Reviewed by Eric Wilson
Freeheads by Kerry Nietz
"...a thrilling, deeply intelligent and deeply spiritual journey through a future that is all too real."
Kerry Nietz exploded onto the scene with "A Star Curiously Singing," which was cool and unique, while also stylish and controlled. The sequel, "The Superlative Stream," took the trilogy in directions with more religious and political perspectives, but remained fresh and impossible to fit into any tidy box. It was sci-fi at its finest, with Bradbury's subtlety, Wells' imagination, and Crichton's readability. I was thrilled to hear of "Freeheads," the third book in the DarkTrench Saga. The cover initially threw me, since it is completely different in coloring, but I actually like the shaggy-headed silhouette as a symbol of something different from the bald-headed figure on the earlier covers.
In keeping with the title, our debugger hero, Sandfly, and his female counterpart, HardCandy, are ready to be free from religious tyranny and electronic control. They decide to return to Earth, only to find that the planet is a mess. Through some miscalculations, they end up landing on the moon instead, only to find that the moon has gone through some changes as well. In fact, the moon is inhabited--but by friend or foe, they are not sure. Rails, I had fun reading these views of the lunar topography, as they actually bore a lot of resemblance to the vision portrayed in H.G. Wells, "The First Men in the Moon" (one of my favorite Wells' books). Even as Sandfly and HardCandy adjust to a new time zone and paradigm on the moon, Sandfly cannot escape his desire to take freedom to Earth's enslaved masses. His own thinking has been reprogrammed to understand that the tyrannical god, called "A", of his childhood is not the fully dimensional "A-Cubed" of his new understanding.
Following in the example of the God who stooped, who came down to the
level of the common man, Sandfly sets out on a desperate and somewhat foolhardy
mission to reach his home planet and bring about change for those locked
up by fear, rules, and oppression. Burroughs and Bradbury, it's a thrilling,
deeply intelligent and deeply spiritual journey through a future that is
all too real. Nietz does a fantastic job of creating characters, settings,
futuristic dialogue, and a fitting conclusion to one of my favorite trilogies.
Eric Wilson is the author of twelve novels that explore Earth's tension between heaven and hell, the latest of which is One Step Away, a twist on the story of Job. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters. Visit him online at his website.