Kaus wants nothing more than to be loved while its human counterpart, Raj Patel, believes fervently in freedom. Arkadia, one of four space stations circling Jupiter, was to be a refuge for all who fought the corrupt systems of old Earth, a haven where both humans and Artificial Intelligences could be happy and free. But the old prejudices and desires are still at play and, no matter how well-meaning its citizens, the children of Arkadia have tough compromises to make.
When the future of humanity is at stake, which will prove more powerful: freedom or happiness? What sacrifices will Kaus, Raj, and the rest of Arkadia's residents have to make to survive?
"Wehm writes novels of ideas in which the ideas genuinely matter… [I]t's a pleasure to see political and ethical questions, so often relegated to the background in science fiction, allowed so much scope to drive the story."– David Larsen, review, New Zealand Herald
"This was a fascinating book. The setting is a classic of science fiction: a bunch of idealistic settlers embark on creating an idealized society in a space station colony. There are two unique twists: the artificial general intelligences that accompany them have, in theory, equal rights and free will as the humans. There are no antagonists: no one is out to sabotage society, there's no evil villain. Just circumstances."– William Hertling, author, The Turing Exception
"Children of Arkadia is one of those books which makes you think, while also being engaging and entertaining — something all good books do… a novel which forces us to consider how, given the opportunity to start from scratch, society might develop and evolve."– Lee Murray, author, Into the Ashes
Raj Patel pressed his face against the porthole, his fingers locked tight around the nearby handhold. His stomach lurched and rolled, only partly because he was still unused to weightlessness. Mostly it was the emotional stew created by the sight of the massive planet appearing before him, its almost inconceivable bulk entirely obscuring the four wheel-shaped habitats he knew were there, orbiting Jupiter. Sat Yuga, Fiddler's Green, Eden and Arkadia.
He rolled the word around in his mind. Arkadia. His new home.
A reflection in the port caught his eye and he clumsily turned himself. It took him a moment to recognize her — it was the biologist, Marian something — bouncing off the sides of the small corridor as if she'd been born in space. "Almost there," she said, deftly grabbing a handhold to halt her momentum.
Raj nodded, then regretted the quick head movement as a wave of pain washed over him. "Ugh," a groan escaped from him. "The sooner the better," he said.
Marian smiled. "Good thing we slept through the bulk of the trip, eh?"
"I almost wish we could sleep until we're docked."
"And miss the view?" Marian asked, squeezing next to Raj to peer out the port. Raj twisted himself around again and gazed at the planet.
It was huge and foreign and Raj was momentarily stunned by a wave of homesickness. He couldn't wait to leave Earth but now he couldn't help but think back to the planet he'd left behind.
He reminded himself again why he was here: after spending years helping to organize the growing economic protest movement, Raj finally came to understand that restoring balance was never going to happen peacefully. The urban battles breaking out all over the globe made that clear enough. Even as he organized activist cells and lobbied sympathizers, he signed up for everything that might get him out of the EU working class slums — visas to Scandinavia, a place in a kibbutz, even the Utopia Project. But until he was actually aboard the Mohandas Ghandi, the IV in his arm, he had never really believed it would be the one.
Hardly anyone had given the Utopia Project much chance, which Raj now guessed might have been the key to its success. The project's sponsors had money, ideals and the realistic view that radical change wasn't about to happen on Earth any time soon. But their solution was so audacious, so expensive, that it seemed to verge on the impossible. Until it happened.
"Look," Marian said, her finger mashed against the port. "I think I can see one of the habitats!" Raj squinted and imagined that he, too, could make out the construct in the shadow of the planet. The feeling of loss transitioned into the same euphoria Raj experienced when he'd learned that he'd been given a berth on the first transport to the colonies. Almost everyone on the Ghandi was technical — scientists or engineers. There were only spots for four political activists, each acting as the administrator for a habitat, and Raj had been chosen for one of them. The opportunity to trade everything he'd ever known for a chance at freedom.
For the first time since he was woken from the induced coma he'd been in for the two years of the trip, his head stopped hurting. Marian grabbed his arm.
"This is so exciting," she said. "I can't believe we're almost home."