Angel Stations

Angel Stations by Gary Gibson

Eons ago, a super-scientific culture known as "Angels" left incomprehensible relics all over the galaxy. Among these phenomena were the Stations, whereby human spacecraft could jump instantly from one part of the galaxy to another, and from them the brilliant Angel technology could be explored and exploited. One of these stations orbits the planet Kaspar, where the only other known sentient species outside Earth has been meticulously allowed to continue evolving in its own world of primitive ignorance. But suddenly Kaspar's mysterious "Citadel" has become the vital key to repelling the fast-approaching threat. At what cost, though, to its native inhabitants—and to the human residents of the orbiting Angel station?

There are quite a few well known names that represent the current sci-fi scene, but I for one hadn't heard of the author Gary Gibson and his books. Looking up some of his books they did strike me as most interesting, his idea's seemed to be grand and very interesting and directly in the lines that you want to read in space opera sci-fi. Angel Stations was also Gary Gibson's debut book back in 2004. 

The story of Angel Stations starts of directly with a lot of action and introduces you to multiple characters that you get to follow along the whole story. The initial start up of the story focuses on many of these characters individually from all the characters there are several that really make up the backbone of the whole story: Elias, Kim and Ursu. It's is hard to say who really makes up the main protagonist of the story, as in all three the threads you really get to learn much about how this universe is working, if I would have to say something, it would be the combination of Elias and Kim in the end that really drove the story onwards. But lets get back to the characters first. Elias is an ex-soldier with a complicated past. It is hard to say who really makes up the lead in the story, but if I would have to judge it would be Elias. Elias' character is very interesting. Soon you learn that he is one of the soldiers that has been genetically modified by Angel technology and can do and see things that others can't, he has something of a gift of precognition. With some action happening early in the book Elias set out to find Trencher. The encounter between Elias and Trencher and what was said might not have meant a whole lot in that context but when you look closely at the ending of the book, it all makes a whole of sense. Elias is a very strong character that once he has set his mind on something he will make sure that he will achieve his goal. But Elias has another big problem... he has contracted something called slow-blight... he is now racing to find answers. 

On the other side you have Kim, a pilot who works near and about the Kaspian planet, flying about in her Goblin spacecraft. With Kim's story taking place near the Angel station a lot things that you read in her storyline are about explaining several aspects of the Angels and how it is all working. The first thing that falls to note about Kim's characters is that she has a lot of demons haunting her. Troubled by her girlfriend that she misses a lot. She also has come to take "Books" into her system. Books are a bit like eatable pills of memories, when you ingest a Book it allows you to relive the memories of the person from which they were extracted from. I really liked the idea of showing memories in this way and though Kim claims it's not a drug, in my opinion she does see at as a form of escape of reality just to forget everything. Gary Gibson showed in a great way how complex Kim's character is. But on the whole she is just like Elias, once she has set her mind upon something she is headstrong and determined to reach it. The best part of the book is when both their stories come to collide, this part by their interplay and part by the flow of the story really pushes the story into a rapid. 

Another perspective is offered through one of the inhabitants of the planet of Kaspar. Usru. This first confused the heck out of me not really knowing how to let this all sink it. This perspective of the story was one of the complexest that I had to read. By Ursu we learn a lot of how life is going on the planet of Kaspar and the Kaspians themselves. Ursu worships the god Shecumpeh and when a new power arises that wants to ban and destroy all the gods, proclaiming himself and the new emperor Ursu must do everything to make sure his god is safe, but he even finds out more than he initially thought would happen. Now just a bit on the Kaspian people, if found them the most interesting alien race. The reference of bit like doglike creatures walking on all fours, but with a lot of intelligence offered a lot of new feeds to my imagination. 

The whole universe that Gary Gibson has created in Angel Stations is just grand. Even though the story takes place mostly into and around the planet of Kaspar, you learn a lot of the dynamics of the whole universe and how somethings came to pass. But what is most striking to read about was the fact that the "Angels" initially granted the human the Angel Stations but they left without a trace... This really inspires that something must have happened or that something else is up... And this is I think reflected more towards the ending of the story as you see Elias and Kim race towards saving a planet. The fleeing from the Angel Station in that small confined spaceship with Elias and Kim got me readily down to the edge of my seat. Because Elias isn't all just a nice guy after all when he HAS to get his job done. The story of Angel Stations might read be complex at first, there is a lot of exposition going on in the earlier pages that almost feel as a big dump of information, but it's all top notch scifi stuff that gives a grand feel to the story, and for me didn't feel like a drag at all. And once you get down to near the ending of the book a lot of things fall into place and that moment right there, is why you should read this book!

Angel Stations is a great debut by a new voice in science fiction. Yes I am reading a reprint of a book published in 2005, I can still safely say that even now Angel Stations is a unique story that allows for a great deep space opera adventure. Gary Gibson involves a lot of cool elements of science fiction, nice characterization and knows when to take hold of the reins of the story to slow it down or to throw you into a thrilling ride till the end. 

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