Genre: Military Sci-Fi
Length: 305 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Publication Date: January 17th 2017
In The Fortress at the End of Time, humanity has expanded across the galaxy by use of ansible and clone technology, but an enemy stands in their way—an enemy alien in concept as much as physiology. Ronaldo Aldo is a clone stationed in the back-end of nowhere—a watch station with a glorious military past, but no future. He’s desperate to prove himself worthy of ascension—of having his consciousness broadcast to a newer clone, far away from his current post at the Citadel.
The Fortress at the End of Time is a fascinating yet very depressing little book following miserable characters living in a bleak station at the edge of the universe where the suicide rate is so high people don’t even talk to recruits before months because “what’s the point of talking to you if you are going to kill yourself after right?”.
So if you are expecting this book to be an action packed military SF books full of badass fighting scenes and cool characters, I wouldn’t especially recommend this.
However, The Fortress at the End of Time is a truly unique book set in a future where humans can be cloned to other planets thanks to a device called an ansible. The main character, Ronaldo Aldo, is one of such clone who happens to be sent in the worst place possible, the Citadel. Humans have fought and won a war against aliens years ago near the Citadel, and now, a hundred or so of soldiers live there, trying to find a meaning to their boring lives. Aldo’s only hope is for his next clone to “transcend”, to be sent on another planet which is the closest thing to immortality in this world. The thing is, almost everyone on the Citadel hates him.
Aldo is not necessarily a bad man, he is just a very awkward person and not in a cute way at all. During the entire book, he is trying his best to improve the living conditions of the Citadel but his every efforts are seen as insults by the other soldiers and he slowly becomes the scapegoat of the outpost and his victimization only reinforces his need to transcend.
The Fortress at the End of Time is not an easy read, it is extremely well written and very smart but it’s not fun, it’s definitely not a light read and you are probably not going to enjoy it. I really liked what it was trying to do, it is a very ambitious book and I think it did its job well. However, it is very pessimistic and heavy and the main character is pretty unlikeable. I was rooting for him during the entire book but after reading a handful of reviews, I realized that most of the readers thought Aldo was huge prick.
In my opinion, The Fortress at the End of Time explored in a fascinating way how isolation can affect human behaviours. It feels almost claustrophobic, all the humans on the Citadel know they are going to die here after living a long and dull life doing next to nothing on a rock on the edge of the universe and it’s fascinating to see how it affects their lives.
If this study of humanity sounds like it might interest you, I would highly recommend it, otherwise, I don’t think that you should bother. I really liked it but I don’t mind reading very depressing SF books because oddly, it’s what I tend to gravitate towards but I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea.