The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. HoughThe Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

The Darwin Elevator

byJason M. Hough

Paperback | July 30, 2013

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Jason M. Hough’s pulse-pounding debut combines the drama, swagger, and vivid characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with the talent of sci-fi author John Scalzi.

 
In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.
 
Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.

Praise for The Darwin Elevator
 
“A hell of a fun book.”—James S. A. Corey, New York Times bestselling author of Abaddon’s Gate

“[Jason M.] Hough’s first novel combines the rapid-fire action and memorable characters associated with Joss Whedon’s short-lived Firefly TV series with the accessibility and scientific acumen of [James S. A.] Corey’s ‘Expanse’ series.”Library Journal (starred review)
 
“The best part about alien stories is their mystery, and Jason Hough understands that like no other. Full of compelling characters and thick with tension, The Darwin Elevator delivers both despair and hope along with a gigantic dose of wonder. It’s a brilliant debut, and Hough can take my money whenever he writes anything from now on.”—Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles
 
“Newcomer Hough displays a talent for imaginative plotting and realistic dialogue, and the brisk pacing and cliffhanger ending will keep readers enthralled and eagerly awaiting the next installment.”Publishers Weekly
 
“Jason M. Hough does a great job with this huge story. The world of Darwin and the Elevator is deliciously complex and satisfying. Skyler, Tania, and all the other characters are delightfully drawn and fun to spend time with. . . . The story unfolds with just the right balance of high adventure, espionage, humor, and emotional truth. . . . As soon as you finish, you’ll want more.”Analog
 
A debut novel unlike any other . . . This is something special. Something iconic. The Darwin Elevator is full of majesty and wonder, mystery and mayhem, colorful characters and insidious schemes.”SF Signal
 
“Fun, action-packed and entertaining . . . a sure contender for science fiction debut of the year!”Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist
 
“Claustrophobic, intense, and satisfying . . . I couldn’t put this book down. The Darwin Elevator depicts a terrifying world, suspends it from a delicate thread, and forces you to read with held breath as you anticipate the inevitable fall.”—Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool
Jason M. Hough was born in Illinois, but grew up on the mean streets of suburban San Diego, California. In 1978, at age six, his parents took him to see Star Wars, and so began a lifelong love of sci-fi and all things geek. He later worked for a decade in the videogame industry as both a 3D artist and game designer. Today he lives in S...
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Title:The Darwin ElevatorFormat:PaperbackDimensions:496 pages, 7.5 × 4.2 × 1.14 inPublished:July 30, 2013Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345537122

ISBN - 13:9780345537126

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Sci Fi Been a while since I read some sci-fi, and this was a great book to get me back in the genre. It was fast-paced, interesting, tense, and unique. Looking forward to the next book!
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! Another dystopian future story, but the premise is interesting. The ending is a bit abrupt... unless you know there is a sequel ;-)
Date published: 2013-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great tead. Loved the book.
Date published: 2013-10-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great tead. This was a fun, fast-paced SF adventure with a great premise and excellent worldbuilding. Some real edge-of-your seat scenes, too. Great work from Jason Hough, and well worth the read!
Date published: 2013-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Sci-Fi debut novel You can find this review and others on my book review blog Blood Rose Books (http://j9books.blogspot.com) Jason M. Hough is out with his debut novel that mixes sci-fi and post-apocalyptic genres, where humans are forced to either live in the city of Darwin or in the orbit above the city and there is more than one person that would like to control it all: Sci-Fi is not where I normally read but I was really interested in the premise that was presented for within this book, a post-apocalyptic technological world. I was completely engrossed with this book, yes even though it was sci-fi. I did not want to put this book down, the story, the characters, everything drew me in. This was an amazing debut novel. I will say that Hough is a very smart writer. What is the trend today? Post-apocalyptic stories with zombie or something similar, but it is clear that Hough favours the sci-fi genre, so why not blend the two together? This way you attract to a wider audience and those who would not normally read a sci-fi book (also known as me) are intrigued enough to pick up this book and give it a try because there is an aspect within the book that I know will interest me. I was really happy that Hough did not take the sci-fi aspect too far as if he did I know I would have felt lost. I think that Hough did a great job of writing for the masses and not just those who love the sci-fi genre. I think that this book and series will appeal to a lot of people, especially those who like the sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal and urban fantasy genres. Even those who like to read political based books I think will find this book intriguing because of the complex system of reliance that is built between Darwin, the orbitals and the scavengers and the ever need of people to have all the control and power. I liked the use of the city of Darwin, but also what the word or person that Darwin represents; Survival of the Fittest which is true in this world and any post-apocalyptic novel. It also, for me, meant the evolution of Man and how some of the individuals were immune to the Subs disease and could travel outside of Darwin, while the rest of the population could not without specialized suits. The characters tend to take a secondary role within this book as it is mainly plot driven which also means that we get chapters from different characters, but do not worry this actually enhances the world and plot. The characters that Hough has decided to have chapters from their point of view all have different and unique points of views of what is happening in Darwin, on Earth and in Space. Our main character Skyler is an interesting character as he struggles to be the captain of his crew that he knows they need him to be, but he does not want to fulfill that role. I liked that to begin with Skyler might not be a character you would expect in this type of book, he is not portrayed as a fearless leader ready to do battle and win at all costs and not willing to be taken advantage of. Actually my favorite character is Russell Blackfield the antagonist in the book, who is bad to the core however, you understand some of the actions he takes and the reason behind them but that does not make them the right decisions. Niel Platz is also a different character, who one could take as either a good or bad side of the characters, as he is obsessed with his own survival and the possibility to make money from others needs and survival. The book is at times on the slower side, but this is due to the fact that Hough needs to set up his world and all the politics that surround it, as politics play a major role within this book. I personally did not find that there were too many slow parts, and they were always broken up with an adventure that Skyler and his crew would be on. Hough did a good job on timing and never had two slower chapters in a row. This showed great knowledge of the reader by Hough and I know I appreciated as a slow read is one that I would put down. For someone who does not read and does not really like the sci-fi genre, I was completely enthralled with this book and did not want to put it down. Hough has down a great job of creating a plot, world and characters that will suck readers in. This was a great debut novel and I cannot wait to read the next in the series, as I want to find out about the elusive aliens that changed the world. Enjoy!!!
Date published: 2013-05-14

Read from the Book

Chapter 1   Above the Indian Ocean   12.JAN.2283   Blood streamed down the inside of the tiny vial and pooled at the bottom. A finger, the source of the fluid, knocked against the glass with a dull thud.   Skyler turned the vessel over again. Fresh from its temperature-controlled sleeve, the vial felt cool against his skin. A small refreshment in the otherwise balmy cockpit.   The scene replayed again in his mind. The dead subhuman, half its scrawny body still smoldering, the scent of burned hair so strong that Skyler had retched. Then Samantha, always acting, never thinking, stood triumphant over the corpse. In one swift motionher dark combat knife flashed from a sheath on her calf, flashed again as she brought it down on the poor creature’s hand. Two fingers and half of a thumb skittered away. “Before it all burns,” she’d said.   “We only need one,” Skyler had replied when his nerves allowed.   Hair would have been simpler, cleaner, but the hair had all singed away. A messy piece of work, though the end result was all that mattered, or so he kept reminding himself.   “Visual on the Elevator,” Angus said from the pilot’s chair.   Skyler grunted acknowledgment and flipped the vial over again. The muscular digit was caked with dirt and ended in a yellow, cracked fingernail chewed to uneven length. It almost defied belief that it had been shorn from a once-human hand. Almost.   Even by subhuman standards, this creature had been extraordinarily aggressive. And part of a large pack, twice the typical “family.” Strange, yes, but thankfully in the past now.   He glanced up. Ahead, a series of lights marked the line of the Elevator cord. Eight climbers, Skyler counted, from the peaks of the clouds all the way to the stars above. He watched them long enough to discern which way they were going. Up, at the moment.Air and water then, for the Orbitals. Some spare parts, maybe. A little contraband thrown in for good measure.   He pictured the contents of his cargo bay, flush with spoils from a decaying Malay air force base outside Kuala Lumpur. Tomorrow, maybe the day after, one of those climbers would lift the items stowed back there. Paid for first, of course.   Skyler grinned. Success felt good. He’d almost forgotten the sensation. The finger alone would cover the mission’s cost, if the DNA matched.  “Do you want the stick back?” Angus asked.   The grim, hypnotic spell of watching blood slide down the glass tube vanished with the question. He slipped the vial back into its sleeve and sealed it. Out of pure habit he reached for the flight stick, then stopped himself. Old habits die hard. He balledhis fist and pulled his hand away. “You handle it this time.”   “Sure?”   “You’re ready. Just take it slow.”   Angus turned in the pilot’s seat, trying to see Skyler over his shoulder and failing. A few seconds passed before the kid flashed a halfhearted A-Okay.   The Melville tilted forward and began to descend. Skyler leaned to his left and looked down, watching mountainous clouds rise toward them. Lightning danced beneath the purple morass, which grew and grew until finally the aircraft slipped into the thick haze.  A ghostly fog roiled around the cockpit window for less than ten seconds and then they were through. Once below the storm, monsoon rain pelted the cockpit window and hammered against the fuselage.   Another minute went by before they passed under the storm. Over Darwin itself the sky was clear, such a rare thing in wet season. A nice welcome to their return.   “Aura’s Edge,” Angus said. “In ten, nine . . .”   Skyler closed his eyes. Some small part of him wanted to feel it, wanted to know the Elevator’s strange aura on a physical level. The invisible field emanated roughly nine kilometers out from the space elevator before abruptly ending. It protected thosewithin from the alien disease that had laid waste to the rest of the planet. How, or why, the aura did this was as much a mystery as the Elevator itself.   “. . . five, four . . .”   The shifting, rippling effect ended in a zone coined Aura’s Edge. A no-man’s-land where the protection faded.   Skyler leaned his head back against the copilot’s seat. He would feel nothing. He never did; nor did the rest of his crew. The disease had no effect on them.   They were immune, an inescapable fact. A blessing and curse, a trait few others shared. Very few.   “. . . three . . .”   Though immunity allowed him to leave the city at will, there remained that small part of him that wanted to be normal, to be trapped like all of the rest of them. He didn’t want to be special. Or sought after. Truth be told he’d rather be back in the Netherlands, flying mundane patrols for the air force, living a good life. But that was a long time ago, in a different world.   “. . . two, one . . . mark.”   The aircraft bucked.   Not much, but Skyler felt it. Damn fine timing for a spell of turbulence, he thought. An embarrassed laugh escaped his lips.   Below, out the window, trash fires dotted the city’s edge. Small crowds huddled around the flames for protection more than warmth. The worst-off lived here, so far out from the Elevator, so close to the Clear. Skyler thought it must be like living on theedge of a cliff.   “Weird. Did you feel that bounce?” Angus asked. Then, “Oh, shit. Look at this.”   Skyler glanced up. The kid’s voice had shifted from wonder to fear.   Something had changed, ahead of them. Skyler couldn’t decide what—   “Where’d the climbers go?” Angus asked.   The lights on the cord were gone. “What in the world?”   The wireless crackled. “Melville, this is Nightcliff control,” a panicked voice said over a hiss of static. “What the hell did you do?”   Skyler’s throat went dry. He could only stare at the thin strip of sky where the climbers had been.   “Melville! Answer or be shot down!”   “Angus,” Skyler said, ignoring the radio. “Hover here.”   The kid nodded and tilted the aircraft back, switching to vertical thrust.   “Think, think,” Skyler whispered to himself. He leaned forward in his seat, as if a few extra centimeters would give him a better view. Squinting, Skyler traced a line from the tip of Nightcliff’s tower.   There, against the dim clouds, he saw the black shape of a climber, motionless on the cord. Not vanished, then, just dead.   Loss of power? he thought. It shouldn’t be possible. Something about friction with the atmosphere, he remembered. The Elevator couldn’t help but generate power. In the five years since he first came to the city, he’d never seen Darwin’s skyline withoutthe awe-inspiring sight of climber vehicles gliding their way along the cord, taking fresh air and water up to the Orbitals, or bringing food back down.   “Melville,” came the garbled voice again. “Last warning.”   Skyler absently tapped the transmit button. “Nightcliff, this is the Melville. Don’t fire. We’re holding position. What happened?”  Even as he waited for a response, Skyler saw the beacon lights on the climber cars flicker, then come back on at full brightness.   A few seconds later they turned off again. One by one this time, in perfect sequence from space down to the fortress.   Minutes passed. Skyler felt a trickle of sweat run down the side of his face and he mopped it away with the back of his hand.   A blast of static from the tiny speaker preceded the controller’s voice. “You will reroute to Nightcliff and submit to inspection. Failure to comply will result in the destruction of your vessel. Any delay will result in the destruction of your vessel. You have thirty seconds to acknowledge.”   The order rattled Skyler like a sick joke. The mission had been flawless, a masterpiece, until this. Inspection. He shook his head. All their hard work, dashed with that loaded word.   “What do I say?” Angus asked. He strained against his harness to glance over his shoulder at Skyler.   The young man’s brown eyes pleaded for reassurance. Skyler could only shrug. “Stall,” he said. “I’m thinking.”   He tried to conjure a memory of the last inspection. It must have been two years ago. More than that. They’d claimed fear of a flu epidemic on that occasion. A case of vodka had settled the matter, if he remembered right. He’d been the pilot then, stuckin the cockpit, uninvolved. This time it would be his neck on the chopping block.   The first successful mission in months, since Skyler took over the captain’s chair.   And now this. Inspection. Goddammit.   They probably just wanted a handout. The pick of the litter from a returning scavenger ship. Maybe they’d blinked the climbers’ lights on purpose, now that he thought about it. A clever ploy, really.   He ran through a mental tally of the Melville’s cargo bay. For two days they’d rummaged through the abandoned complex, and they’d packed the old girl full. There’d be no shortage of goods to bribe Nightcliff with. The trick would be steering them awayfrom the high-value items. The specific requests.   The neoprene sleeve hanging from the back of the pilot’s seat caught Skyler’s eye. He thought of the morbid contents within, and the commune that had pooled their money to have the evidence recovered. A lot of money, in fact, along with the promise ofsix crates of fresh food. Even after Prumble’s cut, it was too tempting a reward to pass up. “All we want is to know the fate of our father. Bring us something, anything, that we can give a proper burial.”   Like a finger. Skyler yanked the container from its cord and slipped it into his inner jacket pocket.   He activated the intercom. “Sam, Jake, I need you to bury that welder.”   A few seconds passed before Samantha replied. “We could toss it overboard. Pick it up later.”   “Negative. We’re over the Maze.”   “You’re not going to land, are you? Call their bluff,” she said. “They won’t waste a missile on us.”   Skyler bit back an urge to argue. The welder, a special model suitable for work aboard a space station, had a large reward associated with it. The highest out of everything they carried. Trying to wrestle it back from the occupants of the slum below them would be difficult, and very dangerous.   Angus interrupted the thought. “Five seconds. We’d better answer them.”   Unhappy with the alternative, Skyler sighed. “Acknowledge it. Change course for Nightcliff, and drop to two hundred meters.”   Within seconds the aircraft began to turn and descend. The fortress of Nightcliff, which surrounded the Elevator’s base, came into view.   Samantha’s voice crackled over the speaker. “I guess we’re playing along then?”   “We can’t risk our lift privs, Sam. Can you and Jake go through the crates and put anything valuable at the bottom?”   With a frustrated groan, she said, “Aye, aye,” and clicked off.   Skyler grunted. He thought of placing a few choice items near the door—an unspoken bribe—but that might backfire.

Editorial Reviews

“A hell of a fun book.”—James S. A. Corey, New York Times bestselling author of Abaddon’s Gate“[Jason M.] Hough’s first novel combines the rapid-fire action and memorable characters associated with Joss Whedon’s short-lived Firefly TV series with the accessibility and scientific acumen of [James S. A.] Corey’s ‘Expanse’ series.”—Library Journal (starred review)   “The best part about alien stories is their mystery, and Jason Hough understands that like no other. Full of compelling characters and thick with tension, The Darwin Elevator delivers both despair and hope along with a gigantic dose of wonder. It’s a brilliant debut, and Hough can take my money whenever he writes anything from now on.”—Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles   “Newcomer Hough displays a talent for imaginative plotting and realistic dialogue, and the brisk pacing and cliffhanger ending will keep readers enthralled and eagerly awaiting the next installment.”—Publishers Weekly   “Jason M. Hough does a great job with this huge story. The world of Darwin and the Elevator is deliciously complex and satisfying. Skyler, Tania, and all the other characters are delightfully drawn and fun to spend time with. . . . The story unfolds with just the right balance of high adventure, espionage, humor, and emotional truth. . . . As soon as you finish, you’ll want more.”—Analog   “A debut novel unlike any other . . . This is something special. Something iconic. The Darwin Elevator is full of majesty and wonder, mystery and mayhem, colorful characters and insidious schemes.”—SF Signal   “Fun, action-packed and entertaining . . . a sure contender for science fiction debut of the year!”—Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist   “Claustrophobic, intense, and satisfying . . . I couldn’t put this book down. The Darwin Elevator depicts a terrifying world, suspends it from a delicate thread, and forces you to read with held breath as you anticipate the inevitable fall.”—Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool   “Hough writes with irresistible energy and gritty realism. His puts his characters through hell, blending a convincing plot with heart-stopping action and moments of raw terror as the world goes crazy in the shadow of unfathomable alien intentions.”—Sara Creasy, author of the Philip K. Dick Award–nominated Song of Scarabaeus   “A thrilling story right from the first page . . . This book plugs straight into the fight-or-flight part of your brain.”—Ted Kosmatka, author of The Games   “If you enjoy high adventure with a kick-ass crew, I suggest you take Hough’s Darwin Elevator for a ride.”—Warren Hammond, author of KOP Killer