HADRON AGE SF (21)
May 24, 2022
One in a series of posts about the 75 best sf adventures published during the genre’s Hadron Age era (from 2004–2023, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For Josh Glenn’s Hadron Age Sci-Fi 75 list (a work in progress), click here.
Madeline Ashby’s Company Town (2016).
New Arcadia, a a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, is more or less owned by Zachariah Lynch, patriarch of a wealthy family of energy barons, who has revitalized “Company Town” by using it to develop an alternative undersea reactor. Most of the city’s inhabitants have been gene-tweaked or augmented with implants — and can therefore be hacked. Go Jung-Hwa, a close-combat whiz working as a bodyguard for New Arcadia’s sex workers’ union, is an exception; despite having been born with a syndrome that leaves her seizure-prone and disfigured, she is unmodified. Hired to provide training and protection for the teenaged Joel Lynch, she finds herself not only going back to high school but dealing with death threats — seemingly coming from another timeline — that may be targeting Joel, or her sex worker friends… or Hwa herself. (Fans of the movie Outland will appreciate the isolated setting and atmosphere.) There’s a political and economic angle, here, too: Thanks to her new gig, Hwa has access to privileged information — which leads to revelations about unsettling plans in store for her community. And meanwhile an unlikely romance — with Daniel, head of Joel’s security detail — also complicates things for our emotionally shut-down heroine.
Fun facts: “It’s a novel about not having access to the things that other people do that make them feel valid and desirable, like body modifications and augments and abilities and the money that makes all those things possible,” Ashby has said in an interview. “It’s a novel about never feeling good enough, about always feeling like you have to apologize just for existing….”
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST HADRON AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES.