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Audiobook Review – Galaxy’s Edge: The Best of Us

Karen Traviss enters Galaxy’s Edge by taking us back to Earth and the beginning of the series’ future history in The Best of Us:

Half the world is a wasteland; the other half is on borrowed time.

The West has been devastated by epidemics, bio-terrorism, war, and famine. Asia has shut its borders to keep the threats at bay, and some with power and influence have already abandoned Earth. Now an escape route a century in the making – the Nomad mission – finally offers hope to a small town and a secret research centre hidden in a rural American backwater.

Shrouded in lies and concealed even from the research centre’s staff, Nomad is about to fulfil its long-dead founder’s vision of preserving the best of humanity to forge a new future. But who decides who’s worthy? The mission is now in the hands of a unique AI called Solomon, and an encounter with a band of military veterans reshapes his plans for mankind’s future after the arrival of a scientist with a grudge threatens the whole mission.

Don’t miss this breathtaking new series from New York Times best-selling author Karen Traviss as she explores the dramatic origins of Jason Anspach & Nick Cole’s Galaxy’s Edge universe.

It’s not often that the umpteenth book in a series can be read without having to go back and read the rest of the series, but The Best of Us is that rare gem.  It’s set in the Galaxy’s Edge universe, exploring events hinted at by Tyrus Rex and Goth Sullus, but it doesn’t depend on the other Galaxy’s Edge books to stand on its own and shine.

Traviss takes us back to the collapse of the United States and introduces us to what could be the founders of the world Jason Anspach and Nick Cole created for us in Legionnaire and it sequels.  She paints a bleak picture of a future in which our world is on the brink of starvation and dissolution, but also has sparks of hope.

This tense, tightly woven tapestry is set in rural America a decade or so after bio-terrorism and nuclear holocaust brought civilization to its knees.  Her characters strive toward the same goal, but the story’s conflict arises when they try to get to it using vastly different means.

Where Galaxy’s Edge is wonderful military science fiction highlighted with political and heist subplots, The Best of Us is entirely driven by Traviss’ characters and how they deal with life, the past, and their own futures.  There is the old soldier and the farmer, trying to keep their folks safe and together.  The author also introduces us to managers and scientists who have been shielded by the increasingly harsh conditions outside their bubble.  Intermixed with all of this is Solomon, an artificial intelligence that tries to guide all of them toward a better tomorrow.

The plot does not race toward its conclusion. This is a book that takes its time, letting us get to know the characters.  Fred Tatascoire did a good job giving all of them voices and painting their pictures through words, tone, and pacing.

Whether or not you’ve enjoyed the other Galaxy’s Edge books, The Best of Us will make for great reading or listening.

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