If you are a fan of science fiction bounty hunter type stories in the likes of “The Roak” series by Jake Bible or “The Coilhunter” series by Dean Wilson, you will find the first book in the “Children of Titan” series called “Titanborn” to be a welcomed listen. The book is very well written by Rhett C. Bruno and the audiobook narration is skillfully performed by one of my favorites; R. C. Bray. This book is the first I have listened to, written by Mr. Bruno, and I do not think it will be my last. If you are a fan of science fiction, action, adventure, suspense, along with quite a few twists and turns, I recommend you pick up this audiobook and give it a listen. The story felt more like I was watching a movie unfolding than listening to an audiobook. Even though the book was detailed and complex, the author did a good job of leaving out some of the more extraneous information that can clog up a work. The book felt tight and on point having multidimensional characters and well-crafted scenes and technology.
The world, both our planet and others in our solar system, are very different from how we know them today. In the not so distant future, a devastating event happens when a meteor (or m-day) thrusts humankind out to the edges of our solar system in an attempt to survive. Our story takes us from Earth, to the moon, and a small trip to Mars, before bringing the party close to the rings of Saturn where we find Titan. The story feels large and expansive which is a good thing for a science fiction space series. Our main character (Malcolm) is a rather rough bounty hunter who often does not care about why he is doing something, it is more about how much he will be paid for a successful job. Our aging bounty hunter reminds me a bit of a futuristic Dirty Harry or Charles Bronson type character from the 80s. Unlike those men, our main character in this story has an augmented savant side-kick name Jaf who tags along. Both of these men are sent to Saturn’s moon Titan to track down and stop a group blamed for an earlier bombing that occurred on Earth. As with many other books in this genre, there are a number of evil corporations vying for turf in the expanding resources being uncovered on other planets or moons. Yet, we see a number of resistant groups, off-worlders, as they are called, who escape in to the wild west of our solar system to flee corporate tyranny. Most of these people have suffered much and will not go down without a fight; that is why Malcolm and his partner are brought in to make things right; or will they make them worse
Instead of evolving into a better society for our future, in this book we see that all of the populated parts of the solar system have degraded into a gritty and grimy place where you either conform, corrupt, or collide with the law; often run by companies. Yet, we see that even in this story, there are places where not even the law feels safe treading, so that is when you send in a bounty hunter. There is a fair amount of drinking to help make the hurt go away, some strong vulgar language, and even the ever-present profession of prostitution. Those who are successful or at least surviving are the ones who provide these key necessities to the population. After the Armageddon event, one of the core corporations (Pervenio) provided the means for the population to work and earn a living by mining resources off world. What seems like a rather mundane job, turns into a live and death battle. Add in some earlier family troubles and you have a good idea of what you will hear while listening to this book.
What would I have liked to have seem more of? I am a person who enjoys tech and the actual events that occur during space travel. I felt the author focused more on the procedural chase and left out more of the detailed aspects around space travel itself. We often are transferred in a flash from one planet to another with only slight information on the perpetration necessary for both departure and landing including the impact such travel often has upon the human body. Some of the details provided around the space suits were welcomed along with the differences in gravity while on the various planets. I simply would have like more scientific data and research backing up the story. Knowing it is a piece of fiction, I can suspend belief in a few areas and the tale is still quite engaging and entertaining.
I have been a fan of R. C. Bray’s narration for years now, and I was excited to see him performing this new science fiction series. He has a smooth yet gritty voice that does the main character justice in this book. He is also a skilled narrator who is able to give each character their own unique characteristics and personality. Although Jaf was often an annoying sidekick, in my opinion, Mr. Bray did an exceptional job of giving him life and feeling that matched his character. I very much like when a narrator is able to complement the story instead of distracting from it. The audio itself was clean and clear of any noticeable artifacts such as page turns, swallows, etc. As well, the book’s volume and pacing were consistent. If you are ever looking for a solid narrator, I suggest you listen to a few of the performances by Bray.
For parents or younger readers, I would say this book is more geared toward a mature audience. As stated previously, there is alcohol and drug use, sexual themes, and some heavy vulgar language. Nothing was excessive compared to other works in the genre but be aware they are here in this book as well. I understand when an author attempts to construct a specific type of world and these items are often to get a point across. If you are easily offended by any of the above, I would recommend you locate a different series.
In summary, Titanborn looks like it is off to a good start as a new science fiction bounty hunter series. Although most of the story’s plotlines were closed when the last chapter was heard, there are a number of remaining questions leaving way for the next in the series. If you like your science fiction to be gritty and, in some ways, dark (think Blade Runner), I think you are going to enjoy this book and the ones to come.