Tor, Aug 2001, 23.95, 317 pp.
After five centuries on Hera, the human colony of Hope is an agricultural society dominated by the Council and the Church. However, the current cycle has been nasty as the five-year summer fails to arrive, leading to a scarcity of food for a hungry populace. On top of that, an alien deadly disease and the arrival of the dangerous Frill shake the planet further. When the King dies, Chief Council Hillor pushes forward his plan to have the wealthy handle food distribution while Church leader Lord Denon turns to the Holy Scripture as written by William Blake for guidance.
Meanwhile a street punk Vel rejects the notion of laboring in the fields because he preferring cons and stealing. That changes when he learns he is in the succession to the vacant throne of Hope. Though he refuses to become involved in the power struggle, Hillor and others want to use Vel. If they cannot, one of the factions or perhaps a Frill will simply kill Vel.
HOPE'S END is an engaging science fiction book that plays out on multiple levels. The coming of age of the hero Vel is the prime theme of the story line, but choices for the other key participants permeate the plot and making it very complex. The novel starts slow so that the readers can understand the fully developed society, but eventually picks up to light year speed. Stephen Chambers provides quite a debut that will rock genre fans with the hope of a new talent for many years to come.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner