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BOOK REVIEW: FTN reviews The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

July 30th, 2013 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

The Darwin Elevator
Written by:
Jason M. Hough.
Published by:
Titan Books July 2013.

‘The builders came to Earth and constructed an elevator from Darwin Australia into space. No one knows why or if they will return. Years later a virus ravaged the planet. The rare immunes survived, others became something less than human. How the elevator suppresses the disease, and why, remains unknown. But scientist Dr Tania Sharma has a terrifying theory …

As Darwin collapses under the onslaught of refugees, reluctant Captain Skyler Luiken and his scavenger crew scour the wasteland outside the elevators protective aura for essential resources.

But when the alien technology fails, will humanity survive?’

The first book in the Dire Earth Cycle series is a thrilling and distinctive Science Fiction adventure, with plenty of action and politicking set in a unique world with strong, likeable characters: flawed but dedicated heroes and suitably repulsive villains. The main protagonist Skyler Luiken is very likable as a captain that struggles with the burden of leadership. He is a scavenger with a crew that is down-on-its-luck, trying to make ends meet. Hough also does an excellent job with the rest of the cast, particularly Russel Blackfield and Neil Platz. Russel is a petty bully that styles himself as a warlord. He’s an ambitious fellow, determined to gain a seat on the Orbital Council at all costs. Neil is another interesting character; you will spend a lot of the novel trying to figure out his motivations.

I love the setting of this novel, this crumbling world with its one failing glimpse of hope: the elevator. Hough has instilled a lot of character in the environments he writes about. I instantly got a feel for the desperation and nastiness of the city, a city where a bicycle is a valuable commodity and a bicycle repairman is a valuable skill set. This is a future where scavengers have an almost celebrity status among the people, and scientists are despised because they live above the toils and troubles of the city. There is such a striking duality in the divide, and it is only compounded further when Skyler and his crew venture out into The Clear. The imagery is astounding.

This book is hard Sci-fi at its best and is easily one of the best books I have read this year. Jason Hough has style and substance and what impressed me the most about this novel is that it so easily could have just become another Zombie-style story. Instead the novel perfectly travels the line between post- apocalyptic horror and hard Sci-Fi. It’s a sure sign of Hough’s skill as a writer that he is able to effortlessly traverse the fine line that exists between these two respective genres. The fact that these novels are being released back to back just emphasises the confidence the publisher has in Hough’s work and their confidence was not misplaced.

I also really liked the UK cover of this book it screams Sci Fi and perfectly portrays the post- apocalyptic setting but in a future that can technologically cope with alien technology. There are comparisons of the Dire Earth Cycle to Joss Whedon’s Firefly and the works of John Scalzi and this should in itself be enough to catch your interest.

Debut author Jason Hough has created a fantastic future that is fully fit to expand into a full blown franchise. I predict a film – possibly even a television series – based on this series of novels. The Dire Earth Cycle continues in The Exodus Towers released in August 2013 and The Plague Forge released in September 2013.

4 out of 5 Nerds


I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.