Frank Chadwick’s How Dark the World Becomes is a space opera, adventure science fiction novel from Baen Books. I’ll admit that I was somewhat dubious about a “new” author, but I quickly became fully absorbed in the story of Sasha Naradnyo.
At first glance he is an utterly reprehensible character: he’s a mid-level crime boss who makes money from running gambling rackets and drugs. Yet this is a universe where humans survive on the margins of society, where they are welcome only in areas of brute labor, violence, and crime. Sasha is only a criminal because it is the only way for him to rise… but he also gives back in the form of funding a local hospital and protecting those he can from the harsh universe.
We don’t see much of Sasha as a criminal, instead, we come to him as he transitions, forced out of his previous life and into a wider world as he shows his true colors by protecting two children and their keeper. The writing is fast-paced and the universe is gritty and everything about it feels like one of the noir crime detective novels.
It is a fantastic read from a great author. I went from hating the main character to giving him a grudging respect that surprised me. Frank Chadwick doesn’t pull any punches, he delves into the darkness of his universe, taking his characters and putting them through the wringer and making it very clear from the beginning that no one – not even the main character – is safe.
I’ll note, this isn’t a book I would read when I’m in a dark mood. It’s gritty and in your face, not a cheerful or inspirational story, but one with a world-weary main character who has almost everything stripped from him.
The exciting debut of a nonstop noir SF from legendary game creator Frank Chadwick. With one single act of kindness, a tough-as-nails hood with a heart of gold saves two alien children from assassination—and resets the balance of galactic power in the process.
Sasha Naradnyo is a gangster. He’s a gangster with heart, sure, but Sasha sticks his neck out for no man. That’s how you stay alive in Crack City, a colony stuffed deep into the crust of the otherwise unlivable planet Peezgtaan. Alive only—because if you’re human, you don’t prosper, at least not for long. Sasha is a second generation City native. His parents came to this rock figuring to make it big, only to find that they’d been recruited as an indentured labor force for alien overlords known as the Varoki.
Now a pair of rich young Varoki under the care of a beautiful human nanny are fleeing Peezgtaan, and Sasha is recruited to help. All things considered, he’d rather leave the little alien lordlings to their fate, but certain considerations—such as Sasha’s own imminent demise if he remains—make it beneficial for him to take on the job.
But Sasha discovers his simple choice has thrust him into the midst of a political battle that could remake the galactic balance of power and save humanity from slow death by servitude. Now all he has to do is survive and keep his charges alive on a hostile planet undergoing its own revolution.
But it’s the galaxy that had better watch out. For now the toughest thug in Crack City has gotten his first taste of real freedom. He likes it, and wants more.
The stunning debut of a nonstop science fiction noir thriller from legendary game creator Frank Chadwick.
You can find it here on Amazon