This is a fantastically alchemical tale set in a strange yet utterly real world. Hayden is a complex and well-developed protagonist and Schroeder is an amazingly detailed writer whose world-building is superb.

Virga is a fullerene balloon, five thousand miles in diameter, filled with air, rock, water and people. Those living within Virga build rotating settlements from wood and rope, which reside near resident-built fusion suns.

Years ago, the settlement of Aerie was absorbed into that of Slipstream, its fledgling sun destroyed and its architects killed. Their son, Hayden Griffin, has sworn revenge on the man who he believes masterminded Slipstream's destruction. (Tor, Oct., 320 pp., $24.95)
Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs