Overview: Final Solution is an interplanetary, hard science fiction thriller set in the near future in which two rival corporations, who are essentially sovereign nations, face down one another with their last remaining warships. The resulting conflict is a high stakes duel, the winner of which will determine the lives of those on Mars. The story’s main character, and POV, David Goddard, is part of The Brethren military, Mars and Saturn’s dominate ruling authority. When a rival startup, The Axis, begins to colonize the moons of Jupiter, cutting in to The Brethren’s profits trading with Earth, a political conflict arises that within a few years devolves into trade sanctions. The Axis solidifies The Brethren’s ill sentiments by bombing Ceres station and killing hundreds. In the wake of this attack, both factions mobilize, constructing small fleets of warships to meet future threats and protect interest. After several years of bloody war, and extended cold war, the factions’ combat ready numbers are each reduced to a fleet of 1. The Axis makes a move to end this conflict by heading to Mars with the intention of nuking Arsia Mons and Valles Rojo (it’s primary settlements), and so The Brethren moves into action, thrusting David Goddard, a two year vet with a guilty past, back into action.
“Final Solution” plays out as a mix of “Hunt for Red October” and “The Martian”, with both military engagement and technical threats. The dangers of this mission do not fall solely on the back of their enemy’s ship (which even at millions of miles distance can fire, and does fire, back), but on the dangers of space itself and threats within the ship. This dynamic makes for an interesting mix of intrigue, uneasiness, and action, told within the space of a hard science fiction narrative.
If you’re not familiar to the term “hard science fiction” here’s a little graph I made to explain.
When I set out to write “Final Solution”, I did so with the intention of writing a story with robust characters in a plausible, near future, interplanetary setting. The story was first inspired by reading up on ion propulsion for fun. Yay for nerds. Where I’ve perhaps taken some liberties in how quickly humanity has advanced by the 2070’s, I have more than made up for this in its interesting use of real technology. The ships are smallish, light, cramped, and though they move pretty fast (upwards of 160 km/s at the apex of their continuous acceleration), the story takes place over five months as they travel between their starting points, Europa and Enceladus, to intercept one another at Mars.
But is this story all science and politics? All techno babble and terminology that will put you to sleep? No. Hell no.
“Final Solution” straddles the fence. There are some pretty technical parts, for which I spent a great deal of time researching, but it’s not my aim to keep you there. Text book transposition can only be so interesting in a story marketed as “a thriller”. The chapter structure stays on the lean side (with the exception of a few), and the action is constant, allowing few seldom breaks for you to breathe.
Additionally, as I am sadly a hopeless romantic at heart (certainly a lover not a fighter), there is an integral romantic aspect to the story, however, it is not the focus. The true focus of “Final Solution” is a simple question humans have dealt with ever since the start recorded history, “When you do evil to others, how can you make up for it?”. An eye for an eye, leaves everyone blind.
How can we come back after so much wrong has been done, or do we just keep fighting till everyone is dead? Mutually assured destruction at our own hands. This has been a popular topic of discussion ever since the Cold War, and one that warrants exploring again and again. What truly makes someone evil? Their background? Being that they weren’t lucky enough to be born in the same country, or the same color as you?
If enough of us won’t stand up and say, “No, it ends here, right now,” then one day, humanity will no longer be able to see. Blindness will be our state.
Till next time, keep your eyes on the sky, and your dreams on the beyond.