Necropath (Bengali Station 1) by Eric Brown (Solaris 2008)

Down to earth science fiction
on a multi cultural space station

The Bengali Station series is what got me really into Eric Brown’s writing and it still is the best of what I have read of him a year later. I started with Xenopath and Cosmopath because this one took forever to get to me, I think there was snow in the UK and everything stopped including the Royal Mail (that is really exotic for us who are used to a meter of snow in the winter. No we don’t have polar bears on the streets that are in Norway).

The setting is Bengali station and just the name tickles your imagination. Jeff Vaughan, the main character is a bitter and jaded telepath earning his living scanning arriving starships for unwanted elements. He hates being a telepath seeing the severs in the minds of the humans he meets at work, but he hates himself most of all so he hangs at a bar where he befriends a young girl Tiger who becomes his only friend but she is even lower than he and before long she overdoses on a new drug called Rhapsody. This set of a chain of events that tie into another discovery he makes concerning his boss at the spaceport and an off-world religious cult with ambitious plans. What is going on is much bigger and grander than you suspect at first but it is released step by step and it keeps you guessing up until the very conclusion.

I particularly liked the Hindu and Thai cultural parts of the story exemplified by Tigers younger sister Sukura left behind in the bar district below, dreaming of reuniting with her sister. Her life is really miserable and unfortunately it might only be the aliens that are the difference for many people that make their living there today. It is chilling if you really think of what is going on in some of those scenes.

This would make a great movie; the tension and suspense are great. Vaughan explores mysterious temples and alien worlds, are stalked by would be assassins from his past and are trapped by aliens while trying to uncover the truth with his reluctant police confidante Chandra.

This is a gritty and earthy story set on a space station that reminds of the tourist traps of the Far East. Jeff Vaughan is a flawed piece of humanity but that makes him more interesting and you know how much I like characters and there is a lot of personality in this one. It lives up to the high expectations I got from reading the two sequels. Highly recommended.

Book information

Necropath (Bengali Station 1) by Eric Brown (Solaris 2008) – Amazon US | UK – I bought my copy from Amazon

Bengal Station: an exotic spaceport that dominates the ocean between India and Burma.

Jaded telepath, Jeff Vaughan, is employed by the spaceport authorities to monitor incoming craft from the stars. There, he discovers a sinister cult that worships a mysterious alien god. The Church of the Adoration of the Chosen One uses drugs to commune with the Ultimate, and will murder to silence those who oppose their beliefs. The story follows Vaughan as his mistrust of his fellow humans is overturned by his love for the Thai street-girl Sukura, while he attempts to solve the murders and save himself from the psychopath out to kill him. Necropath is Eric Brown’s triumphant return to hard SF.