Powell covers ground in this short story that Alastair Reynolds would have covered in a fat novel (in fact, the story had strong echoes of Reynolds’ ‘Chasm City’). The planet Neuvo Cordoba has a single continent, arid and desolate, save for a series of might canyons, down the sides of which, and across which humanity has settled.
The story starts off with one Napoleon Jones, stetson-hatted and lizard-skin jacketed, escaping his pursuers by jumping off a rope bridge onto the top of zeppelin passing below. All very Indiana Jones! We then meet Katherine Abdulov on the spaceship Ameline and as we find out about her backstory it becomes clear that this story is part of a bigger milieu, and a post-reading google identifies it as being tied in closely to Powell’s novel ‘The Recollection’, published by Solaris.
Abdulov duly rescues her ex-lover Napoleon Jones, but it all feels a little bit like it’s on rails, action strung quickly together, explanation and backstory provided when needed, giving the reader a good taster for what the novel ‘The Recollection’ offers, with a suspicion that the story was primarily created for just that purpose.