Girl From Above by Pippa DaCosta is a complex well-written science fiction fantasy about relationships between humans and “synths” (synthetic humans). There is space exploration, rogues who have few redeeming qualities, a mysterious insurgent identity known as the “Nine,” a controlling military identity (the “Fleet) and an overall powerful umbrella organization (Chitech) headed by a mysterious Chinese businessman. All of these introduced Book #1 of a planned series, “The 1000 Revolution.”
Chitech has been manufacturing synthetic human beings with distinctly identifiable personality traits of very rich humans who had exceeded their expiration dates. To assure their continued existence after human death the rich paid to have their personalities, knowledge, and skills embedded in a synthetic being which also exhibited extra-sensory powers. Only 1000 of the synthetics were to be produced; 500 males and 500 females. This assured prices for each synth would remain high and only the very rich and talented would have access to the technology. The appearance of synthetic #1001 upset the planned balance.
#1001 is a female synth with a mission; she is to kill Caleb Shepperd, the lead rogue of the story. Synths had controls built-in. They had assigned missions and fail-safe words to minimize dangerous deviations threatening to humans. But Dr. Grossman had disabled fail-safe devices for #1001, she would kill according to the pre-programmed instructions of Grossman. The modified instructions would take over whenever actions were required that involved Caleb and the fulfillment of the ultimate mission to kill Caleb. But #1001 had inner conflicts generated by the embedded human personality. Elements of that personality did not want to kill Caleb. The identity of the embedded personality and why she did not want to kill Caleb is only one mystery for the reader to explore.
Caleb is the rogue of the story. Even he thinks he is a flawed character. The captain of an outlaw and modified spaceship, he spends much of his life on the edge of the law, He deals in drugs, weapons, and most recently (but unwillingly) synths. If Chitech and their military arm, the Fleet, knew that Caleb was traveling with a synth, they would redouble their efforts to catch him. Caleb didn’t know that the Fleet knew about the synth and his other illegal cargo as well. Efforts to catch him had been enhanced and the lead commander assigned to catch or eliminate Caleb was his brother, Brendan. Caleb had been routinely able to avoid the Fleet up to now. How had they been so easily able to find him this time? There had to be an informer. The identity of the concealed enemy of Caleb is another mystery for the reader.
There were plenty of informer candidates. Because Caleb made his living dealing with criminals, all his clients were immediate suspects. Owing loyalty only to the amount of money to be earned, any of his clients would inform Fleet about the whereabouts of Caleb, especially to earn the bounty for a captured synth. #1001 had escaped from Dr. Grossman’s control and hidden on the Starscream, Caleb’s spacecraft. The additional cargo of weapons and drugs on the ship were an added bonus for the informer. Ben, a bounty hunter and thief, could be an informer. Then there was Creet, a leader of a gang of thieves and Bruno, yet another gang leader who was into human trafficking along with the usual products. Finally, there was Fran. Caleb’s second-in-command, the most talented space ship driver Caleb had ever met, always sarcastic and irreverent, and sexually unattainable, Caleb didn’t consider her a friend. For him, she was an enigma. She was also a possible informer. He had found her much as a person might discover and rescue an orphan. They had worked together for two years but they had yet to become as intimately involved as he wanted. The identity of the informer is a third mystery for the reader.
Although there is no definitive conclusion to this novel; it is Book #1 after all, there is a satisfying, surprise conclusion to this novel. There is a big, dark, secret that will be revealed. It is the fourth mystery but one in which the reader will have to discover the question and its answer.
The novel is fast-paced with well-developed principal characters. Chapters appear with character name titles and the reader will have to pay attention because some of the characters have more than one named identity. DaCosta makes the synths real; the reader will find a society inhabited by synths and humans normal. There is an adults-only warning which I believe to be over-rated. On this point, I disagree with many of the reviewers on Amazon. Yes, the novel could have been written and still be interesting without some of the sex scenes. Yes, I will not recommend this for the young adult crowd. But this was the way DaCosta chose to write the story. And I chose to read it.