Hugo Award winner Emma Newman returns to the captivating Planetfall universe with a novel about vengeance and the lengths to which one will go to save the future of humanity.
Six months after she left, Dee is struggling to manage her rage toward the people who ordered the nuclear strike that destroyed Earth. She’s trying to find those responsible, but she’s not getting very far alone.
A dedicated gamer, Dee is endeavoring to discover a mersive good enough to enable her to escape her trauma. When she is approached by a designer who asks her to play test his new game, she hopes it will be what she needs—but it isn’t like any mersive she’s played before. When a man suddenly dies in the real world, she realizes that at the same time in the game, she killed a character who bears a striking resemblance to the dead man—a man she discovers was one of those responsible for the death of millions on Earth.
Disturbed, but thinking it must be a coincidence, Dee continues the hunt for information. But when she finds out the plans for the future colony, she realizes that to save what is left of humanity, she might have to do something that risks what remains of her own.
Newman builds on the best elements of her interconnected Planetfall series for this superb fourth volume (after Before Mars), which centers on a covert investigation into nuclear genocide. Emotionally cold Dee seethes, wondering who aboard the spaceship Atlas 2 ordered the secret nuclear launch that ravaged Earth. The only people who observed the detonation are Dee; her best friend, Carl; and Carl's "sort-of lover," Travis. Six months into their 20-year journey to a new world, an unexpected offer of a job analyzing entertainment usage allows her access to the ship's computer systems, which lets her seek answers. She is also invited to elite games where players rely on their real-world physical abilities in virtual space, and encounters a cagey virtual guide. After her first foray, she is disturbed that a man she killed in the game died in the real world. Carl, a former detective, investigates the man's death, but the mysterious guide uses impressive data hacking skills to stymie him and protect Dee, while inviting Dee to take revenge on the game's designers for setting her up to be a killer. Despite her fear of being caught, Dee agrees to aid the guide's scheme. Tense moments mount as she learns more about her incognito ally and the ship's leadership, leading to a chilling, ethically complex ending. This winning combination of intriguing mystery and inventive SF richly rewards Newman's longtime readers and will lure others to the series.