earth, to the dwarf planets of Pallas and Ceres (in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter).
As we join the Ngu progeny many years later, Wilson Ngu, a wanna-be asteroid hunter, and his sister, Lyra (a contender for figure skating championships), and several of the supporting cast members are trying to make their way in the universe. An environmental group known as The Mass Movement, and their militant arm Null Delta Em, set forth to make an example of the Ngus for despoiling the pristine worlds of the asteroid belt. The mysterious prescence of the Quickest Gun in the Moon lurks in the shadows of Armstrong, the moons largest city, ready to make his move. What is his purpose?
The follow passage is timely. As I read it, I was reminded of the terrible events that happened just over a decade ago, those unspeakable acts of destruction and murder occurring at the world trade center in New York City:
"Unlike a government somewhere, we will not attempt to capitalize on what might be perceived as an opportunity by declaring war on some other government, or making vague, impossible promises as an excute to control our citizens more closely. This was an individual criminal act, no matter if it was committed at the behest of some government. We hall have individual choices to make, each of us, individually. Each of those individuals responsible -- and they know who they are -- will be hunted down and made to pay for waht they've been a part of. From now on it is they who will worry about odd noises coming in the night. It is they who will be glancing fearfully back over their shoulders."
I can't speak for the company that employs me -- at least not until I confer with them -- but speaking for the Ngu family, I tell you now: it is time for you to run and hid. Even if you do, I will find each and every one of you. It will be as if the organizations you work for never existed, because each and every memeber, each and every office, each and every agent will be rendered as extinct as the Dodo bird.
In summation, Smith slowly draws you into his world as you sip on Lyra in her quest for ice skating geatness, but once Wilson is introduced, this story accelerates like cold chocolate milk through a silly straw. You gulp and gulp, until, just as the vessel is emptied of its refreshing goodness, you are completely satiated.
A word of caution, there is a bit of gratuitous sexual detail, which didn't appeal to me. There is, however, lots of action to be had in Ceres, and I bet you'll find this book to be a lode of fun, even if you aren't a libertarian sympathizer.
If you like what you have read, then please pay me.