Joe Hendry leads a pretty simple life. It’s the late 21st century, and the former pilot on the Earth to Mars run is the last resident of Melbourne, Australia. Or as near as you can get to Melbourne, what with the rising sea level and all. His vegetable garden usually produces enough food for him to eat, and he supplements that with whatever small, oily fish his nets pull out of the sea.

“The launch of a dirigible never failed to fill Ehrin with excitement.”

page 115

Joe suddenly finds himself as a last-minute replacement on the colony ship Lovelock, humanity’s last-gasp attempt to escape a dying planet. As a member of the small command team, Joe is awakened from cryo-sleep when the Lovelock crash-lands on their destination planet. Only it isn’t just a planet, it’s a helix of thousands of planets, that appears to have been created.

They set about searching for a habitable place to establish their colony, and trying to discover how the Helix was created, and who built it. From there, it becomes a futuristic planes, trains and automobiles story as they venture from world to world on their search.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

Helix involves really advanced technology (interplanetary/interstellar spaceships, and computer implants for controlling said ships), aliens (lots of aliens), and the future. And there’s even a bit of a steampunk angle, complete with airships.

The sequel was nominated for the 2012 Philip K Dick award.

Rating (4 stars)

The beauty of the Helix is that there are thousands of worlds to explore. Each one is populated with a completely different mix of plants, animals, and sentient beings. Each world is a new chance to explore and discover. And each world brings us closer to understanding the origin of the Helix, and finding a place for the remains of humanity to start their colony.

My one complaint with Helix is that it tends to be a bit of a downer – it starts in a not-so-distant future that has been wrecked by what is happening in the present, and that pessimistic view of earth’s future comes up several times throughout the book. This isn’t whether I agree or disagree with that view of the future, I just like my books to be more optimistic.

On the good side, one of the main characters is an airship designer.