Chaos Vector – The Protectorate: Book Two, Megan E. O’Keefe,
Orbit, 546 pp, PB £9.99
Reviewed By Steve Dean
This is the second book in the presumed trilogy, and although I haven’t read the first book, it didn’t spoil my reading experience of this one.
So, with that out of the way, let’s get down to it. Chaos Vector is set in the year 3543. Humanity has bludgeoned its way across space using Casimir gates, far-future technology that forces a portal through space-time to an unknown destination. The knowledge required to create these gates is strictly limited and stored in chips inside the heads of elite individuals known as Keepers.
Sanda Greeve is the sister of one such Keeper. Following events that happened in book one, she finds herself carrying a chip in her own head. (We’re talking microchips here, in case you’re wondering, not deep-fried potato sections.) That chip holds the co-ordinates to a dead gate, a Casimir gate that doesn’t lead anywhere. As it turns out, people are willing to do anything to get hold of that data by any means necessary, including cutting her open to pull it out. Naturally, Sanda doesn’t like that idea, and as she’s also been framed for murder by some fake news, she goes on the run.
Besides Sanda’s personal problems, the sphere of humanity has a few problems of its own; namely impending war, political shenanigans (sounds familiar), and a shadowy threat from a secret and very powerful organisation.
The first few chapters of the book are a bit of a slow burn as we’re introduced to the characters, and the events of book one are recapped. It soon kicks up a gear, and we’re off on a thrill ride across the galaxy. Don’t expect huge space battles and robot armies, this is a book about people. Yes, there are spaceships and computer AI and other wonders of science fiction, but they never overshadow the characters.
Besides the complex plot and the excellent world-building, it’s the characters who make this book so good. They’re all fully-formed people who had a life before the events of these books, and, if they survive, will continue afterwards. They’re so well-formed it’s as if the author went into the future to interview real people. Sanda is the obvious hero here, who’s trying her best but makes mistakes just like anyone. Other characters are sometimes on her side, sometimes not, and have their own agendas.
Overall, this was one of my favourite reads this year. It’s very well written, the plot makes sense in the world it’s set in, and the characters are excellent. With over 500 pages it’s also good value. The best recommendation I can give it is I will be buying books one and three with my own money!