Downbelow Station (Company Wars, #1) by C.J. Cherryh Rothdas book review RSS
5.0 Stars

While slightly space opera-ish, this book mainly looks at the people who are usually on the sidelines of such stories. The novel focuses on the politics and life experiences of refugees, workers, administrators, and merchants caught up in an escalating war between two great powers. The common dilemma they face is how to react in the face of threats and coercion by the warring military powers. How much should they cooperate, how much of their old life can they save, and how can they protect their loved ones are the common questions. The writing and characterization are surprisingly good, and this would have been a fine story absent any of its sci-fi trappings.

The book does have some unfortunate flaws. The first and last 5 pages of the book are horrible. The first 5 pages have terrible world building, including manned sub-FTL ships which are apparently hauling minerals back to Sol from distant stars. I nearly stopped reading at that point. Fortunately, the world building improves from there, and most of the other tech details are left safely vague. The last 5 pages have a variety of well developed characters, who have spent the last 400 pages being murderous and amoral players of power politics, breaking character and suddenly deciding that they are in a different novel altogether. Additionally, there are some fuzzy type aliens who occasionally interject themselves into the story. These sections were very uneven, with some parts being great (seeing the sun from space), and others being eminently skimmable.