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REVIEW: 2176: The Birth of the Belt Republic – Ted Butler

2176: The Birth of the Belt Republic - Ted Butler

Genre: Sci-Fi, YA

Reviewer: Scott

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About The Book

His Principal tricked into a swimming pool of dessert? Corporate blacklisting? Riots? Jail breaks? Rocks against machine guns? Rescues? Gas attacks? Space battles? After corporate blacklisting, Gil’s perfect life went into the trash, but it sure got interesting.

The greedy corporation has all the big guns and all the little ones too. The Belters have rocks. Hopeless?

Honor student Gil helped set up the swimming pool prank with 300 kilos of dessert. That prank went badly wrong.

Gil has to grow up fast. He joins a secret society, helps a forbidden space rescue.

He has to break out of jail. Then he deals with a riot, and a lynch mob. That’s how the independence war starts for Gil Klanz.

The Review

I just finished the first book in Ted Butler’s Belt Republic series. This is Gil Klanz’s story, but it’s also the story of how the belters broke away from Earth’s control to form their own, well, republic.

The story is told entirely from Gil’s point of view, a choice that gives it cohesion but also means we can only see what Gil sees. For someone like me who loves to write multiple point of views and to read the same, it’s a little limiting, but Butler manages to give us a pretty clear picture of what’s going on.

The story begins with Gil and his friend Larry getting kicked out of ABCC High School after a pool prank — filling the water with gelatin — almost goes horribly awry. Gil, an Earther, is thrown out of the Belt Corporation environs and is sent to live among the belters.

Gil finds his way, snagging a job with a freight hauling company even though many native belters view the Earther with suspicion. Soon Gil gets swept up in the belter independence movement, and everything shifts.

Butler had clearly done his research here. When Gil transitions to a weightless environment, he gets all the details right. The way normal Earth gestures have consequences in zero gee. How any wall can be a floor, and the limitations the airless void and physics place on real space travel. You get a real sense of what it would be like to live on an asteroid.

The characterization of the secondary characters is bit thin, outside of Gil himself, but in him we get a fully realized character coming of age in the midst of difficult circumstances. He’s resourceful, and listens to those around him before jumping into action. He’s a bit of a snot with his mom at first, but hey, what teenager isn’t?

As the book picks up steam, There are explosions and space battles, new friends made and others lost. I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say it wraps up on a hopeful note, and sets up the many adventures I’m sure are to come. If you’re looking for something like the Expanse but a little lighter, head on out to the Belt Republic. You won’t be disappointed!

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.  

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