Helix, by Eric Brown, is an exciting space romp.
Earth sends a colony ship to the stars as a last-ditch effort to give humanity a future. But when something happens to the ship along the way, the crew must crash-land on the closest planet. Though it’s not exactly a normal planet. It’s a part of a created helix of connected worlds revolving around its sun. The surviving crew decides to go in search of a hospitable world to begin their settlement. But along the way, they encounter hostile aliens, harsh environments, and a group of religious fanatical aliens bent on killing all who oppose them.
The story bounces back and forth mainly between the characters Joe Hendry, a human on board the colony ship, and Ehrin Telsa, a native of one of the planets in the helix. As the story progresses, their stories intertwine. And we are able to follow their growth as characters along their path of discovery of what the helix is and who the builders were.
The story keeps an exciting, fast pace throughout most of the novel, as mortal danger constantly looms. Reminiscent of the Catholic church in the times of the Inquisition, the religious fanatical aliens are the main threat. Though the description of the interplanetary ziggurat structures was a bit confusing, I found it was a minor detail in an otherwise unique idea. Far from being hard science fiction, Helix is an ideal space opera, complete with larger than life characters and a bit of romance.