The Burning Light by Bradley P. Beaulieu and Rob Ziegler
In this awesome dystopian sci-fi, Colonel Chu is on the hunt for “Light” junkies – and now she’s about to encounter Zola, a woman who the Light itself has focused on. In an epic showdown of telepathy, guns, and a mysterious force that may spread to every mind in the desolate city, it’s Chu versus Zola. But who says either one will win?
Publisher’s Description: Disgraced government operative Colonel Chu is exiled to the flooded relic of New York City. Something called the Light has hit the streets like an epidemic, leavings its users strung out and disconnected from the mind-network humanity relies on. Chu has lost everything she cares about to the Light. She’ll end the threat or die trying.
A former corporate pilot who controlled a thousand ships with her mind, Zola looks like just another Light-junkie living hand to mouth on the edge of society. She’s special though. As much as she needs the Light, the Light needs her too. But, Chu is getting close and Zola can’t hide forever.
A thrilling and all-too believable science fiction novella from the authors of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai and Seed.
Possible spoilers beyond this point
Kat Mandu says…
This is absolutely fascinating. The world-building is incredible – a futuristic setting with dystopian theme and sci-fi feels, it takes place in a forlorn New York that’s been flooded. Now Melody Chu and her military team, all connected by telepathic thought, are on the hunt for a group of Light-junkies and zealots, scouring the old, run-down skyscrapers for all their hidey holes.
The Light is a mysterious force that some see as a plague, infecting the telepathic minds of some of the greatest people (including Chu’s sister, Joy, and Zola) and turning them into addicts who are disconnected from the main mind channel that connects about a hundred or so minds at once. Zola knows the Light is dangerous, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing as she works to understand what it wants from her.
Chu has lost her sister to it – and Zola ended up escaping just as Chu came for her. But now Zola’s on the run, trying everything she can to stay hidden while still trying to get a fix. But then Chu finds her and her lover, and there’s a lot of loss that comes from the battle on the physical and mental planes.
I loved it. The language is unique and it took me a bit to really flow into, but I liked this strange world and the people who inhabit it. Both Chu and Zola have their own unique background and reasons behind seeking out the Light and I love the flashbacks that tell their stories.
I’ve read quite a few reviews about people not liking the fact that “the Light” is not explained. Is it a religious being? A high that is brought on by the ultimate belief? Or is it just a strange force connected to the telepathic link everyone seems to share, whether they’re connected to the main channel or by the Light?
I find I don’t need an answer to this. After all, do we have all the answers about religion? No, everyone has their own opinions on faith and how it works. I love that this “Light” is both terrible and great, and that it’s a mystery to everyone who yields it or doesn’t.
Overall, I recommend this short story (I actually found it through TOR’s online magazine) to anyone who is a fan of unique sci-fi worlds and badass female characters.