Earth is polluted, overcrowded and generally considered inhospitable, and the solution is of course to colonize a planet. Venus rather than the sci-fi fav’ Mars is chosen in this book. And rather than a mass exodus from earth there is only a small colony. The main character is introduced in a soap-opera like waking-up-in-hospital-with-memory-loss scene; however this is not just a cheap ploy and a lazy start. It actually works its way in to the story and helps develop the reluctant hero. So do not be deterred by this in the beginning, it plays out well in the story to come. So stick with it.
The story takes us through the average life of the colony and in doing so introduces the rest of the character gallery.
After a while, our guide through this tour finds out his wife is pregnant, normally a happy occasion for a sound happy family. But this is where the story begins to take a more solid form; oxygen has always been a scarce resource on the colony. The story up till this point in the book has been a prelude; the colony is not able to sustain itself with an added person. And the father-to-be our guide/hero/scientist is now trying to solve this problem. Not only for the sake of his own child, but so that the colony can expand beyond it’s current 100-ish person capacity.
All characters other than our man, while not flat nor completely filled out lack any development in the story, but as it is quite a short one not to mention that the focus in this story is the problem at hand (oxygen) and our man. This works and is not something that you will be annoyed or even notice as the story progresses.
It is the story I ultimately have a problem with; this book is a good read, an easy read. But if like me you have read a few sci-fi books and/or seen your share of sci-fi movies then this book becomes predictable. It is original but had it been a boxing match between you and the author… you would have won simply because you would be able to see the next punch coming before the author knew he was going to throw it.
I would still recommend reading it, but save it for a day when you’re travelling and need a book that doesn’t mind a few interruptions. Or give it as a gift to a sci-fi novice, it makes a good non-scary introduction into the sci-fi genre.