Publication date: 28th June, 2019
Genre: Science fiction, Dystopian
The year is 2126. Earth is a husk of its former glory.
Bled dry of resources by an ever-increasing parasite, Humankind.
To live in this time is to be one payroll number amongst billions. Born to work until death.
Freedom and individualism are resigned to the past within the Mega Corps.
Huge cities, each owned by a corporation have replaced the countries of old.
Their tall walls the only divide between the suffocation of a dense metropolis
and the starvation of the barren wastelands.
Surviving this age means bending the knee to the combined over-class of rich
and powerful, Unity — an organisation that had been formed in the era after first contact with an alien race. The only contact, never to be seen again.
Mankind rallied under one banner…
But as is the nature of the powerful, they preyed on the nightmares of the weak.
Now all hide within their high walls, fed on propaganda and fear of the aliens return.
The parasite grows, draining its birth world in the hope of being ready for a foe
only seen in nightmares and the books of old.
This is the tale of those times…
I picked up Orson for its intriguing cover. The bluish-white orb portended a story about space and aliens, and the words “relocation lottery” caused my imagination to run wild.
At 347 pages, Orson isn’t a quick read but not a word is unnecessary. Nowhere did the narrative drag—not even when the male protagonist is introspecting or debating with his inner voice, which happens often.
The plot benefits from Pearson’s ability to write movie-worthy action scenes and create realistically flawed characters who grow as the story progresses.
Orson, the male protagonist, starts off as a man-child with a penchant for complaining but evolves into a more responsible person when his future seems to hang in the balance. Similarly, Estan, the female protagonist, may project a tough exterior but struggles with self-doubt and questions of morality.
The characters are well-drawn, with detailed and credible backstories that help us understand where they’re coming from and what their motivations are. Everything is explained at the right juncture, and there are plenty of twists to keep you wondering just what will happen next. Pearson also gives minor characters an elaborate story—perhaps they will return in the next book in the series.
The dystopian setting allows for commentary on real-world issues like global warming, environmental pollution, and the inequitable distribution of wealth. He also weaves in philosophical quotes, mostly spoken/thought by Orson, without disrupting the pace of the narrative.
“A person’s life can be broken down into three events. Other things will definitely occur throughout this time, but these three are universal to mankind. Coming into the world, making a mark on the world, and leaving it.”
Pearson’s world is run by advanced technology, which raises questions about privacy, confidentiality, and security when control is concentrated with a select few. The political scenario is frighteningly reminiscent about what is happening in the real world. Funnily enough, robots are considered “old tech” in Orson’s world.
I would say that Pearson’s strong suit is the way he creates an “atmosphere” with his descriptions of the setting. I could feel the oppressive heat and hopelessness of the mines, the gritty life on the wastelands, the clinical coldness of the hospital, and the insidious comfort and the so-called safety of the high walls of the Mega Corporations.
I would recommend Orson to people who enjoy an action-packed science fiction story in a dystopian setting. Book 2 in the series (Estan: The Lucid Chronicles #2) has also been released so you can continue reading without a break. I know I will—I’ve already downloaded the next book via Kindle Unlimited!
About the Author: You can learn more about David J Pearson from his blog.
(I received a review copy from the author via Booktasters in exchange for an honest review.)
(This post contains Amazon affiliate links.)