Self-Publishing Review of Endless Fall of Night

The ultimate black sheep in a ruling class of oppressors is sent off-world to unravel a deadly mystery in Endless Fall of Night by J.M. Erickson.
In this racially divided vision of the future, pure-bred patricians hold the status, capital, rights, and power, while the poor plebs and slaves live with a boot on their neck. Contraband and ideas from the old world are strictly forbidden, replaced by brutal allegiance to species apartheid, and a twisted devotion to implanted Big Brother tech. Cassie, the rebellious ninth daughter of a first-class patrician family, is thrown in jail for insurrectionist behavior, but when her name appears in a cryptic SOS from Mars, she and her newly reconnected AI are forced to tag along.
Due to her elevated status, Cassie is the key to incredible wealth and influence, a fact her sinister captain and captor understand all too well. However, once they land on Mars, they discover that the planet's riddles, mutants, and underground secrets may threaten to shake the foundations of humanity forever. Carefully developed relationships between Cassie and Aletheia, as well as Lt. Thomas, round out the unpredictable and fast-moving plot, which veers from political intrigue and military procedure to sci-fi experiments gone right and screeds on progressive philosophy.
The authoritarian future that Erickson imagines should be enough to send a shudder through any reader, but many of the most chilling points of the premise have roots in contentious issues of the real world. The rewriting or complete elimination of critical history, growing nativist and ethno-nationalist movements, and the zombie-like return of eugenics and slavery-adjacent domination are real threats that the author plays out to their darkest ends. Like all great sci-fi and dystopian fiction, this work is a warning, albeit an entertaining one, forcing readers to consider hard questions.
The story isn't just a vehicle for social criticism, however, as Erickson also creates a compelling hero in Cassie - a revolutionary from within the belly of the beast, using the tools of the master to deconstruct the master's house, as it were. The expansion of Aletheia after being turned back on adds an almost supernatural element to the story, enhancing Cassie's perceptions and abilities by spreading out within her brain, hinting at the vast potential of this paradigm-changing technology. The imaginative advancement of AI as a sentient cognitive companion is also a unique twist on a technology that is appearing more and more frequently in speculative fiction, as well as daily life.
With story-crafting this detailed, creative, and impactful, the prose itself needs to match up in terms of quality, but the exposition can be overly blunt and dry, without colorful descriptions to place readers in the scene. Dialogue is also commonly used as a vehicle for plot movement, but the exchanges don't always feel authentic, nor consistent with established patterns of speech and formality.

New book out by J.M. Erickson

That being said, blindside story twists, bursts of clever banter, boundless imagination, and sly social critique make this darkly prophetic work of sci-fi a quick and memorable read.

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