By Vaarunika Dharmapala
When I think about editing a new manuscript, I picture a very tiny me getting tangled up in super-sized black type. Hanging off the tail of a “g” perhaps, peering about, trying to see between the looming words into the mind of a virtual stranger, the author.
Stewart Ross is no longer a stranger to me. We’ve had many conversations, as many laughs and have become just a little more familiar with each other’s thoughts. I’ve spent hours rambling amongst his words, and have emerged from the process with a head full of new ideas, places and people. I’ve become his biggest fan and most eager advocate.
The Soterion Mission is set in a harsh future world, where the inhabitants must cram all of life’s experiences into less than nineteen years. After their eighteenth ‘winter’ they age rapidly, then die. But it is not a wholly bleak world. There is hope – in the form of the mysterious Soterion that holds the key to life, learning and death.
One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is the way in which Stewart has chosen to give the experience of young people all the validity of adulthood. In this view, adolescence is not a waiting room in which we bide our time until real life begins. Within those short years, we already encounter the best and worst in human nature. We have our hearts broken and mended, we are betrayed and rescued, we are fearful and brave. Many of us are lucky enough to experience these extremes in the relative safety of home and school. The characters in this novel, however, are fighting for their lives.
From kind and clever Roxanne to fiendish Timur to anarchic young Sammy – Stewart’s characters leapt into life as I read and re-read. They forced their way out from between the big black type and straight into my head. In fact, they refuse to leave! I know that any reader who picks up this book will feel the same way. That is why I am pleased and proud, as is Curious Fox, to publish this outstanding new novel.