The Razor by J. Barton Mitchell Macmillan-Tor/Forge Tor Books Sci Fi & Fantasy Pub Date 27 Nov 2018
It isn’t a question of what will kill you on Razor, but what won’t. The Razor is the perfect prison - deadly, impossible to escape, and profitable for the corporation that runs it. Razor is a death sentence, it’s just a matter of how and when - the harsh environment, the brutal guards, Xytrilium exposure, or gang violence. J Barton Mitchell’s world is desolate and harsh, all jagged edges giving a clear feeling of man versus the elements. To survive requires more than will. It requires ingenuity. From the start it is made clear that to survive requires value, leverage. A deal can keep you alive. Flynn, Key, Maddox and Raelynn have all made deals, but whether they will survive is in doubt. At a signal, the mining platforms are scuttled and the prisoners are left to fend for themselves. Flynn and Key have a chance - retrieve some data and they will be rescued. But what they and the others find is a planet of secrets, some more horrifying than they could ever imagine.
Mitchell’s protagonists come together in a believable way. They aren’t friends, but become something more as they work together to survive. Light, dark, good, evil -there are no absolutes in Mitchell’s Razor, because survival takes compromise. What we know affects the decisions we make. Flynn is a genius, but the results of his actions are undetermined. He has brought hope to the survivors, but he has also unleashed something powerful and alien.
The Razor is an incredible novel, made all the more real by the characters’ need to make tough choices in order to survive. Cooperation is a necessity, even if one of the people you are dealing with is the devil herself. I hope there will be a sequel.
5 / 5
I received a copy of The Razor from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
"J. Barton Mitchell's The Razor is cutting-edge SF." —Matthew Costello, author of Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier Brilliant engineer Marcus Flynn has been sentenced to 11-H37 alongside the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals. A hard labor prison planet better known as the Razor, where life expectancy is short and all roads are dead ends. At least until the Lost Prophet goes active… In a few hours, prison guards and staff are evacuated, the prisoners are left to die, and dark mysteries begin to surface. Only Flynn has the skills and knowledge to unravel them, but he will have to rely on the most unlikely of allies – killers, assassins, pirates and smugglers. If they can survive each other they just might survive the Razor…and claim it for their own.