Dust is an impressive first long-form story from author Jason Hutt. (Full disclosure – I’ve known the author for about 12 years). It is an examination of the theme of parents and children, set in front of a backdrop of space opera that includes armadas, robots, and genetic engineering. The main characters are Nick, a young man running from a father he can’t understand and Max, an older man running from the tragic death of his only child. Max just so happens to captain a space ship, carrying cargo across the stars; a space ship that provides Nick a way off-planet. Together the two travel to Dust, the last, farthest, and hardest Earth colony. On Dust they quickly become pawns in a bloody conflict.
Possible plot influences for the book range from Josh Whedon’s Firefly to H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. The story reminds me of the young adult sci-fi stories and novels that Robert Heinlein did, early in his career, such as Red Planet.
Dust follows a three-act structure, with economic prose, resulting in a fast paced adventurous read. It is the economy of prose that prevents me from rating the novel higher. For me, science fiction has two primary appeals. First, it often gazes upon a technology and asks the question of “what if?” And second, it can build new worlds, different than our own and full of wonderful things. Dust does take the reader to a distant future, where Earth has many colonies. It’s a slightly dystopian future, but very believably an evolution of our own – a place where corporations are more powerful than governments – a place where technology continues forward, but resources are dwindling. It’s a world full of conflict, but the tight focus of the story on the two protagonists spares little verbiage for coloring that world. Dust left me hungry for more information about the universe it inhabits – hungry enough to hope for a sequel.
Dust is available at Amazon in both paperback and Kindle format.