Overpopulation, disease, and ecological disaster were edging humanity toward extinction. Hope arrived in the haan, an alien race that promised us a future.
And what they wanted in exchange seemed so harmless... Sam Shao has found out too much about the haan, by accident. All humans have to get along with them—we owe them our lives—and Sam even counts a haan among her best friends. But the more she learns, the less she trusts them It doesn’t help that the building of new haan colonies seems to be coinciding with a rash of missing persons cases. Sam and her hacker friends are determined to reveal the truth about the haan, before it’s too late. The aliens are still promising salvation, and they seem set to deliver, but with things already spinning out of control Sam is confronted with a possibility no one wants to admit—that what salvation means to humankind and what it means to the haan may be two horribly different things.
Fallout by James K. Decker is the second book in the Haan series and it both expands the world introduced in The Burn Zone and gives its protagonist obstacles and stakes on a greater scale than in the first installment. Haan refers to the alien race that arrived on Earth and promised an end to overpopulation, disease and a failing ecosystem. They only wanted one thing or two things in return, as they offer vast amounts of technology in exchange. As is typical, most people don’t stop and think about whether or not the easy answer might be too good to be true.
Following the events of The Burn Zone, some of the shine has worn off these alien saviors. Sam Shao has had a closer brush with the haan than most, and she knows that the alien vessel that has attracted so much attention and acts as a hub of their activity in Hangfei did not crash as many believe. In fact, it never moved, and the truth is that the haan’s universe is gone, overwritten, and everyone now lives in the universe that the haan used to inhabit. Of course, the haan and the government have done their best to cover up this fact.
Now there’s a new rumor, that of haan colonies being connected to people going missing. Sam and her friends aren’t so willing to accept the standard government soundbyte. In the course of the story, readers are reaquainted with Dragan, Sam’s adoptive father, as well as the other secondary characters, Nix, an outcast haan, Vamp, a hacker, as well as Shao-Ming and Dao-Ming all have their own motivations and secrets, some of which are revealed, and others that are hinted at and may be illuminated in further books. All of them are invested in what’s actually happening, and some help Sam, while others hinder, or actively betray her, and Sam has some difficult lessons to learn, but she’s a capable and interesting character who rises to the challenge.
Unlike many other fantasy novels, Sam is an Asian female protagonist, both of which make her stand out in the genre. Not only that, but she’s not easily pigeonholed as being ‘tough’ or ‘very smart,’ both of which make her all the more interesting. She is human, in the face of a story that delves into what lengths people go to in order to survive and what they will let others ‘get away with’ in the name of maintaining a pleasant status quo.
If readers are looking for science fiction that asks complex questions and isn’t afraid to contemplate what humanity is worth, and how that should be measured against other species, Fallout will be right up their alley.