It’s publication day! But rather than writing something about the book, I’ll just copy author Allen Steele’s own commentary on his newest novel, Sanctuary:
At long last, my new novel is being published today. Sanctuary is a full-length expansion of a series of stories that appeared on Tor.com and in Asimovs Science Fiction from 2017 through 2020, revised and made longer by new material; even if you read all the stories in their original form, you haven’t received the whole story until now.
Paperback, hardcover, and ebook are now available, and I hope it will soon have an audio edition as well. This is the first time I’ve had a new novel come out from a small-press publisher, so things are a bit different this time out; the paperback and hardcover editions won’t be in any chain bookstores and probably only a few independent book shops, so your best bet is going to be ordering it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or direct from the publisher. It’s a new world, folks.
Sanctuary is about a new world, too: a small human colony on a planet orbiting Tau Ceti, established by the survivors of the disaster that destroyed the two ships that arrived there several centuries earlier. Time has passed, but memory has faded; the inhabitants have lost the historical records of the past, and therefore their memory of their origins has become clouded by myth. The island they live on, Sanctuary, is kept isolated from the rest of the world by the native Cetans, a dog-like canine race who aren’t hostile but not particularly friendly either. So the descendants of the original colonists live in a stratified society stuck in a pre-industrial way of life where science and technology has been replaced by a strong belief in magic and superstition; they’re surviving, but they’re not prospering.
The story itself is told by its central character, Jeremy Crowe, a private investigator in the sprawling urban ghetto of Landencyte, Sanctuary’s largest settlement. A member of the city’s ruling class, a Steward, hires Crowe to locate his daughter, a young woman who has disappeared just before she’s to be married to another young nobleman from another house. But what seems to be a simple missing-persons case becomes far more intriguing, with the trail leading Crowe on a mission to discover Sanctuary’s forgotten history and the reasons why his kind has fallen so far during the time they’ve lived on Tawcety.
I describe Sanctuary as a cross between hard-SF and hard boiled detective fiction. If Poul Anderson or Jack Vance had collaborated with John D. MacDonald or Mickey Spillane, this is what the result might have been. Publisher’s Weekly has favored it with a nice, respectful review: “Three-time Hugo Award winner Steele pulls off an unusual genre-bending adventure in this melange of far-future alien-human interaction and classic gumshoe investigation … Steele’s engaging tough-guy narrator and well-wrought alien culture make this an enjoyable romp for both science fiction and detective story fans.”
As always, I hope you enjoy it.