Places in the Darkness: A Book Review

Could there ever be a city without crime? This question lures you into Christopher Brookmyre’s sci-fi thriller, Places in the Darkness. The Cuidad de Cielo, orbiting miles above Earth, is teeming with the greatest scientists, technologists, and thinkers. It seems like a utopia of growth and development, but there’s decay lying beneath the surface. There is no truly perfect city, as long as humans live in it.

Places in the Darkness takes off from the perspective of Nicki Fixx, a mildly-corrupt member of the private police force in Cuidad de Cielo. Through her eyes we see the city’s underbelly: the people struggling to make ends meet on a limited stipend, the trade of illegal earth imports, and gang violence. After living in the city for over 10 years, Nicki is essentially a native to the space station. She’s lost her idealistic view of the Cuidad: Nicki knows that no utopian society can perfectly exist.

 

The story then switches to Alice Chen, a political prodigy who has come to take over one of the administrative roles on Cuidad de Cielo. She truly believes in the mission of the city, which is to be a beacon of hope for the future of humanity. When Alice arrives, she’s shocked to discover that everything is not as perfect as it seems. It becomes her mission to restore order.

 

Places in the Darkness puts an interesting twist on the classic science fiction mystery. It focuses on two women (already unusual for this genre) and their complicated friendships, romances, and families. Brookmyre’s novel gives a human perspective to a fantastical tale. One can empathize with his characters along every step of the way, allowing for the reader to more readily accept the technological advances he proposes. This is the perfect book for anyone interested in technology, ethics, humanity’s evolution, outer space, or mysteries.