book reviews by Althea

Footsteps in the Sky – Greg Keyes ***

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Greg Keyes’ first novel is now back ‘in print’ thanks to Open Road Media. Since being won over by his ‘Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone’ I was eager to read this.

It’s a ‘colony-world’ sci-fi story. The colonists are a group of people from Earth who have the intention of re-creating the traditional culture of the Hopi. In service to this goal, their children have been brought up with the myths of the Kachina and other spirits instilled in them. However, in many ways they are still modern people, and the reality of interplanetary technology coexists awkwardly with their mythology.

And of, course, there are disagreements and factions. On-planet, the two great divides are between those who are more ‘traditionalist’ and those who are more eager to embrace any available technology. However, both of those groups may be threatened if a feared rumor is true: is the corporation who enabled the trip to this world just waiting for the colonists to do all the hard work before swooping in and taking over to reap the economic benefits?

On planet, one man believes so, and he’s willing to be ruthless in order to combat what seems to him to be an ‘end-justifies-the-means’ level threat.

In his way seems to be a young woman, Sand, who, following in her deceased mother’s footsteps, discovers what her mother described as a Kachina spirit – but what could be described by those of a more scientific bent as an alien. This could be a game-changer, and the fate of the entire colony hangs on the decisions that will be made.

It’s a good book. The whole ‘resurrection of traditional cultures in space’ reminded me a bit of other books I’ve read, including some by Tobias Buckell – but I felt that the rationale given and the description of what a re-created culture might be like are depicted here in a much more realistic and believable manner than in many other equivalent stories. I do think that Keyes’ writing has improved over time – you can tell this is an early work. But it’s still definitely worth a look!

Many thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.


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