Monkey, Crab and Locust…aliens? ARC review of Binary System, Eric Brown

Greetings earthlings! Welcome to today’s review of a new science fiction book from Solaris publishing. Solaris are the same Oxford based publishing company who brought us Scourge (which I reviewed earlier in the year) so I started this book without particularly high hopes and expecting to have to slog through in a similar manner. But how did it all turn out?

Goodreads Summary:

A devastating starship crash. An alien world. An incredible adventure.

After surviving a catastrophic starship blow-out, Delia Kemp finds herself stranded on the inhospitable, ice-bound world of Valinda, populated by the Skelt, a race of hostile aliens who will stop at nothing to obtain Delia’s scientific knowledge. Escaping from the Skelt – assisted by a friendly chimpanzee-like alien and a giant spider-crab – she travels south through a phantasmagorical landscape as the long winter comes to an end and the short, blistering summer approaches. Pursued by the Skelt, she and her companions make a death-defying dash across the planet’s inimical equator to meet up with fellow survivors from the starship, and a final journey to the valley of Mahkanda – where salvation just might be awaiting.

You know what this book reminded me most of? The television series/book(s) The 100. Something about having to ascertain the hostility of a planet and encountering people/species and not knowing if they are hostile or not…there was a link there.

I actually thoroughly enjoyed this book, I wasn’t expecting to in any way shape or form but I think this is a really good example of how you write a science fiction novel that isn’t overly full of jargon or too complex for anyone without a masters degree in engineering to comprehend. The story was more about characters and about the journey and the action than about the specifics of alien worlds. That may be the exact opposite of what you want from a sci-fi novel but for me it hit right in that sweet spot.

The inclusion of an imp (a kind of implant in Delia’s head that has artificial intelligence) was a smart way of avoiding a lot of plot holes and opening a lot of opportunities in this novel. it’s quite nice not to worry about why you’re alien is able to communicate with a human when you can put it all down to AI. Rather than feeling like a cop out (which it could easily have done) this felt like a way of letting us really get to the action rather than having chapters of language learning or something like that.

There are a lot of really fun characters in this book, Delia included. I never thought I’d be finding myself saying ‘I liked the sentient spider crab alien character’ but that is indeed the case.

Bottom line this book was incredibly readable. It’s one of those titles where you just have to find out how it ends! It felt to me like a fantasy novel wrapped up in a sci-fi setting, not too dissimilar from the things I love to put me off while at the same time being new and exciting. It pulled me through and I was out the other side before I could really register what had happened. Which is certainly a good thing in my opinion as it means I was enjoying the story too much to look at how much of the book I had read/was yet to read.

My rating: 5/5 stars

By the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher (Solaris) in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.

Binary System publishes on the 8th of August so there’s oodles of time to preorder if you fancy it!

What do you think? Is this something you might be into? Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to click that follow button to keep up with all my posts!


You might also like:

The Space Between the Stars, Anne Corlett

All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders

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