Not often do you come across a novel that blends action, horror, science fiction, philosophy and politics but Jeff Carlson’s The Frozen Sky does it masterfully. The Frozen Sky was originally released as a novella but has now been expanded into a full novel which adds more characters, more action and more depth to the original story. Set in the distant future the governments of earth have sent several space probes to explore the galaxy and they have found that Europa may have simple life forms and other materials that can be used back home.
A group of archaeologists led by Alexis Vonderach are exploring Jupiter’s moon and the governments of the world are waiting to see what they will uncover. The crew finds more than they bargained for when they find hieroglyphs and other proof of life. Europa is indeed inhabited and the natives don’t like visitors.
The story begins with Alexis running for her life through frozen ravines and canyons of rock while being chased by creatures that resemble starfish. To make matters worse, her spacesuit has an artificial intelligence program that is malfunctioning and it has its own plans for handling the situation. Alexis is left with the decision to destroy the creatures that are pursuing her or communicate with them and hope they understand her. Help is on the way as other Earth ships arrive on Europa, but what are their plans for Europa’s inhabitants? Are the starfish type creatures more advanced then they seem and do they want to destroy us for invading their home?
There is a lot going on in The Frozen Sky and the story works on a lot of different levels. Science Fiction fans get a great description of life on Europa including how the creatures survive, how they communicate and how they changed through the years and you learn how humans advanced through the centuries. It works as an action novel as you hear about the battle between Earth and Europa. It works as a horror novel as the creatures have Alexis on the run with nowhere to go and the story gets philosophical as the humans debate whether they are doing the right thing on Europa. The Frozen Sky also works as a political thriller as it gets into how the governments make deals with each other for what they want out of Europa and how the humans on Europa try to talk them out of it.
You could tell Jeff Carlson did his homework on the recent findings about Europa and did a lot of research on what Europa is like. I loved how this alien world was described. I also liked how the aliens were presented in the story. At first you see them as monsters but you start to learn about the conditions that they live in and how it shaped what they are, you also discover that they are much more than they seem.
Another thing I like is how the mecha works to explore Europa and how the AI works to its own advantage. My favorite part was learning how Europa’s inhabitants evolved and seeing how they go from monsters to sympathetic creatures. You also see how the humans can become monsters and even in the future they’re dealing with a lot of the same issues that we deal with now. The Frozen Sky has something for everyone and is a great read no matter what genre of book that you like.