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Hella

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A master of science fiction introduces a world where everything is large and the problems of survival even larger in this exciting new novel. Hella is a planet where everything is oversized—especially the ambitions of the colonists. The trees are mile-high, the dinosaur herds are huge, and the weather is extreme—so extreme, the colonists have to migrate twice a year to escap A master of science fiction introduces a world where everything is large and the problems of survival even larger in this exciting new novel. Hella is a planet where everything is oversized—especially the ambitions of the colonists. The trees are mile-high, the dinosaur herds are huge, and the weather is extreme—so extreme, the colonists have to migrate twice a year to escape the blistering heat of summer and the atmosphere-freezing cold of winter. Kyle is a neuro-atypical young man, emotionally challenged, but with an implant that gives him real-time access to the colony’s computer network, making him a very misunderstood savant. When an overburdened starship arrives, he becomes the link between the established colonists and the refugees from a ravaged Earth. The Hella colony is barely self-sufficient. Can it stand the strain of a thousand new arrivals, bringing with them the same kinds of problems they thought they were fleeing? Despite the dangers to himself and his family, Kyle is in the middle of everything—in possession of the most dangerous secret of all. Will he be caught in a growing political conspiracy? Will his reawakened emotions overwhelm his rationality? Or will he be able to use his unique ability to prevent disaster?


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A master of science fiction introduces a world where everything is large and the problems of survival even larger in this exciting new novel. Hella is a planet where everything is oversized—especially the ambitions of the colonists. The trees are mile-high, the dinosaur herds are huge, and the weather is extreme—so extreme, the colonists have to migrate twice a year to escap A master of science fiction introduces a world where everything is large and the problems of survival even larger in this exciting new novel. Hella is a planet where everything is oversized—especially the ambitions of the colonists. The trees are mile-high, the dinosaur herds are huge, and the weather is extreme—so extreme, the colonists have to migrate twice a year to escape the blistering heat of summer and the atmosphere-freezing cold of winter. Kyle is a neuro-atypical young man, emotionally challenged, but with an implant that gives him real-time access to the colony’s computer network, making him a very misunderstood savant. When an overburdened starship arrives, he becomes the link between the established colonists and the refugees from a ravaged Earth. The Hella colony is barely self-sufficient. Can it stand the strain of a thousand new arrivals, bringing with them the same kinds of problems they thought they were fleeing? Despite the dangers to himself and his family, Kyle is in the middle of everything—in possession of the most dangerous secret of all. Will he be caught in a growing political conspiracy? Will his reawakened emotions overwhelm his rationality? Or will he be able to use his unique ability to prevent disaster?

30 review for Hella

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell

    There's a Hella Planet? That's hella... dope.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    3.5 stars. Hella is a hella big place. It’s a large planet where, due to lower gravity as compared to Earth, living things grow to crazy huge size. And there are dinosaurs. And they’re HELLA gigantic. Herbivorous leviathans migrate across the plains, slowly stomping over everything in their path, and hungry carnosaurs attack them in groups, feasting for days on the huge carcasses that they manage to bring down. Hella is not the most hospitable environment for humans, but these few thousand colonis 3.5 stars. Hella is a hella big place. It’s a large planet where, due to lower gravity as compared to Earth, living things grow to crazy huge size. And there are dinosaurs. And they’re HELLA gigantic. Herbivorous leviathans migrate across the plains, slowly stomping over everything in their path, and hungry carnosaurs attack them in groups, feasting for days on the huge carcasses that they manage to bring down. Hella is not the most hospitable environment for humans, but these few thousand colonists are there to make it home. It’s already been a hundred years since the First Hundred made landfall, and since then, additional migrations of humans have helped the colony to grow and expand. Caution is the highest priority. Everything is studied and planned for, because it’s crucial that the human population avoid cross-contamination with the Hella natural world. All food is grown within the enclosed colonies, and care is taken never to allow human-produced microbes or plants out into the planet’s own natural environment. We get to know the world of Hella through main character Kyle, a neuro-atypical teen (roughly 13 years old in Earth years, or 5 years old in Hella years). Kyle is smart and detail-oriented, devoted to his family, but has challenges understanding nuance and reading other people’s emotions, doesn’t like to be touched, and is unable to leave a topic until he’s shared everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) he knows about it. He’s gifted and his talents can benefit the colony, but there are some who view Kyle as a freak and treat him that way. While the colony seems to function on the principle of communal service toward the greater good, there are those who thirst for power, just like in any human society. When the chief power-hungry representative gets an opportunity to seize control, he takes it. Hella is an interesting book, although I have some issues with it. At the beginning, the focus is on getting to know the planet and the colony. Kyle goes out on an expedition for the first time, and through his experiences, we get to see the plants, trees, strange creatures, and huge dinosaurs that roam the land. We’re also introduced to the daily routines, the concept of work that’s at the foundation of this human society, and the myriad factors that go into maintaining safety and self-sufficiency. We learn more about how human society has changed and evolved over the years since our own time as well. For example, gender is fluid and easily changeable. Kyle’s mother was born biologically male, but changed to female so she could experience pregnancy (which is in itself a fairly unusually choice, as many people prefer to have their babies bottle-grown rather than womb-grown). Kyle himself was born biologically female, but decided to change when his older brother did, largely because he too wanted to be able to pee standing up. Changing doesn’t have to be permanent; later in the book, Kyle has cause to rethink his decision and considers changing again in order to please his boyfriend (which is a frustrating reason to change, but fortunately, his boyfriend sees it that way too.) By the second half of the book, the emphasis is less on the natural world outside the human habitats and much more on the political maneuvering within the human colony. There’s a conspiracy afoot, and Kyle and his friends may be in the best position to try to stop it. There’s plenty of danger and excitement as they chase through tunnels, hack networks, and try to avoid or defeat the bad guys. My feelings about Hella are mixed. First off — cool planet! I really liked learning about this world, its dangers and its beauty, and what it takes for humans to adapt and survive there. But, there’s just so much time spent with Kyle on the details! Granted, this is a piece of who Kyle is, but his need to go down the rabbit hole chasing every detail doesn’t always make for great reading, and I felt that the plot tended to bog down in detours. At almost 450 pages, this book is longer than it needs to be. I think if 50-75 pages had been trimmed, the pacing might have improved, keeping the plot more on track and letting momentum build. As is, I didn’t truly feel caught up or swept along by the story until the 2nd half, and that’s too bad, as there are elements of a great story here. As I said, I did really enjoy the (literal) world-building the author accomplishes in introducing us to the human society in this large and frightening world, and explaining how they find ways to improve their resources bit by bit, even while always protecting themselves from the dangers just outside their fences. I was a bit startled looking at the author’s Goodreads profile when I realized that some of the characters in Hella appear in his earlier works. This made me wonder how much I was missing and whether a familiarity with other books would enhance the reading experience. Hella has a conclusion that ties up the major action of the story, but there’s certainly room for more storytelling about the colony, its people, and its politics — plus, it would be fun to get to see what happens next for Kyle, his family, and his friends. I do recommend Hella, but wished that it was just a little tighter and faster overall. Still, it’s a fun and engaging story set in a really fascinating world, and I’m glad I read it. Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Starshadow

    Got this as advance copy. I plunged into the story headlong, barely coming up for air. Written from first-person narrative (hard to maintain for most authors) , the protagonist is a teenager with unique problems- and skills. He was born on Hella, yet Earth is in his very genes. Hella has its own ecology, not just hostile to human life, but also different to human life and to Earth evolved organisms. If the colonists want to avoid the problems that made Earth untenable, they need to respect Hella Got this as advance copy. I plunged into the story headlong, barely coming up for air. Written from first-person narrative (hard to maintain for most authors) , the protagonist is a teenager with unique problems- and skills. He was born on Hella, yet Earth is in his very genes. Hella has its own ecology, not just hostile to human life, but also different to human life and to Earth evolved organisms. If the colonists want to avoid the problems that made Earth untenable, they need to respect Hella and its lifeforms. They had come to Hella prepared for the work that none of them would see finished. But there were factions which wanted to take an easy path, to gain riches and power, without regard for the future. And they were prepared to destroy anything-or anyone-who would stand in their way. Would they suceed in making Hella their own private kingdom, or would they avoid the mistakes which evidently destroyed Earth? And how would the arrival of the last colonists from Earth disrupt their plans? And how would Kyle keep them from destroying all he held dear? It's a gripping tale, which manages to ask hard questions about what it means to build an ethical human society when so many of us lack ethics, without being preachy or lectures. The best stories tell the adventure while leaving things to chew on. This is one of those.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/06/18/... It’s no secret that I love colonization sci-fi. There’s just something about the thrill and adventure of settling on an uncharted world that appeals to me, including the challenges of setting up a new governing system, learning about the planet’s environment, and discovering its native (and often dangerous) fauna and flora. I also adore survival stories in general, so naturally I find myself drawn to a book like Hella by D 3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/06/18/... It’s no secret that I love colonization sci-fi. There’s just something about the thrill and adventure of settling on an uncharted world that appeals to me, including the challenges of setting up a new governing system, learning about the planet’s environment, and discovering its native (and often dangerous) fauna and flora. I also adore survival stories in general, so naturally I find myself drawn to a book like Hella by David Gerrold which focuses on a group of colonists trying to carve a life for themselves on an unfamiliar world fraught perils and unknowns. This story, which takes place in the far future on the newly established human colony of Hella, is told through the eyes of Kyle, a very unique protagonist as he was born with a syndrome whose effects are very similar to that of autism. To help him manage his emotions, Kyle was implanted with a chip at a young age connecting him to the colony’s computer network, in theory allowing him to regulate the information load to his brain as well as to improve his communication with his family. But this real-time connection to the system also gave Kyle access to all the data at his fingertips, making him one extremely smart boy. Obsessed with details and facts, he is also something of a walking encyclopedia, becoming a highly sought out person for his knowledge and logical thinking skills, though socially he remains a misunderstood outsider. As the book opens, Hella is preparing for its next scheduled arrival of colonists. Even though the planet has been settled for more than a hundred years and thousands now call it home, the colony is still woefully unprepared for the influx of newcomers—especially when none of them will be prepared for the hardships that await them. To help the new colonists understand what they’re up against, Kyle has been tasked to make a series of informational videos to send up to the incoming ship, a job he is determined to take deadly seriously. Leaving out none of the dangers or challenges, he proceeds to paint the most realistic picture of life on Hella as he can, but is flummoxed when he discovers that not all of his audience is happy with his portrayal. Some of the colonists, both on Hella and on the ship, are upset that Kyle is making it all look too harsh, while others are glad he’s making it clear that life on Hella is no free lunch. Whatever the case, it’s causing dissent within the colony, and there are certain factions on the planet who will take advantage of this unrest to further their own agenda. In the end, I finished this novel with mixed feelings. I was reminded of two sci-fi novels that I read in recent years, Outpost by W. Michael Gear and Semiosis by Sue Burke, both of which feature strong themes of colonization and survival, though the former contained more action and space operatic elements while the latter emphasized the science. Hella, bless its heart, tried to do both. As such, I found its lack of a focal point to be one of its main weaknesses, followed by a difficulty to connect with the characters. Regarding the first point, I felt the plot was all over the place. The opening chapters were intriguing enough, as the story begins with Kyle and his mom and brother preparing for their annual migration to Winterland Outpost to escape the cold weather. But once Kyle receives his task of video documenting Hellan life, that interest went downhill fast as readers are inundated with description, both important and trivial. Sparing no detail, Kyle describes everything the incoming colonists need to know, everything from what they will eat to where they will sleep. To be fair, not all of it was the dry, technical stuff. In fact, I loved the level of world-building Kyle’s perspective provided, especially the descriptions of the planet’s wildlife. Hella’s gravity is much lower that Earth’s, allowing its creatures to grow to gargantuan proportions. Huge dinosaur-like animals roam the its surface, while its trees can reach over a mile high. These were the details that fascinated me in Kyle’s archives, as well as facts about the world’s harsh weather patterns, like the extreme seasonal changes which force the colonists to move back and forth between winter and summer outposts. Of course, I would have preferred all this to be presented in a more engaging manner, but since we were seeing through Kyle’s eyes, I understood why the delivery had to be more clear-cut, pragmatic, and to the point. While it was good to have a perspective from a “neuro-atypical” and “emotionally challenged” character, and Gerrold certainly went all in with the characterization, having Kyle as our protagonist actually ended up being a double-edged sword because it made the narrative feel a little stiff and bland. Still, I did mention earlier that there was an action-thriller side to Hella, which came through near the end when the focus of the story shifts towards its political conspiracy plotline. Kyle’s character arc also became more personal. I’ll be honest, this felt like a breath of fresh air and a nice change of pace after all the info dumping and reams of pedantic societal commentary that we had to slog through to reach this point. It’s just a shame that the excitement came a little too late. All in all, I guess you could say Hella was a somewhat frustrating read. There were probably as many ups as there were downs, but it did end on a high note, which was a plus. I’m also happy that I got to listen to this book in audio, because I have a feeling the print experience would have been a struggle. As the audiobook’s narrator, Travis Baldree’s voicework gave Kyle’s matter-of-fact words some life and personality, at least. Overall, he did a great job and delivered a strong performance.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sydney Smith

    “These are the people who screwed up Earth and then ran away. They’ll do the same here.” 4.5 stars. A lot of interesting ideas and a very unique narrative perspective. It’s pretty hard sci-fi, which is usually hit or miss for holding my attention. Fortunately, I really connected with the characters and the story, and especially the world, which was so bizarre that it kept me enthralled throughout, even during the super detailed world building parts that probably could be viewed by some as info “These are the people who screwed up Earth and then ran away. They’ll do the same here.” 4.5 stars. A lot of interesting ideas and a very unique narrative perspective. It’s pretty hard sci-fi, which is usually hit or miss for holding my attention. Fortunately, I really connected with the characters and the story, and especially the world, which was so bizarre that it kept me enthralled throughout, even during the super detailed world building parts that probably could be viewed by some as info dumps. I think the success has a lot to do with our narrator, Kyle, a boy who is “emotionally challenged” in a way similar to autism. “That’s one of the things about my syndrome. I don’t think about other people enough.” Gerrold does such a good job with this narrator’s unique voice. I love Kyle! Really, I love most of the characters. Jamie and the Captain and Dora and Jubilee, they’re all great. This is a very smart, well thought out story, world, and character development. Gerrold thought of everything. Hella is a fully developed and wildly complex world and I was fascinated from the start (although it did take me about 30 pages to be at the “can’t put the book down” stage). There are some pretty controversial ideas that are dealt with very thoughtfully. For example, the politics can be intense. There’s a proposal for a Genetic Protection Resolution that would basically cull anyone without perfect genes (which means anyone born like our narrator would be aborted, although it probably would never get to that point because DNA would be very carefully selected to weed out certain undesirable traits). Welfare type issues, capitalism, environmental conservation, and classism are also brought up. It was all so well done and handled in a way that parallels our modern struggles and failures in a very accurate and ugly reflection. “The most important question to ask before you introduce any new law is this: What problem will this law solve? Who does it make life better for? If it doesn’t help everyone, it’s a bad law.” Hella has a very strong LGBT presence. Switching genders is normal for people and you can go back and forth presumably as many times as you want. Our main character was born female and switched when he was about 7 Earth years old (almost 3 Hella years old, and don’t worry, there’s a time conversion chart in the back of the book). His mom was born male and switched to female so she could have children (although most babies aren’t born naturally anymore, she just wanted to experience it). There are poly couples too. It was all so organically written and Gerrold did a great job with this. The representation is awesome, especially how well he did writing from the perspective of an emotionally challenged boy. “Normal is a delusion. There’s no such thing as normal, there’s only ordinary. And I’m not ordinary either. I am what I am and it’s fine with me, so why can’t it be fine with everyone else?” I read an uncorrected version, so I’m not sure if this is something that might change, but in my copy, there aren’t any chapter breaks. The entire book is like one very long chapter. I thought I would hate it but it didn’t end up bothering me because I got sucked into the story so thoroughly, and it all just flowed together so smoothly. The narrative voice worked well with this kind of format and writing style. The dialogue was one of my favorite things about this book because Kyle is such a unique character. He’s funny without trying to be, serious 100% of the time, and has a very special understanding (or lack of understanding) of humans. Well, of everything, really. Kyle is fascinating, and the way David Gerrold plugged into his characters’ mindsets is even more fascinating. About halfway into Hella, everything changes. Like the whole tone changes, but also the pace, which speeds up big time. There’s a lot less of the super-detail-info type paragraphs and a lot more action and dialogue. After an AI character is introduced, the plot kind of changes too (or maybe it just becomes fully fleshed out). So yeah, once you get to the point I’m talking about, you’ll know. This story will take you for a ride. Prepare your emotions. My only complaints are kind of snobby ridiculous ones, so they won’t affect my rating. Firstly, I really don’t like the cover of this book. There are so many cool creatures on Hella and yet the one on the cover is just a giant version of a crocodile. I wish they’d put a leviathan (similar to a brachiosaurus) or carnosaur on the cover. Or a humungosaur! I really want to see what an artist rendering of these creatures would look like. Secondly, it would’ve been nice to have some sort of map for Hella, but I always say that about any book that doesn’t have a map, and maybe there will be one in the finished book. And lastly, there’s a slightly frustrating name similarity of two characters (Jamie and J’mee) and I basically had to change J’mee in my head to A’mee whenever I read it just to differentiate the two. Maybe it’s pronounced some crazy way that doesn’t sound like Jamie, but I don’t see how else it could sound and why the author would make two main characters have such similar sounding names. So, in conclusion, I loved this book. So much more than I thought I was going to. I really took my time with it, savoring the character development, the world, the plot, everything. I filled up so many notecards with things I wanted to remember and make note of. One whole notecard is just page numbers for quotes I wanted to keep and look back on. Very thankful I won this book. I read an uncorrected manuscript. All quotes are subject to change with the final published book. Thank you to DAW Books for this ARC! TW: Bullying. Also… there’s a semi confusing relationship that appears to be with a 14ish year old and a 25ish year old. I feel like I must be misunderstanding the age difference though, because it really doesn’t make sense. I know that the way people look and mature is definitely different in this distant future though. Still, the time difference of Earth and Hella is clearly explained. And the relationship itself didn’t make me uncomfortable unless I let myself consider the ages in present day. I wanted to mention it in case anyone is upset by the thought of that even in a different evolutionary spectrum. The relationship doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the story, the parent or friends or anyone. The age thing isn’t even mentioned. Again, I could be completely misunderstanding it anyway.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    There are lots of interesting elements here, like the exciting colony world of Hella, and the social structure that has evolved past where we are now in terms of gender and sexuality, but still feels a pull toward old ways of thinking about hierarchy and individualism. The main conflict in the story arises essentially because of tension between those who want to maintain a system of collectivism within the still growing colony, and those who want to move towards an individualised market economy. There are lots of interesting elements here, like the exciting colony world of Hella, and the social structure that has evolved past where we are now in terms of gender and sexuality, but still feels a pull toward old ways of thinking about hierarchy and individualism. The main conflict in the story arises essentially because of tension between those who want to maintain a system of collectivism within the still growing colony, and those who want to move towards an individualised market economy. Although I enjoyed the book as a whole, it was a little slow to get to the actual storyline. That said, I would love to read another book in this same world as it definitely seems there is more to explore.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Big ideas, big dinos and lots of thoughtful commentary, Hella was an odd combination of quick thrills, fascinating facts and very uneven pacing. I had high hopes for Hella, and although it started off with lots of promise, halfway through the book I realized that there were several problematic elements that would ultimately ad I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Big ideas, big dinos and lots of thoughtful commentary, Hella was an odd combination of quick thrills, fascinating facts and very uneven pacing. I had high hopes for Hella, and although it started off with lots of promise, halfway through the book I realized that there were several problematic elements that would ultimately add up to a middle-of-the-road book. Which is a shame, because just look at that cover! I loved the idea of a group of colonists living on a planet where everything is huge , and at first, Gerrold does a great job of setting the stage and presenting a cool idea with plenty of opportunities to evolve into a fantastic plot. And he succeeded at times, but sadly this book ended up being a mixed bag for me. First let me set the stage. The planet of Hella was colonized 106 years ago and over 7000 colonists now call the planet home. Hella is home to gigantic dinosaur-like creatures and humongous trees, extreme weather conditions and desolate landscapes, but the colonists have developed ways to stay safe in this harsh environment over the years. One of their strategies is to relocate to a different outpost during the summer and winter seasons to avoid the worst of the bad weather. When the story begins, the colony is packing up for the trek to Winterland Outpost, where they go every year to escape the freezing winters. At the same time, a pilgrimage ship called the Cascade is nearing Hellan orbit and will land in a matter of months with a new crop of refugees. Kyle is a young autistic teen who was born on Hella and lives with his beloved older brother Jamie and their mother.  Kyle has an implant he calls “the noise,” a chip that gives him access to an internet-like pool of knowledge and that also allows him to better communicate with his friends and family. Kyle is tasked with creating informational videos to beam up to the refugees on the Cascade while they are waiting to land, videos that show not only the beauty of Hella, but warn of the extreme dangers as well. While Kyle’s intentions are good—giving the new colonists a true picture of what life on Hella is like—not everyone on board is happy to learn about the hard work that will be expected of them once they land. Life on Hella isn't easy, you see. Everyone does their part to make the colony run smoothly, from working on the farms and helping with food production, to clearing out tunnels to build underground housing and much more. For some colonists, the lure of relocating to a new planet was supposed to mean freedom: freedom to stake out their own territory and make their own rules. When a political clash between the leader of the Cascade and the governing body of Hella seems imminent, Kyle and his friends must try to protect their peaceful way of life at all costs. By far my favorite thing about Hella was the planet itself and the unique animal life that lives there. And by “animal life” I mean HUGE dinosaurs! The colony has been living and thriving on Hella for over a hundred years, so by now they have figured out the best survival tactics and how to deal with the herds of beasts that migrate each year. My favorite dino was the leviathan, which I’m picturing in my head as a brontosaurus. Leviathans are described as being 500 times as big as a Rollagon, the all terrain vehicle used to get around, which is five or six stories tall, so you can imagine a whole herd of them making their way across the plains of Hella and how the colonists strategically placed their outposts according to these migration paths. We do get a couple of exciting Jurassic Park -like scenes involving leviathans and bigmouths (tyrannosaurus rex), as they hunt and kill each other for food, and there are some delightfully gory parts that gave me hope for the rest of the story. But once we hit the midpoint, the dinos mysteriously vanish from the picture. This lack of dino action was perhaps my biggest disappointment. I love that Gerrold included an autistic main character, and although the word “autistic” is never mentioned, it wasn’t hard to guess based on Kyle’s characteristics. The entire story is told from Kyle’s point of view, and his dry, concise manner of speaking does get a bit old after a while, I’m not going to lie. Kyle is extremely smart and obsessed with details and facts, and much of his narrative in the first half consists of page after page of detailed information about the wildlife on Hella, the social organization of the colony, and the logistics of getting from place to place. Luckily, I found all of this information fascinating, from the eating and migration patterns of the leviathans and bigmouths to the descriptions of the gigantic trucks called Rollagons that enable the colony to safely traverse the planet. But I quickly grew tired of his textbook-like voice and simply wanted the plot to take over. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen until the very end of the story. As for the characters, I found it difficult to connect with any of them, although I did have a soft spot for Kyle and his social challenges, and I did like the close relationship between Kyle and his brother Jamie. One of the strangest things for me was that the kids and adults all felt exactly the same. Kyle and Jamie, as well as two kids from the Cascade, J’Mee and Charles, all spoke like adults, and their dialog at times actually made me cringe. Kyle befriends an outcast on Hella named Jeremy, and they quickly decide to become boyfriends, despite the fact that Kyle doesn’t like to be touched. The dialog swings wildly from Kyle and Jeremy calling each other “sweetheart” (which just didn't fit with their age—they are supposed to be around fifteen years old) to making a “stinky promise” to each other by linking fingers. (Seriously, if I ever have to read the words “stinky promise” again…) It was such an odd mix of adult language and baby talk, which made it hard to relate to them. I also want to mention the role of sex and gender in Hella , as I found it interesting and a little disturbing at the same time. In this future, people are able to change their physical sex at will. For example, Kyle was born female, but when she was about three, she was jealous of Jamie’s ability to pee standing up, so she decided to become male. Likewise, Kyle’s mother was born male and changed so that she could experience childbirth. And once you change, you can change back if you want to. Oddly, there is never any discussion about how the physical transformations take place. I was also surprised to find that it’s common for the colonists to take showers together. Gerrold had his characters randomly jumping into the shower in groups of two or three, I suppose to show how open everyone is about sex and seeing each other naked, but I have to admit it was a bit shocking and weird for me, especially when those showers involve young adults who don't even know each other that well. The plot abruptly switches from a potentially exciting survival story to a confusing political plot, complete with lots of social commentary about genetics and whether or not all members of society are important, even if they’re “different.” And I haven’t even mentioned HARLIE, the AI from the Cascade who adds a philosophical layer to the story—as if this story needs anything else added! The big twist near the end wasn’t surprising in the least—I had it figured out early on—and it felt like Gerrold was trying to shoehorn in a bunch of action in those final scenes in order to make up for the slower parts of his story. Hella had a lot of potential, and I applaud Gerrold for including a marginalized main character and using Kyle's condition to shine a light on autism, but with so much going on, it was hard to love all its parts. Lots of readers have rated this five stars on Goodreads, which puzzles me a bit, but hey, you never know! If this sounds like your kind of story, then definitely give it a try. Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.  This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy

  8. 4 out of 5

    Octavia

    Great subject but hard to get into. I Love Sci-fi, so reading this book was a no brainer. As a member of Goodreads I was gifted the book and really wanted to like it. However, it was extremely hard for me to get into. Kyle narrates the story for us and at times it was painful. I felt like I was listening to a monotone lecturer trying my best to stay awake. Once I got into the story about a hundred pages I realized that Kyle was Autistic. So, the story was written from his perspective and in his v Great subject but hard to get into. I Love Sci-fi, so reading this book was a no brainer. As a member of Goodreads I was gifted the book and really wanted to like it. However, it was extremely hard for me to get into. Kyle narrates the story for us and at times it was painful. I felt like I was listening to a monotone lecturer trying my best to stay awake. Once I got into the story about a hundred pages I realized that Kyle was Autistic. So, the story was written from his perspective and in his voice. I figured out the plot twist early on but I wanted to see how the writer would use it. I enjoyed the characters in the story and loved the world that is Hella. This is a good book, but it isn't a great book. I'm torn because it was the narration that killed the read for me. This may not bother you. I understand why it was done, but it just didn't work for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Tom Shippey at the WSJ liked this, calling it a "Robert Heinlein-esque Bildungsroman set on a dinosaur-dominated planet.": https://www.wsj.com/articles/science-... "Sci-fi has a strong tradition of “deathworld” planets. David Gerrold’s Hella is one of them, on steroids. Everything on it is “Hella-bigger and Hella-meaner and Hella-more ferocious.” The herbivorous dinosaurs weigh hundreds of tons and migrate in earth-flattening herds; the carnosaurs that prey on them are outsize to match. The human Tom Shippey at the WSJ liked this, calling it a "Robert Heinlein-esque Bildungsroman set on a dinosaur-dominated planet.": https://www.wsj.com/articles/science-... "Sci-fi has a strong tradition of “deathworld” planets. David Gerrold’s Hella is one of them, on steroids. Everything on it is “Hella-bigger and Hella-meaner and Hella-more ferocious.” The herbivorous dinosaurs weigh hundreds of tons and migrate in earth-flattening herds; the carnosaurs that prey on them are outsize to match. The humans have lost a lot of colonists: a few to the ’saurs, more to infection, but most to stupidity. In “Hella” (Daw, 441 pages, $26), Mr. Gerrold’s teenage hero, Kyle, has to learn deep lessons of survival. But as his forerunners, the heroes of Robert Heinlein’s “juveniles,” always found out, dealing with people and politics is a part of survival as well. Kyle needs to deal with dinosaurs but also navigate the power struggles of the colonists, who deviously pack committees and dominate meetings. This element of the story raises “Hella” above the level of a Young Adult adventure story. In everyday life we don’t cope with dinosaurs, but we do cope with bureaucrats and finaglers. Mr. Gerrold makes it plain that there’s as much drama and danger in office politics as there is in dealing with wild beasts. It’s just that in a survival scenario, the stakes are higher, and losers find they’re collected much more promptly." TBR. My kind of book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brandy {The Review Booth}

    The unique combination of a lighter gravity and increased oxygen density has allowed everything on Hella to grow into supersized proportions. The dinosaurs and their herds achieve monstrous sizes while the flora can reach over a mile high. The weather is even more harsh and unpredictable than Earth's which is why the colonists are forced to retreat twice a year. Once to Summerland to avoid the heat so intense it can cause raging wildfires, then to Winterland to avoid brutal winter storms with wi The unique combination of a lighter gravity and increased oxygen density has allowed everything on Hella to grow into supersized proportions. The dinosaurs and their herds achieve monstrous sizes while the flora can reach over a mile high. The weather is even more harsh and unpredictable than Earth's which is why the colonists are forced to retreat twice a year. Once to Summerland to avoid the heat so intense it can cause raging wildfires, then to Winterland to avoid brutal winter storms with winds that can be 300+ mph and snows that refuse to melt for months. Kyle Martin is a very unique young man who just happens to be neuro-atypical, struggles with emotion and has brain implant that allows him instant access to the network that runs the colonies. The star-ship Cascade arrives ahead of schedule and the occupants are forced to stay aboard the ship, Kyle is tasked with bridging the gap between the colonists and those seeking the refuge of Hella. The colony on Hella is still in its fledgling stages and barely able to perform at optimum. Will the addition of over a thousand new people break the tenuous balance the colony has been able to build? Kyle finds himself unwittingly in the center of the storm and in possession of a perilous secret. A political conspiracy threatens to entangle him and his once subdued emotions might win over his logical nature but he is hoping that he can utilize the uniqueness the colony tormented him over to prevent their own downfall. The author and family of Kyle do not actually specify Kyle's condition but from the descriptions it sounds very similar to at least some aspects of Autism. Some people may have a hard time with Kyle as the narrator of the story because he doesn't "get" people and therefore doesn't connect with them very well. What he does connect with is nearly everything else - and I found myself enjoying Kyle's narration even if he does get bogged down with over information. Like many kids who are different than "ordinary", Kyle suffers from the comments and behaviors of others. Below are three quotes that really hit me regarding Kyle, one from his mother and two from his own thoughts. Marley is one of the people in the colony that is constantly harassing Kyle and his brother. Kyle's character is very unique and interesting - the way he thinks and what he thinks about and the book's characters also see this (at least some of them). Hella is littered with puns, jokes and nuances that Kyle doesn't understand but the other characters and the reader most likely would. I feel a very close connection to the truth of Kyle's "conversation" - the truth in himself that HARLIE and his friends help him discover. I too wish that I could live in a world that doesn't pillage the planet for everything valuable and is at peace with becoming a part of the symphony of life that exists upon it's surface. Hella is haunting and sad in the sense that the issues the colonists face in the book are the beginnings of what destroyed the Earth. We are seeing portions of this now - and I can only imagine all of the things that we've missed out on because of human nature. What I wouldn't give to be able to see the Earth as it once was and wonder what it could've been had we not taken the courses of action that we did. It always seems that the people like Layton and those that agree with his ideology vastly outnumber those that think like Kyle, his family and friends. I've never had to resist the urge to not highlight and share swaths of text before and I have so, so many quotes that mean quite a lot to me that I would love to share with you. Hella covers a vast variety of societal, moral and political issues (and many more) that will be very similar to our own daily lives. Kyle really got me with the politics and people quote below, it's how I feel most of the time. Actually all three of the political quotes that I picked really highlight how I feel most of the time and my thoughts being so similar to Kyle's really helped cement how I felt about his character and this book. The world building is top notch - I can imagine what the environment and beasties could look like. The description of Hella's flora and fauna remind me of some of the card artwork that I've seen for Magic the Gathering. I highly suggest looking at these if you don't know what I'm referencing, quite a large portion of the artwork seen on the cards is nothing short of stunning and if I were to pick a group of artists to draw what was described in Hella, it would be them. The portion near the end of the book at the trial really really got me - that's all I can say without a spoiler but... damn. Going into this book I was not expecting to love it this much - even though it would be fraught with danger and exceedingly hard I kinda wish I could join Kyle and the others on Hella. Even just the trip through words is worth it - I am very glad that I requested this book to read through this quarantine. A Hella-sized thank you to David Gerrold for writing this book, DAW Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a digital ARC of Hella.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nooilforpacifists

    This is one Hella of a bad book. Avert your eyes. David Gerrold may be the victim of his stunningly early success, winning a Hugo nomination for his first ever work: the script for ST-TOS’s “The Trouble With Tribbles,”* then getting re-write credit on the ST-TOS episode about the cloud dwellers and the troglodytes, then publishing the best peak under the tent in his non-fiction “The Making of Star Trek.” I believe he did that all before he was 24 years old. ___________________ */ He lost the Hugo f This is one Hella of a bad book. Avert your eyes. David Gerrold may be the victim of his stunningly early success, winning a Hugo nomination for his first ever work: the script for ST-TOS’s “The Trouble With Tribbles,”* then getting re-write credit on the ST-TOS episode about the cloud dwellers and the troglodytes, then publishing the best peak under the tent in his non-fiction “The Making of Star Trek.” I believe he did that all before he was 24 years old. ___________________ */ He lost the Hugo for best SF TV script to ST-TOS’s “The City on the Edge of Forever,” inarguably the best episode of that series. No shame to Gerrold there. Anyway, Gerrold went on writing SF (rather than HAL, his computer brain was H.A.R.L.I.E., spelled with those ponderous periods). I’ve never much cared for his work—I should review some of what I’ve read. As near as I can tell, he’s gone downhill with every release. Yet he’s a nice MAN. We met at a Star Trek(!) convention (I was a teenager), and carried on some correspondence on some subject I’ve totally forgotten. That must have been years later (it wasn’t fan-boy communication; it was some scientific inquiry) after Al Gore invented the Internet. He seemed to think I’d raised a good point, because he sent me—unbidden—a signed copy of his book “The Man Who Folded Himself.” But to “Hella.” It’s being marketed as SF/YA. In fact it is a hella long, ponderous book, with cartoonish villains whose acts have little to do with Gerrold’s imagined worldscape. At times, it seemed more like a Jimmy Stewart movie. The title refers to an Earth colony planet where everything is huge: each day is 36 hours; each year 651 days. The planet has a 30° axial tilt, making the equatorial zone uninhabitable year round, forcing a yearly migration from Summerstation (in the North) to Winterstation (in the South). Hella’s flora are weird huge tree-like things producing brightly colored (pink, purple, orange) depending—because each clump is tied to a single root system 2 miles square (that’s 17.4 square decaliters for my metric friends ;)>). The fauna are, of course, dinosaurs. (This IS YA.). Well, a limited number of them. A T-Rex, a “catasaursus,” a Raptor, and several others—all dangerous to humans, if only because Hella’s lower gravity makes T-Rexs’ (and the rest) as large as if on steroids. And despite their small brains, these reptiles, too, must make the same biannual migration—the humans must avoid these reptiles at their peril. Hella’s first person narrator is a 13 1/2 year old boy named Kyle. But he is “on the spectrum.” He had some kind of chip installed in his head when he was two to “regularize” him. The chip gives him access to the local Internet, making closed book exams a snap. Most important, in “regularizing” Kyle, the chip drains his emotions—he can’t recognize jokes and doesn’t like to be touched. So Kyle is taunted (for being irregular and flat) and hated (for being smart). And, BTW, his father died saving the colony from a Dino attack, so all he has is a workaholic mom and one half-brother who understands and helps Kyle. That covers the first ten pages of the novel. The rest of the first half of “Hella” is seen though Kyle’s unique, but dimmed vision. And NOTHING OF CONSEQUENCE HAPPENS. Three days of reading to get anywhere. The second half is stuffed to the gills with plot. Cardboard plot—any John Ford western had more “nuance” than this. Indeed, Gerrold uses that word more then John Kerry did in his failed 2004 campaign for the Presidency. Speaking of John (“Holidays in Cambodia”) Kerry, Gerrold tosses in a few liberal tropes so unnecessary to the plot that they should have been blue-penciled long before publication. Such as avoiding use of fossil fuel, because it invariably runs out. Is Gerrold the last believer in “Peak Oil?” I’m 60+ years old, and we’ve always had a 20-year reserve. Some of the quotes are in my (few) highlights. Harking back to “The Making of Star Trek,” Gerrold tells the story of his own “Tribbles” script, first written on his personal IBM Selectric (those born after 1975: look it up). But his Selectric used a 10 pitch font, so Gerrold turned in a first draft meeting the 60 page requirement. But the Studio used 12 pitch font. Suddenly, Gerrold had to cut 18 or so percent of his script. He was lucky: the reductions forced not only shorter scenes, but required Gerrold to tie actions to motivations of characters that remained—that’s where the “Tribbles don’t like Vulcans or Romulans” idea developed: out of necessity. Too bad there was no pitch confusion here. No one is editing Gerrold now, and it shows. If I was bored out of my mind, how long is some 13 1/2 year old going to stick with it? Not long, I fear. Nice guy; bad book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bint Arab

    I received an ARC of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. Not recommended. This book was a huge disappointment, the first book by David Gerrold that I've read and probably my last. There isn't much of a story: the book is part biology textbook and part political treatise. As such, it consists of one lecture after another, making for stilted, awkward conversational interactions between characters and long passages that contribute nothing to the story. The writing is poor (dangling mod I received an ARC of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. Not recommended. This book was a huge disappointment, the first book by David Gerrold that I've read and probably my last. There isn't much of a story: the book is part biology textbook and part political treatise. As such, it consists of one lecture after another, making for stilted, awkward conversational interactions between characters and long passages that contribute nothing to the story. The writing is poor (dangling modifiers abound, but maybe the editors will clean that up before the book is finally released). There are illogical plot points that I might have been willing to overlook for a good story, which this is not. There's lots of telling with sparse showing. Characters are so flat and dimensionless that I didn't care at all what happened to any of them, not even the narrator, Kyle Martin. Kyle is supposed to be neurodiverse, but the author has not done enough research into "neurodiversity" to depict a convincing character; apparently Gerrold believes that a "neurodiverse" child is distinguished only by temper tantrums and an aversion to being touched. This is not just a lost opportunity, it is insulting -- the author could have made the story truly outstanding if only he had delved deeper into Kyle's character, including exploring how his atypical mind works. But in the end, it turns out Kyle is just a prop for the plot because Gerrold needed a character with a computer chip in his brain in order for his staged plot resolution to work. This book fails the The Fries Test on disability representation in literature, a critique based on the stereotypes and ways that authors have depicted and used disabled characters in the past. It is problematic that (view spoiler)[the main character is "cured" of his disability by the end of the book; it turns out that Kyle is not really neurodiverse because he has either grown out of it or been "fixed" by the computer chip implant. (hide spoiler)] Who is the intended audience for this book? Kyle is supposed to be 13 yrs old, but I doubt any middle grade reader would have the patience to slog through this book. Adult readers? They would have more patience, but would likely give up before the end because there is so little story to reward that patience. Lovers of biology/ecology studies/conservationism? They would get much more out of a textbook than a description of this invented planet. Sci-fi fans? There are much better books out there, ones worth your investment of time. People interested in gender fluidity? Although the characters in this book can change genders completely and easily (to the point where a trans-woman can bear children in her own womb), there's no sense of gender identity. For example, a little girl decides to become a boy so she can have a penis like her brother -- it's not that she felt like she was a boy or that she felt that a boy's body would be truer to her self. Another missed opportunity and disappointing dismissal of so many real people's truths. I could go on, but I've made my point. This book is not worth reading. ~bint

  13. 4 out of 5

    deep

    PW Starred: "Hugo and Nebula Award–winner Gerrold (The Martian Child) showcases his powerful storytelling skills with this outstanding tale of interstellar intrigue. Hella is a planet of extremes, so named because its oxygen-rich atmosphere causes everything from the trees to the leviathans that inhabit it to grow “hella big.” The barely self-sufficient human colonists who call Hella home flee its blistering summers and harsh arctic winters in a biannual migration. Among these colonists is Kyle, PW Starred: "Hugo and Nebula Award–winner Gerrold (The Martian Child) showcases his powerful storytelling skills with this outstanding tale of interstellar intrigue. Hella is a planet of extremes, so named because its oxygen-rich atmosphere causes everything from the trees to the leviathans that inhabit it to grow “hella big.” The barely self-sufficient human colonists who call Hella home flee its blistering summers and harsh arctic winters in a biannual migration. Among these colonists is Kyle, a neuroatypical 13-year-old with a chip implant meant to regulate his emotions. This brain chip, which he calls “the noise,” allows him direct access to the colony’s vast computer database of information. As the colony prepares for a new crop of colonists to arrive from the ravaged remnants of Earth, Kyle’s outsider status and special access to the database lands him in the middle of a political conflict that threatens the future of the struggling colony. The worldbuilding is masterful, with hard scientific explanations for Hella’s many abnormalities and rich descriptions sure to keep the attention of even the most casual reader. The effortlessly diverse cast, complex political machinations, and heartfelt coming-of-age themes combine to create a fleshed-out vision of the future that is intense, emotional, and immersive while still maintaining a sense of rollicking fun. Sci-fi readers should snap this up. (June) "

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike Siedschlag

    I won a print copy of Hella by David Gerrold in a Goodreads Giveaway. I was given an uncorrected manuscript. It goes on sale officially 6/16/20, aka tomorrow. The only difficulty in reading for me was, no chapters. When I take a break from reading, I like to use chapter breaks as convenient stopping point. Didn't have that option here. Worth it to get to read this story prior to release. I really enjoyed this book. Told from the point of view of a teenage (on Earth) boy who used to be a girl. Kyl I won a print copy of Hella by David Gerrold in a Goodreads Giveaway. I was given an uncorrected manuscript. It goes on sale officially 6/16/20, aka tomorrow. The only difficulty in reading for me was, no chapters. When I take a break from reading, I like to use chapter breaks as convenient stopping point. Didn't have that option here. Worth it to get to read this story prior to release. I really enjoyed this book. Told from the point of view of a teenage (on Earth) boy who used to be a girl. Kyle appears to have a disorder of some sort, perhaps autism or Asperger's or the like. He has an implant which helps him function more "normally", but some people are put off by his lack of emotion. Hella is an Earth colony on a planet that is larger than Earth, has a weaker gravitational pull and higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. Everything grows to incredible size; Hella-big. We follow Kyle as he navigates life in the colony. Aside from the inevitable political conflicts and machinations which are well developed and interestingly voiced, the author paints a vivid picture of the flora and fauna of the Hellan landscape. Because of the severe weather patterns of the planet, a major part of the story is the trek to Winterland, the site for colder weather living. We wind up with an interesting take on the Scooby Gang taking on the bad guys. Although many references to, shall we say alternative lifestyles and sexuality, there is no real sex. Gigantic animals, humongous plants, young love, more mature love, wicked politicians and technology that is at times very useful and at times stifling to actual societal growth. All on a planet that can be openly hostile to human occupation. Altogether a Hella-fun fantasy read. Enjoy!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Fredrick Danysh

    The colonist on Hella have to deal where everything is oversized except for its gravity. Humans cane change sex at will. Kyle is considered a freak because he can interface with the computer network. As he reaches adulthood a new group of colonists and all of the problems of Earth start to rear their heads.This science fiction/fantasy book was a free advance read through Goodreads.com.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. ARC review for Netgalley. So this book has me all over the place. It is lost world meets coming of age kid with robot side kick. It is nothing like what I was expecting. The cover art is pretty misleading. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I was expecting a more tongue-in-cheek snarky humor piece. What I got instead was too many things to ponder. What I liked- World building...wowza. Nailed it. Everything is hella big—the people, the plants, the dinosaurs! Whaaat?There was no issu ARC review for Netgalley. So this book has me all over the place. It is lost world meets coming of age kid with robot side kick. It is nothing like what I was expecting. The cover art is pretty misleading. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I was expecting a more tongue-in-cheek snarky humor piece. What I got instead was too many things to ponder. What I liked- World building...wowza. Nailed it. Everything is hella big—the people, the plants, the dinosaurs! Whaaat?There was no issue with imagining Hella. Everything is described to minutiae. This is largely an intentional affect of Kyle’s syndrome and while the worldly details are mostly interesting, it made reading a bit tedious and boring. Luckily, the second half is a decent page turner and more typical SCI-fi. The Characterization is...eh, ok. I found Kyle to be very wooden, as he is supposed to be. But I didn’t find the other characters to be developed. He was unable to relate to them, neither was I. Actually that was the overarching theme. Kyle’s inability to connect with others, his desire for that connection and how connections makes us human. ‘“Now ask me how I feel. Ask me what I think.’ He said I should learn to do that, because that would help me learn about other people.” There is a lot of Exploring the connections between individuals, genders and relationships (LGBTQ). So as if human relationships aren’t enough, societal issues heavily feature in the book too. There are many good criticisms to ponder. One quote that sticks out as imminently relevant, “Government is the tool that people create to provide the necessary services of society. It is an instrument of service. It is the apparatus by which we manage our resources for the common good.” This was my first David Gerrod book so maybe all his books are like this. I just don’t really like to think when reading fantasy/SCI-fi.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heather Brock

    Hella is decent piece of sci-fi with some interesting ideas. The world-building is solid and fun. Everything is oversized-plants, animals, etc. It's an interesting mechanism to humble humans with since we tend to think we're at the apex of everything. Humans have had to adapt to Hella and learn to respect it. It's interesting to consider, since we as the human race can't even be stewards of our own planet. Would we be willing and able to respect the natural resources and organisms of another pla Hella is decent piece of sci-fi with some interesting ideas. The world-building is solid and fun. Everything is oversized-plants, animals, etc. It's an interesting mechanism to humble humans with since we tend to think we're at the apex of everything. Humans have had to adapt to Hella and learn to respect it. It's interesting to consider, since we as the human race can't even be stewards of our own planet. Would we be willing and able to respect the natural resources and organisms of another planet? I had a bit of difficulty with the narration. Using a neuro-atypical character to narrate is an important choice. I think the reader potentially having difficulty reading Kyle's POV possibly mirrors the difficulty neurodivergent individuals might feel with neurotypical folks at times. I applaud that, intentional or otherwise. I appreciated that this book caused me to consider and ruminate on so many different issues and aspects of life: Ethics and morality, environmental issues, politics, gender-fluidity, relationships of all kinds. Hella has a lot to say, but executes it in a fun way that doesn't feel oppressive. Thank you to DAW for providing a copy of this book for review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tamara Harpster

    I finished the Book Hella and found it to be a good read. It is a hard science type of book, with an humans settling and adapting to a new world. The larger part of the story is the exploration of human themes of government and community. The placement of the story on a non-Earth planet allows the exploration of these themes in a simpler setting then found on a large population planet like our home world. Although the themes of profit before stewardship resonate with our times, the settlers show I finished the Book Hella and found it to be a good read. It is a hard science type of book, with an humans settling and adapting to a new world. The larger part of the story is the exploration of human themes of government and community. The placement of the story on a non-Earth planet allows the exploration of these themes in a simpler setting then found on a large population planet like our home world. Although the themes of profit before stewardship resonate with our times, the settlers show have the maturity and tools humans should have in the future for dealing with the problems that occur. (view spoiler)[ The story of Hella is about a planet settled by humans that is still in the early stages. The world has a higher oxygen level in the atmosphere which leads to larger plants and animals. This led to the world getting named Hella for how hella bigger everything grows. The main character of the story is Kyle, a young person who is almost a teenager by Earth years. He has a syndrome that causes problems with social interactions so he also has a computer implant, which provides him tips for dealing with other people. In spite of the implant, Kyle has problems with getting misunderstood or bullied, especially by Marley, the daughter of a councilor of the settlers. Captain Skyler, Kyle’s mom and his older brother Jamie all look out for him and in spite of not quite fitting in, he finds a place in the Hella. When a ship approaches with more settlers, Kyle becomes a guide for them before they land. He creates films that explain life on Hella, and shows the variety of animals, and plants they will find in their new home. He gains respects of the colonists on Hella and creates a job for himself in creating tutorials about Hella. However, not everyone has the same goals for how Hella. Most of the settlers feels that they should proceed slowly and work to avoid mistakes that occurred during the exploration and settlement of Earth. Others feel they should expand as quickly as possible and are willing to do whatever it takes, including murder, to achieve their goals of putting profit and power first. When a few of the new settlers land, they bring an advanced artificial intelligence Harley with them. Kyle makes friends with the young people from the ship and Harley. As Administrator Layton works to consolidate his power and eliminate his opposition, Kyle and his new friends work with others to oppose the power grab. Many interesting parallels in the story with current world events and written with a focus on young people finding out that they can act to change things when the adults aren’t always able to intervene in time. There is some discussion of gender that may make some uncomfortable at this point in time. However, there are young people that I suspect would appreciate the mention of gender fluidity and that they aren’t alone in their differences. Since the syndrome Kyle has is most likely based on autism, the gender fluidity fits in with that mindset, based on current reporting from many older people who are on the spectrum. On a personal note, I did feel discomfort with how Kyle is portrayed. The authors has reported that the character was based on autism but was not meant to be defined in only that way. However, since the outward symptoms mimic autism, there is a strong feel that Kyle is autistic. I have direct experience with autism and have done research on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The research has included reports from adults on the spectrum and their experiences in life. The portrayal of Kyle showed him fitting in with society due to a computer implant, which implies that the syndrome is viewed as a disability to be overcome by the individual. Researchers are finding there are differences in the brains of autistic people when compared to non-autistic people which cause communication issues. However, when autistic/neurodivergent people talk with other autistic people, the problems are not apparent. Since neurodivergent people are not the majority in our cultures, they are normally the person expected to compensate in communications. This can lead to issues with anxiety and depression, which do not appear to be present in Kyle. His demeanor appears to be one of comfort with his culture, yet, the reactions of others around him appear to point to expectations that he compensate to meet their communication expectations. Based on the time setting of the story I would hope that there would be a better understanding of these issues that would lead to others, outside of family, working to better interact with the neurodivergent. Something like viewing the communications like a American communicating with a Japanese person. They might share a language such as English but both would have a different background and viewpoint of the world that could lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication. I believe it is this disconnect that led to the portrayal feeling off for myself. Kyle is portrayed as a mostly healthy individual yet the people around him have behaviors that indicate they may treat him partly as broken. Based on personal experience it does not feel like the mental health and disability would be displayed in this way. One other point, based on the colony size and the current estimated of neurodivergent within a population, I would expect there to be more people with syndromes within the colony. Perhaps Mr. Gerrold will explore this in a future book so that Kyle has others like him and share in his type of experiences. All in all, I enjoyed the story and I suspect the portrayal of Kyle will slip past most people and appear as a sympathetic portrayal of autism. In the end Kyle is viewed as part of the community and those who bully him are finally dealt with so that he won’t be bullied by them again. With the current view point of autistic people, adding another positive portrayal can help others to understand that world a bit more. Thank you Mr. Gerrold for another good book. (hide spoiler)]

  19. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    **I received an advance copy of this book from a Goodreads Giveaway! These are my honest opinions** I truly enjoyed Hella by David Gerrold. Hella is the story of colonists on a new planet, affectionately called Hella, home to lighter gravity and huge ... well, everything! The dinos are bigger, the flowers are bigger, and the days and years are longer! (Be prepared to do some Hella math throughout--otherwise your brain will skitter every time this teen calls himself four years old.) The story unfo **I received an advance copy of this book from a Goodreads Giveaway! These are my honest opinions** I truly enjoyed Hella by David Gerrold. Hella is the story of colonists on a new planet, affectionately called Hella, home to lighter gravity and huge ... well, everything! The dinos are bigger, the flowers are bigger, and the days and years are longer! (Be prepared to do some Hella math throughout--otherwise your brain will skitter every time this teen calls himself four years old.) The story unfolds through the eyes of Kyle Martin, a neurodivergent young man who has a bionic implant that allows him access to the colony's wealth of information via computer networks. The Hellan colonists are preparing for a new arrival of colonists from Earth, and Kyle is tasked with creating videos describing the beauties and terrors of life on Hella. This conceit functions extremely well in driving the story forward: we readers learn about Hella as the newcomers do, through Kyle's stream-of-consciousness narration and no-detail-too-small explication. With the impending crop of newcomers, however, comes political intrigue and machinations that Kyle cannot understand: he often cites his inability to understand nuance as the reason for his strangeness, but the people in his life constantly assure him that it is his unique outlook that makes him just the right person for this job. As the seasonal migration brings more than the standard challenges, Kyle has to learn to use and understand his special skills to help save his community and the people he loves. A note about the narration style: as mentioned, Kyle's first-person narration takes on a stream-of-consciousness feel, and therefore the book is not broken up into chapters. At first, I was offput by this, as I couldn't figure out when to stop myself reading, but as the pages turned, I realized I didn't want to stop reading at all, thus solving my dilemma!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    This is nothing but a has-been boomer's attempt at being PC and woke. And fails utterly at both. While Hella's backdrop of, well, Hella is very interesting, it's not used beyond "Hella is bad for humans". Gerrold spends a lot of time berating the trope of autistic people as dry, unfeeling automatons. His first blunder is that he writes his main character Kyle as a dry, unfeeling automaton. While he do sprinkle some emotion on the character through the first half of the book, by the time of a major This is nothing but a has-been boomer's attempt at being PC and woke. And fails utterly at both. While Hella's backdrop of, well, Hella is very interesting, it's not used beyond "Hella is bad for humans". Gerrold spends a lot of time berating the trope of autistic people as dry, unfeeling automatons. His first blunder is that he writes his main character Kyle as a dry, unfeeling automaton. While he do sprinkle some emotion on the character through the first half of the book, by the time of a major event in the middle you have exactly zero empathy for the character to even care. His second blunder is that he spends a lot of time mentioning something called "the noise". Besides calling it an implant a couple of times, he doesn't actually tell you what it is. So I'm going to tell you; it's a neuropathic brain implant that connects to the internet. Which leads to the third blunder: Hella can't communicate with Earth. But apparently Kyle can connect to the internet on Earth with his implant. Yet nobody knows what's going on back home. And then there's the fourth. The biggest one. Everyone is bi. Nobody is really male or female. You're a dude and want to be pregnant? Go to the medics and swap out your penis with a fully functioning set of female reproductive organs. You're a woman and can't pull off those cargo shorts? Just grow a penis. Easy as that. When Kyle gets a "boy friend", which is what Gerrold calls a boyfriend (and what the rest of us calls a male friend), Kyle literally says "Do you want me to be a girl? I used to be a girl. I can change back." And people having multiple spouses as if the mormons took over the galaxy. Gerrold tries to please everybody, and fails at everything.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John Clark

    A slow reading delight for science fiction fans liking a new world story. Hella's bigger than Earth in almost every way, planet size, creatures, seasons, weather, trees (a km. tall) and days. The colony there has been on planet for 40 Hella years and is about to receive 1200 new residents in from what might be the final voyage from a planet that has, or is about to experience complete ecological collapse. Kyle is almost 5 in Hella years, close to 13 in Earth ones. He has a unique condition that' A slow reading delight for science fiction fans liking a new world story. Hella's bigger than Earth in almost every way, planet size, creatures, seasons, weather, trees (a km. tall) and days. The colony there has been on planet for 40 Hella years and is about to receive 1200 new residents in from what might be the final voyage from a planet that has, or is about to experience complete ecological collapse. Kyle is almost 5 in Hella years, close to 13 in Earth ones. He has a unique condition that's never clearly spelled out and has a neural implant that helps him by leveling him as well as giving him access to all data in the colony at lightning speed. There's dissension among those in leadership roles and that is at the core of this story, but is by no means all of it. The way colonists can change gender, more than once id they so choose, the description of the flora and fauna, as well as why and how the colonists must migrate from a summer encampment to a winter one, complete with a great description of one such journey, provide readers with more than enough to satisfy their reading interest. A bang-up book!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Larry Tressler

    It's a story about people from Earth who have to start a new life on a new planet. The first half of the book was narrated by who we would call a "special needs" young man. In detail, he tells us of all the things about the planet. What to eat, what not to eat. How they built facilities on the planet. And pretty much the daily lives of he and his family. While interesting, I kept thinking, "Is this ever going to get a plot?" Then all of a sudden, it traps you with family tragedy, assassinations, It's a story about people from Earth who have to start a new life on a new planet. The first half of the book was narrated by who we would call a "special needs" young man. In detail, he tells us of all the things about the planet. What to eat, what not to eat. How they built facilities on the planet. And pretty much the daily lives of he and his family. While interesting, I kept thinking, "Is this ever going to get a plot?" Then all of a sudden, it traps you with family tragedy, assassinations, political unrest, and overthrows. It all surrounds our young narrator, or does it really? I had by doubts about this book, but I found it hard to put it down until I finished it 1.5 days later.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Nichols

    Wow The protagonist is neuro atypical and Gerrold does a wonderful job of portraying that as a complex human, not just backstory. It was interesting seeing behaviors I’d noticed in coworkers from the other side. Like all good science fiction, this is a great story that just happens to be set in a science fiction world. The descriptions of the ecosystems and technology add flavor to the story without overpowering it. I want to say more, but I don’t want to spoil the exploration and reveal to anoth Wow The protagonist is neuro atypical and Gerrold does a wonderful job of portraying that as a complex human, not just backstory. It was interesting seeing behaviors I’d noticed in coworkers from the other side. Like all good science fiction, this is a great story that just happens to be set in a science fiction world. The descriptions of the ecosystems and technology add flavor to the story without overpowering it. I want to say more, but I don’t want to spoil the exploration and reveal to another reader. Definitely worth a sequel, but only if Gerrold has more stories to tell in this world.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dmitry

    "The godfather is a mythical entity who speaks only in nuance" - yeah nice, I never thought of that, might actually be true, need to check "We washed each other in the shower" - cringe, I figured out about half way through that washing in the shower is a prudish space euphemism for sexual pleasure of at least two kinds "Charles, take the monkey" - ok that's better but wait it's almost over Tbc

  25. 5 out of 5

    Galen Strickland

    It has been several years since I read an unfinished draft of this novel, which I got directly from the author. The finished product comes out next month, and I have an ARC from Net Galley. I will re-read the draft first, just to see what changes and/or improvements David has made. EDIT: While there are a few things I could nitpick, they're minor, and I have no qualms about giving this 5 stars. It may take me a while to write a full review, cause there's a lot to unpack. Ostensibly a YA title, it It has been several years since I read an unfinished draft of this novel, which I got directly from the author. The finished product comes out next month, and I have an ARC from Net Galley. I will re-read the draft first, just to see what changes and/or improvements David has made. EDIT: While there are a few things I could nitpick, they're minor, and I have no qualms about giving this 5 stars. It may take me a while to write a full review, cause there's a lot to unpack. Ostensibly a YA title, it tackles some heady themes, and proves that good SF has as much to do with what's going on in the world today as it does a future the author is either looking forward to, or maybe trying to warn against. I'm likely to add to this review later, or maybe confine extra comments to my facebook page, but for now a streamlined review of Hella - http://templetongate.net/hella.htm

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

    The author wrote Hella as if he's lived there. The story is like walking into a huge mansion and into a room and into another room and so on. Parts seemed repetitive and the book a little long. It would be nice to have included a map and sketches.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melinda Botterbusch

    A good read of something different This book is different than anything I've ever read. Very interesting view of life possibilities on another planet. A little word heavy at times but still a good read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    Why would anyone give David Gerrold any time or money when he doesn't care about either of yours. Still waiting for 25 years for him to finish the Chtorr books.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason Adkins

    I pretty much picked this book out at random based on the cover, so went into it without knowing much of anything. Turned out to be a pretty good book, with some great world building. I've never read anything by David Gerrold before, but based on this, I'd say he's a big fan of Becky Chambers books. Plenty of LGBT characters and a happy ending. For me, the happy ending cost it a star, since the author didn't have the courage to follow thru with what they'd already done. Without giving too much aw I pretty much picked this book out at random based on the cover, so went into it without knowing much of anything. Turned out to be a pretty good book, with some great world building. I've never read anything by David Gerrold before, but based on this, I'd say he's a big fan of Becky Chambers books. Plenty of LGBT characters and a happy ending. For me, the happy ending cost it a star, since the author didn't have the courage to follow thru with what they'd already done. Without giving too much away, the ending could have been significantly less happy and it would still work with very minor re-writing. I'm fine with a happy ending, but not when it sacrifices half the book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Dauby

    A great read from a great author. I won't discuss details but it has an intriguing plot and memorable characters.

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