No one can remember anything–who they are, family and friends, or even how to read. Reality has fragmented and Earth consists of an islands of rock floating in an endless sky. Food, water, electricity–gone, except for what people can find, and they can’t find much. Faller’s pockets contain tantalizing clues: a photo of himself and a woman he can’t remember, a toy solider with a parachute, and a mysterious map drawn in blood. With only these materials as a guide, he makes a leap of faith from the edge of the world to find the woman and set things right. He encounters other floating islands, impossible replicas of himself and others, and learns that one man hates him enough to take revenge for actions Faller can’t even remember.
I really enjoyed Burning Midnight, by Will McIntosh, so when I saw Faller on NetGalley, I just had to request it. I saw that TOR, the granddaddy of science fiction, distributes Faller and so I had high expectations.
The story was pretty good, but I think that McIntosh set the bar so high with Burning Midnight, that I was destined to be disappointed. It’s not that the story was bad or anything, I just wasn’t wowed. It’s a pretty standard post-apocalyptic action adventure science fiction story.
I’m not sure who made the decision to intertwine the current story with an origin story, and the naming/numbering sequence, but when the origin story is introduced after chapter eight, I was kind of annoyed. The first few origin chapters I was tempted to just skim over, but I decided to read it the way it was intended. I’m not sure how I would recommend doing it differently.
McIntosh is obviously a talented author, and I look forward to reading future works from him. Despite my grumbling about the structure of the origin story, I’d still rate Faller four stars.
Will McIntosh is a Hugo Award-winning science fiction author, as well as a finalist for eleven other awards. His alien invasion novel Defenders was optioned by Warner Brothers for a feature film, while Love Minus Eighty, was named the best SF novel of 2013 by the American Library Association. Coming in 2016 are his first young adult novel, Burning Midnight (Penguin Random House), about a pair of teens hunting for mysterious colored spheres that give people enhanced abilities, and the wild SF adventure Faller from Tor Books. Along with four novels that have been translated into five languages, Will has published dozens of short stories in magazines such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and Interzone. His stories are often reprinted in different “Year’s Best” anthologies. Will was a psychology professor before turning to writing full time, and still occasionally teaches a class at The College of William and Mary. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, and is the father of twins.