Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno
Review by Micael Evan
Let me preface this review by stating that I’m not an avid reader of science fiction. I love Star Wars, and I didn’t mind The Expanse but I’ve often been put off by the overly cognitive nature of some of the “hard Sci-Fi” stories that rely heavily on descriptions of technology and spacecraft navigation.
Rhett Bruno’s absolutely brilliant Titanborn, is a Sci-Fi Novel for readers like me, that love an emphasis on strong characters with well thought out back stories, emotional resonance, intelligent and beautifully built worlds, and plot twists you’ll never see coming.
Titanborn focuses on the events proceeding the arrival of a meteorite hitting the earth and wiping out half of its inhabitants. A Multi-Billionaire industrialist sends 3,000 people to a moon outside of Saturn called Titan, where they colonialize and grow a new existence over a period of 300 years. Meanwhile the survivors on earth rebuild with an emphasis on expansion in order to prevent another apocalypse. Eventually there is enough advancement that “Earthers” are able to reconnect with the people on Titan, but in doing so, the expected happy reunion leads to disaster as the weakened immune systems of the “Ringers” on titan, fall prey to the germs and disease brought in by the Earthers, and eventually the society set up on Titan is destroyed by the immigrant Earthers and their large corporations that easily take control of the Titan society.
The novel centres around Malcolm
Graves, a collector working for Pervenio , one of the Corporations reaponsible for the expansion of Earthers to the ring and other systems. His job is basically to clean up the criminal activity caused by Offworlders. He’s more or less a interplanetary corporate cop. After a suspected terrorist attack on Earth, Malcolm, along with his new Pervenio instated partner Zhaff must investigate the attack and how it relates to an elusive sect of “Titanborn” terrorists known as “The Children of Titan”.
What makes this novel one of the best I’ve read in recent years, is the love and care Rhett Bruno seems to have for his characters, especially Mal Graves, who’s grizzled and hardened exterior, much like a classic Clint Eastwood character stems from one of the most tragic and horrific experiences I’ve read about in recent years, and Bruno ensures that we are given a great deal of flashback sections that shape Graves and make him someone to root for.
Zhaff is also a uniquely written character. An offworld human that we learn is part of the Cogent program, he functions as a supremely intelligent, incredibly agile super soldier type, who’s stoic humourless presence is the perfect foil for Mal’s wisecracking badass. Through expert storytelling and character progression, the unlikely pair begin to function as buddy cops with a learned mutual respect for one another.
Bruno writes with a simple, yet flowing prose and at a perfect pace that makes the book difficult to put down. There are some expertly choreographed action sequences that feel big screen ready, and many moments of genuine suspense. It’s a wild ride in every respect.
This is one of those rare books that I’ve been unable to stop thinking about. There are some truly emotional moments that will make you think about the people you love, as they are so incredibly relatable. Without giving anything away, I will say with great certainty that when you read this book, you will be shocked as everything you think you know will likely be wrong.
Titanborn is the first Rhett Bruno novel I’ve read and I now plan on devouring the other books in this series by this truly gifted new voice in speculative fiction.