Friday, July 2, 2010

This Burning Life

The second novel based on the EVE Online massively-multiplayer cut-throat spaceship and economy simulator, This Burning Life by Hjalti Daníelsson takes the opposite approach to the universe from last years EVE novel, The Empyrean Age by Tony Gonzales (Pb $14.95).

This Burning Life starts right at the bottom of the EVE universe’s food chain, with a man named Drem and a girl named Ralea.

Drem is an ordinary guy, living an ordinary life. Well, alright, he lives in a domed colony on a low-orbiting spaceport moon, and is a citizen of a religious fundamentalist faction obsessed with blood. Drem’s relatively ordinary life is cut short by a rampaging Capsuleer, a human who through cybernetic enhancement is able to directly interface his mind with a spaceship, and through cloning is effectively immortal, his consciousness being downloaded to a new clone in the event of his death. Drem survives the attack on his colony, but loses everything. Consumed by a desire for revenge, Drem seeks out the militant wing of his people, the Blood Raiders, and engages in an impossible quest for vengeance, only to be pulled from the claws of oblivion at the last second by the most unlikely of saviors, and given a fresh start. But will the benevolence and good-will of his new benefactors cure Drem of his lust for revenge? Or give him just the tools he needs to accomplish it?

On the other side of the New Eden star cluster, the hedonistic excess of two Gallente mission agents ends in murder. The power of the wealthy and prestigious profession of liaising with Capsuleers, and the guilt and depression of the responsibility for those dead at the ‘hands’ of her clients, drives Ralea to the darker side of society. When things spiral out of control, Ralea’s friend Heci drags her out of both her personal hell, and the entire Gallente Federation. Ralea and Heci travel the cluster, in an effort to both evade detection by Federation forces and to find new meaning in their lives, but it seems everywhere they go they run in to more corruption and hypocrisy, and that they can never quite escape the reach of their home nation. Is there a true purpose out there for Ralea and Heci, or are they chasing ghosts in a universe riddled with conflict and prejudice?

This Burning Life explores the lives and motivations of the little people in EVE Online’s society, detailing the lives of the everyman in both the high security space of the four empires, as well as the lives of those living under the pirate factions that stalk the low security regions of New Eden. The book is an intriguing open window on the realm of the secondary characters, not just in EVE, but in media in general. This is a book about the extras, the stand-ins and the background characters. This is a book about the characters that work hard behind the scenes to give us the worlds in which the ‘main’ characters operate.

To quote Eldon Tyrell “The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly”

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