Outer Earth, Book 1
Tracer is the first of a projected science fiction trilogy. It is set in a future where the Earth has been made uninhabitable due to the mishandling by the people living there. The survivors are living in a crowded space station orbiting above the former home to our species. It is at once dirty as well as overcrowded and with hardly any room for people to live.
Riley Hale is a tracer trying to survive by delivering material sent by individuals and receiving payment in food, water or other tradeable items in conjunction with the group known as the Devil Dancers, with whom she lives. Her group has built a reputation of reliable deliveries and no meddling with the products they carry for their customers. She is secretly loved by Parkesh, a laboratory worker. It would appear that Riley is unaware of Parkesh’s adulation.
Rob Boffard’s strong suit is his ability to bring to life the station in which the action takes place. In too many science fiction stories there are situations and products that are described as being present and not really traceable to anything known today. The space station contains people and materials that are believably products of a forced exodus from a dying earth. The conditions described are certainly attributable to an overcrowded situation that is due to huge masses of people forced to flee to an area many times smaller than they are used to.
With a similarity to other dystopian novels, the space station is ruled by a hierarchy of persons whose sole interest is in retaining power and adding to that by their actions. There is also a villain that has the idea that conditions can be made right if the humans on New Earth are eliminated and a new group allowed to evolve.
Boffard’s ending this first part of his trilogy is neatly done and presents the most likely problems to be taken up in book two, Zero G.
6/16 Paul Lane
TRACER by Rob Boffard. Redhook (June 28, 2016). ISBN 978-0316265270. 448p.