Half Way Home

Half Way Home
By Hugh Howey

Half Way Home is a 2010 book by Hugh Howey that was, for some reason, re-released in 2019. I don’t think it holds up that well against his more recent work but it does give some early indication of where he was going.

What we have here is basically a retelling of The Lord of the Flies, with a colony of teenagers finding themselves on another planet after their ship’s AI fails to fully abort their mission. Once again the reset button has been pressed on civilization, a frequently recurring theme in today’s SF. But where Golding’s classic novel is pessimistic in its depiction of tribal human nature taking over Howey is more hopeful about our ability to triumph over adversity, in the form of the devil in the machine and a few bad apples.

I found Half Way Home to be readable but light, and not just for being aimed at a YA audience. There is a tendency in our more optimistic SF writers to see human evil as not inherent but something artificial and thus capable of being corrected or overcome. It’s not a point of view I share, and I find the politics of these books can sometimes get preachy, but as an antidote to the more misanthropic turns our dystopian fiction has been taking it’s worth considering.

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