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Shaun, Arts Award Carnegie and Greenaway Shadowing Group

Railhead

Set in a sprawling rail network, Railhead is a real tour de force of science-fiction writing. The concept itself is ingenious – amplifying the mundane concept of commuting up to the fantastic as each station is actually a destination on another planet linked by the mysterious K-gates. Every stop is described in breath-taking detail, from the myriad hues of foreign horizons and the rush of un-light in the tunnels between stations, to the human constructions littering the landscape, although from the evocative language we can tell even these are alien beyond the technology we have currently mastered.

We start off in the thick of the action as the main character Zen Starling is escaping with his shoplifted bounty, and the pace only ramps up from there as he gets caught in the web of conflicting interests involving enigmatic fugitives, the militant officers of Railforce, the ruling family of the Network and a host of other beings besides humans. The characters are delightfully 3-dimensional – a personal favourite moment for me is when an android character takes offence at being asked about who ‘created’ her, preferring instead to say he ‘started’ her. It’s moments like this that really endear you to the leading cast. The characters at odds with each other are just as intriguing and will keep you guessing right up to the end as to who can or should be trusted.

With a story that is inspired and will capture your imagination at every turn, every chapter will take you on a wide and varied emotional journey. This is an ideal introductory novel to sci-fi, as it deals with a number of themes in an intelligent and thought provoking way, paving the way for teens to explore the vast spectrum of science fiction literature.

I would highly recommend Railhead and leave you with this final suggestion: for the full experience, you should read it on a train.

Posted on: 28th April 2017 at 02:21 pm

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