Published by Tor Books on March 25, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Science fiction
*This book was provided by the Gift for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he’s orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he’s surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still—that he’s been asleep for 14,000 years.
Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Its citizens survive for millennia, traveling asleep on long voyages between worlds. Not only is Lockstep the new center of the galaxy, but Toby is shocked to learn that the Empire is still ruled by its founding family: his own.
Toby’s brother Peter has become a terrible tyrant. Suspicious of the return of his long-lost brother, whose rightful inheritance also controls the lockstep hibernation cycles, Peter sees Toby as a threat to his regime. Now, with the help of a lockstep girl named Corva, Toby must survive the forces of this new Empire, outwit his siblings, and save human civilization.
Karl Schroeder's Lockstep is a grand innovation in hard SF space opera.
Lost in space for 14,000 years!
Lost in space in suspended animation for fourteen thousand years, when Toby awakens he finds the universe very different. The outer worlds in which Toby’s family was attempting to colonize have devised a way to manage resources with a method called lockstep. Lockstep worlds are animate or awake one month and then enter suspended animation for thirty years. Made possible by the suspended animation beds, this technology it turns out has been developed and is controlled by Toby’s sister and brother, who have become… corrupt with the power and money they have. To make matters more interesting, there is a new religion which I won’t give away, but it’s definitely interesting. Toby’s brother and sister find out Toby has been found and his brother orders his death. Will Toby be able to hide from his family long enough to learn to function in the new world and undo the corruption he is sure can’t really be his brother and sister?
Interesting world concept, promising story, lack luster characters:
In this very interesting setting we watch Toby struggle with who to trust and dealing with essentially loosing his family. Unfortunately, he just kinda shrugs off his emotions and thinks really rationally about things. Which makes him feel rather flat to me as a reader. There is a large range of secondary characters and it takes a long time to really see which characters are going to be important and which ones are worth getting attached to. The story thickens which is nice, but I found myself not really caring how it turned out because I just couldn’t get attached to Toby, or any of the less central characters. It wasn’t a bad read, but it definitely fell short of it’s hype. The world building was interesting and the story line seemed open to exploration but just never got fleshed out in a way that fulfilled it’s potential. For me this was a science fiction filled with technology that they never really explained and reached a little to far to be believable. Add in the weird lockstep and following the math on how the worlds work would probably turn off quite a few readers. I also found a lot of holes, when the worlds are in suspended animation, what keeps others from waking early and pirating other worlds resources. How do they keep in sync and why doesn’t a rogue world run on a little bit different schedule and go steal everything? A lot of it just didn’t seem plausible at all. Between this and the lack luster characters, I wouldn’t recommend this book to any but those that are very interested in suspended animation and even those I would caution that there isn’t a whole lot of technical information given on how the system works at all.
*copy gifted to us by the lovely Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings