I am no science fiction aficionado. But, I have read my share of it, books that are akin to the genre I love, dark and heroic fantasy, in everything but setting—books of heroic deeds and daring-do. I am here to say that Outpassage is a book of wondrous endeavors, of a desperate struggle against physical danger, the impersonal machinations of corporations and the black hopelessness in one’s own heart.
Outpassage puts a face on corporate indifference (in the form of IST corporation) and calls him God (Godfrey). It too identifies the calculating, measuring heart of these same corporate interests and calls her Paige, an executive at IST. IST is a cold, empty corporation, conducting terraforming activities on outworld planets thought devoid of life. God is the designer of a corporate strategy that measures cost benefit in terms of lives and misery. Paige is just as important as God in the implementation of this strategy. She plays the part of the good Nazi bureaucrat, is the rationalization of numbers and statistics that drive despair, murder and greed—the ignorant accomplice. How many must be sacrificed by IST before the company’s activities become cost-prohibitive? It is only a question of numbers. In the early pages of the book, Paige’s conscience finds the price too high. Because of these newly found scruples, she finds herself shanghaied and pressed into a cargo hold with other desperate souls on their way to work in the very terraforming mines she had begun to question.
Cox is the soldier’s soldier, a Ranger in the vein of the Rangers that came before, like Darby, Mosby and Merrill. In a world where the military is usurped for corporate interests, Cox finds himself faced with a mission that asks him to face down a rebellion that is fomenting in the outworlds, a rebellion that stands against the inhuman atrocities perpetrated by IST in the pursuit of progress. This Ranger must either follow his orders, or follow his conscience. Like those Rangers before, Cox “Rangers up” and does what must be done, despite the personal cost.
Is the good of the many truly more weighty than the good of the few? Outpassage attempts to answer this through the sacrifices made by regular-day heroes, soldiers of little consequence in a game of universal consequence. Cox and Paige must struggle against each other, IST, a rising rebellion and powers that are beyond their understanding as they seek their own escape and victory, but end up finding much more about the universe and about themselves than they could have ever imagined.
Equal parts military science fiction, heroic fantasy, and thriller, Outpassage is a great book that combines deep, conflicted characters that evolve from a small minded executive and a narrow focused soldier into well-developed individuals that are willing to sacrifice their own deeply held values for duty to a bigger cause, and honor that is all the more palpable because it comes at a terrible price—these regular people who become Heroes of a mythic ilk. I have an affinity for both of the main characters, having been both a soldier and a corporate executive in my life, and I can appreciate the pressures applied to both of the main characters in this book. And the author has done a great job of portraying them grappling with these values as they evolve into better, stronger, more heroic people, until they eventually abandon self-preservation for selflessness.
I saw things in the book that perhaps I was not meant to see, glimpses deeper than the crust and mantle of humanity’s soul—our need for love and life and permanence in the molten core of our being – our want to live and our need to love and be loved, and the often contentious relationship between these concepts that are a fundamental part of the human condition.
I think if you read this book, you will not only be entertained by well written, constant action, a pretty nifty (and somewhat unexpected) love triangle, sneaky spies and corporate agents, but you will also experience the deep satisfaction that comes with knowing that there are people willing to stand against the statistics, against the coldness of impersonal government bodies and cold corporate interests. By the end of the book, we find that vying for the good of a few abused workers does indeed ensure the good of the many–perhaps all of civilization.
You can find the book here.
You can find the author’s website here.
Until next time, I’ll keep the lantern lit.