Saturday, April 22, 2023

Elysium Fire (Prefect Dreyfus Emergency #2), by Alastair Reynolds (author), John Lee (narrator)

Audible Audio, January 2018

The Glitter Band is a collection of 10,000 city-state habitats orbiting the planet of Yellowstone, existing in near-perfect democracy, with that democracy guarded by Panoply and its prefects. Prefect Tom Dreyfus has faced crises before, and overcome them.

There's a new crisis building, an outbreak of strange, unexplained deaths. People are suddenly dying of the malfunction and overheating of their neural implants. There are seemingly no connections, no similarities, in the victims to point the way to the cause. While the deaths are few and scattered at first, the deaths are rising exponentially. Rumors are starting spread, risking an even more deadly outbreak of panic.

There's fallout from the previous crisis, two years ago, in which some habitats were destroyed as part of the effort to stop the spread of a destructive artificial intelligence. A separatist movement has grown up, though so far only a few habitats have actually seceded from the Glitter Band. Now, though, an activist called Devon Garland has been traveling from habitat to habitat, giving rabble-rousing speeches telling people that Panoply isn't protecting them, but its own power and influence.

Dreyfus tries to raise concern about Garland among his colleagues, without success. Soon Garland is targeting him personally in his speeches, and showing up in places he shouldn't know Dreyfus would be. In pursuit of answers, Dreyfus is interviewing the only "witnesses" he has, the betas of those who have died of the "melter" phenomenon, and simultaneously chasing down information on Devon Garland and his background.

Meanwhile, Dreyfus's friends and deputy field prefects, Thalia Ng and Sparver Bancal, are sent off on a mission of their own, to check out the latest melter death, and get caught in "just an accident" that is awfully questionable, and kills an innocent witness. As evidence builds, the two crises start to look like one, and Dreyfus, Thalia, and Sparver all go through conflicts and stresses that alter their own views of themselves and each other.

It's exciting, though-provoking, and has real character development.

I received this audiobook as a gift.

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