the Little Red Reviewer

Particle Horizon, by Selso Xisto

Posted on: June 30, 2012

Particle Horizon, by Selso Xisto

published in 2012

where I got it: received copy from the author

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How deep into the foundations of the universe can we truly observe? What will we see when we get there? Famous researcher Dr. Baghdarasian has made learning those secrets his life’s work. The phrase “particle horizon” refers to how far we can see with a microscope.

As the story opens, we get some minimal background about the current state of humanity. With Earth as the center of our civilization, we’ve colonized planets and moons all over the place, even hollowed out a handful of asteroids and very small moons. Once outside the solar system, humanity is generally split into two psuedo Empires: the Union which follows a strictly atheistic culture and has no room for any type of religious faith; and the Alliance, a very religious culture with no room for any kind of doubt in their deity and priests. The two cultures are polar opposites with no space for anything inbetween, so of course there is a lot of tension between them, not to mention the pressures their citizens are under to conform.

The space navies of both cultures have converged on the hollowed out asteroid of Angelhaven, where a battalion of Alliance Lightbringer troops have attacked the main city. Angelhaven is also  the home of Dr. Baghdrasarian and his android daughter Una. Una was designed with what amounts to a quantum computer for a brain, and until now she’s never really paid attention to the numbers she’s been crunching.  Her father has discovered something amazing. Something that could change the course of humanity’s future, and both the Alliance priesthood and the  Union governments desperately want to get their hands on it, or on Una, who stores the secret deep in her mind.


Particle Horizon is split into a handful of connected plot lines, following the POVs of a number of  people from different factions. We have Una, who desperately wants to earn the friendship of other children her age by proving she’s “a real girl”; Xavier, a front line specialist in the special forces of the Union;  the starcrossed couple Aja and Gabriel, conscripts in the Alliance military with hopes of escape and saving Aja’s unborn child; along with a handful of other characters and plot lines. All this against the background of an attack on the major population center of Angelhaven and mankinds first contact with an alien race. All this crammed into less than 350 pages.

In Particle Horizon, Xisto explores more science fiction ideas than you can shake a stick at, and he populates the story with characters from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. if you are a fan of high paced high octane action stories with a military SF bent (such as S. Andrew Swann’s Apotheosis series), you may get a kick out of Particle Horizon.

Unfortunately, this book just didn’t work for me. There was too much style, and not enough substance. There was so much happening so fast, I had a tough time getting emotionally invested in the story or caring about the characters.  Of the massive amount of characters I felt only Xavier and Una had much development, and many of the secondary characters blended into one another.  Military scifi has never been my thing, so I certainly can’t blame the author if the siege scenes didn’t do anything for me, although Xisto certainly went the extra mile with  details of shapes, sizes, and speeds of missiles, guns and grenades and exactly what those weapons do to the human body.

I’m also not quite sure about the religion/anti-religion aspects of the book. In the end, I just found them heavy handed and overdone. Is our universe naturally occurring, or was the hand of some higher power involved?   An excellent concept to explore within science fiction and one I think authors shouldn’t shy away from. However I believe Particle Horizon would have been more of a success if it had more on the character and worldbuilding side of the equation and less on the weaponry and physical object detail side.

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6 Responses to "Particle Horizon, by Selso Xisto"

Probably would never have been my thing – but pity it didn’t work for you. Sounds like a bit too much details in the missiles area!
Lynn :D

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The author’s got an apt name for the genre.

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yeah he does! is that the coolest name you’ve ever heard, or what? only other writer I know who comes close in the “totally cool name” department is Mazarkis Williams.

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Might sound interesting but for the emphasis on religion/anti-religion, which by it’s very nature is to contentious while all quasi philosophical. Not reading I’d pick by choice. Motivations such as power, greed, wealth and scientific curiosity make more sense to me, and it sounds like those are pesent as well, but the religious thing just throws me off at the start. The other thing is too much crammed into too little space, though 350 pages is a lot in my opinion. I know this is the day of the doorstop SF novel, but the classic authors in the earlier decades didn’t need that length, and I don’t see why it should be necessary now, even if if I do read some of them. Too bad.

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there were so many plot lines that I’m still not sure if the religion thing was the true focus, or if that’s what leapt out at me the most. Still not sure if I was reading too into things, or if our mad scientist character really was looking for proof of intelligent design in the universe and then misinterpreted what he was looking at. If I’d known that was a focus of the book, I probably would not have picked it up, because much of the religious aspects rubbed me the wrong way. that’s not the author’s fault, i just have a personal aversion to that sort of thing.

I can usually handle the doorstopper books, and have an appreciation for the quickies too. I suppose length of the book depends on the story you are trying to tell? Had this been a doorstopper of a space opera (with all those extra pages used for characterization and world building) it would have actually been better.

every so often I take a chance on self pubbed/indie pubbed books. Maybe I’m a total snob, but for the most part I am disappointed, this time included. I know authors are so very impatient to see their books and labors of love in print. . . but still. the more often I am disappointed the less likely I am to take a chance on the next self pubbed/indie pubbed author who contacts me.

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Good answer. I’ll have a doorstopper SF review Wednesday.

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