A Review of A King of Infinite Space

A King of Infinite Space (Near Space, #5)A King of Infinite Space by Allen Steele

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a unique, enjoyable light sci fi novel. It starts with Alec Tucker, his girlfriend Erin, and his best friend Shemp going to Lollapalooza, getting wasted and dying in a car wreck. Next thing you know, Alec wakes in a white room, young, bald, naked, and with amnesia. There are others in the room too. He has to have basic things explained to him, such as how to eat, urinate properly, dress himself, etc. There’s also a computer chip in his head explaining things to him. He later names this chip, “Chip.” He’s visited by a robed man named John and he discovers that memories gradually start to return. Eventually he becomes somewhat self sufficient, and is taken out of the white room into the “castle” where he is turned into a servant, made to mop floors all day long. This is ironic because he was a rich, spoiled brat who had servants of his own growing up and who lived off of his father’s money his whole life.

Eventually, he remembers Erin and Shemp and to his surprise, finds Shemp, looking quite different, working alongside him. They find out they’re “guests” of one Mister Chicago, and later they find out 104 years have passed since their deaths, and that they were given gifts of immortality through cryogenics by their families. Essentially their heads were cut off and frozen and Mister Chicago has gotten some of these “deadheads” from the now bankrupt company. The rest were shipped off to a research university.

Alec finds that while Mister Chicago confides some things in him, he also has an evil side to him, as he witnesses him killing his top deadhead. Alec then swears to escape what he has learned he is on — an asteroid barreling through space millions of miles from Earth. He eventually escapes, with Chip’s help, is taken on by a traveling freighter and is dropped off on a world where he hoped the other deadheads are located, because he’s found out Erin was frozen too and he wants to reunite with her. Shemp, meanwhile, has taken over for John and has become a complete asshole. He, his girlfriend Anna, and a “Superior” wielding a sword track Alec down, but he escapes and makes his way to the moon, where the university is located. He gets a job as a custodian there, makes it down to a guarded level, accesses a computer with Chip’s aid, and finds where the other deadheads are stored. Then something bad happens. He can’t access Chip anymore and he hears Mister Chicago’s voice. He makes a mad dash for the deadheads, finds Erin, but she isn’t the same, and he’s confused. Then, there are explosions and the others who have been chasing him close in on him and he’s captured.

Okay. I’m going to stop there because I don’t want to give away the ending. Sorry. Or you’re welcome. Whichever. Suffice it to say that I’ve read some people thought the ending was weak, but it had what I like in endings — total surprise for me. I didn’t expect it to turn out the way it did, so that was cool. I think this is probably a four star book, but I’m giving it five because it’s so original. I mean, the asteroid was named after Jerry Garcia! It’s also a coming of age novel. We see Alec grow. That’s got to count for something. Original book, good, quick read. Recommended.

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