Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sand Omnibus - Hugh Howey

Howey has done it again: Sand is another engrossing dystopian sci-fi adventure.

This book appears to take place in a different universe than his bestseller, Wool. The main characters here are three siblings who live in a desert wasteland. Buried deep below them in the sand are artifacts from a lost technological civilization. There's money to be had in scavenging these artifacts, and one of the most potentially lucrative professions is sand diving. The diver rigs him- or herself up in a suit that uses electricity to flow the sand away from and around the diver. The best divers can go a few hundred meters deep. The eldest of the siblings, Vic (short for Victoria), has figured out a way to stage air tanks in a dive so she can go much deeper. Connor, the youngest of these three, shows promise. But it's Palmer, who is between Vic and Connor in age, who is destined to discover the greatest find of all -- the fabled lost city of Danvar -- and almost gets himself killed. For the men behind the search for Danvar care only about a certain kind of artifact -- the kind that can level a civilization -- and they don't intend to let anyone who learns their secret survive.

The mood in the first section of the book is so intense that I had to put it aside for a little while. I just knew things were going to go badly for Palmer and his buddy Hap. It also didn't help that I very quickly figured out where Danvar was in our time (mainly because I happened to be reading the book in that very city!). But once I got past that, I enjoyed the story immensely. My only quibble was the ease with which people traveled between towns. I've driven from Denver to Pueblo, and it takes several hours -- not the hop-skip-and-jump these folks make it out to be, unless their sarfers can go a lot faster than I think they can. But overall, Sand was a great read. I highly recommend it.