A supremely assured first novel that charts a new world as it is destroyed by old enmities.
Two narrators tell the story of the simmering tensions between their two communities as they travel out to a new planet, colonise it, then destroy themselves when the tensions turn into outright war.
Adam Roberts is a new writer completely in command of the SF genre. This is a novel that is at once entertaining and philosophical. The attitudes and prejudices of its characters are subtlety drawn and ring completely true despite the alien circumstances they find themselves in. The grasp of science and its impact on people is instinctive. But above all it is the epic and colourful world building that marks SALT out the planet Salt rivals Dune in its desolation and is a suitably biblical setting for a novel that is powered by the corrupting influence of imperfectly remembered religions on distant societies.
From the early scenes set on a colony ship towed by a massive ice meteorite, to the description of a planet covered in sodium chloride, to the chilling narrative of a world sliding into its first war, this is a novel from a writer who shouts star quality.
Adam Roberts is the author of 14 SF novels, most recently Jack Glass (which won the UK BSFA and the US John Campbell awards for best SF novel, 2013), as well as a number of critical works about science fiction, including Science Fiction (Routledge, 2000) and The Palgrave History of Science Fiction (Palgrave 2006). He regularly reviews the genre for The Guardian and is also a Professor of 19th-century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London; where he also teaches Creative Writing to undergraduates, specialising in 3rd-year final projects in SF and Fantasy.