By John Park

janusA lot of SF novels rise or fall on the strength of their basic concept. In Ottawa-author John Park’s debut novel it’s a winner: people are leaving Earth by way of a sort of wormhole known as the Knot and settling on a new planet called Janus. The twist is that many of the colonists on Janus have trouble remembering their previous lives on Earth, and a rumour begins to circulate that Janus is actually a penal planet populated by criminal psychopaths who have had their memories wiped. Which means that total recall is likely to get messy.

Janus is imagined as a place that hosts an intriguing blend of old and new technologies: neuroscience and the talking cure, spaceships and dirigibles. Park’s writing sometimes works too hard, especially in the bedroom, but his premise is both clever and original, and has enough of a paranoid spin to it to maintain suspense throughout.

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