The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Downbelow Station begins with an overview of the years 2005-2352, during which time Earth falls under the dominion of the Company, a politico-commercial entity that invests in interstellar exploration. This investment results in dominion over known space that is uncontested until a rival power emerges from the distant colony worlds located in a region of space known as The Beyond. This power, the Union, grows swiftly, fueled by a mass eugenics program that creates a burgeoning population of laboratory-born soldiers and workers.

Friction between Earth and the Union causes Earth to establish the Fleet, an interstellar flotilla that protects Company interests in interstellar space. The decline of Earth and the Company leads to retrenchment and neglect, leaving the Fleet without support, save that which it can beg, borrow, or steal from the Company space stations, which are the most important assets in colonized space.

The story begins on Pell station. Captain Signy Mallory, in command of the fleet-carrier Norway, demands docking privileges in order to complete the evacuation of refugees from Mariner station, which has been destroyed by the Union. Mallory, a good leader whose basic honesty is offset by ruthlessness and a considerable ego, also deposits a Union prisoner on Pell station. This prisoner, test-tube born Josh Talley, elects to have his memories erased rather than to recall the horrors of his service to the Union and of his sexual enslavement to Mallory.

The influx of refugees compels Damon Konstantin, the son of station chief Angelo Konstantin, to accept increasingly dangerous positions of authority as the station’s resources are pushed to the breaking point. His wife, Elene Quen, discovers that her entire family has been killed by the Union at Mariner. Filled with a desire for vengeance, Elene does not immediately accept Da-mon’s caretaking friendship for the now amnesiac and forlorn Josh Talley.

On Pell’s Planet, the mostly habitable world that Pell station orbits,...

(The entire section is 837 words.)