Fiction Reviews

The Nemesis List

(2010) R. J. Frith, Tor, £16.99, hrdbk, 303pp, ISBN 978-0-230-74891-0

Humanity has spread to the stars and, using jump gates, has thriving colonies on many worlds. However, a dictatorial government struggles to maintain control using sham democracy, and so some planets dissent seeking independence. Frank Pak runs a ship ferrying goods, and when he is asked to escort a young runaway back to his family, he does not realise that his reluctant charge – who seems mentally dysfunctional and not at all well – has been illegally, experimentally, synapticly enhanced and his mind is brimming with data. Nor is he aware that both the government and an outer world revolutionary force are after him…

The Nemesis List is a space opera and also the winner of Tor's 'War of the Words' competition for new science fiction writers. As a debut novel arising out of a competition, The Nemesis List hits most of the right buttons. Frith's future is gritty, mercenary and peopled with a variety of rounded characters whose only commonalty is the their lacking trust in virtually everyone else. Consequently, the reader is not sure who is with whom and what their motive is: though it is clear that many are after the experimentally warped genius protagonist.

It has to be said that while Frith's narrative carries the reader along, overall The Nemesis List seems to spend much time providing background and in scene setting. By the time the book reaches its conclusion, much is left unanswered. The good news for the reader (and the publisher) is that Frith leaves us wanting more. This book simply begs a sequel.

Jonathan Cowie

See also David's take on the The Nemesis List.

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