Half Way Home

Half Way Home

by Hugh Howey


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From the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Wool and the Molly Fyde saga comes a story of teenage colonists marooned on a distant planet.

Five hundred colonists have been sent across the stars to settle an alien planet. Vat-grown in a dream-like state, they are educated through simulations by an artificial intelligence and should awaken at thirty years old, fully-trained, and ready to tame the new world.
     But fifteen years in, an explosion on their vessel kills most of the homesteaders and destroys the majority of their supplies. Worse yet, the sixty that awaken and escape the flames are only half-taught and possess the skills least useful for survival.
     Naked and terrified, the teens stumble from their fiery baptism ill-prepared for the unfamiliar and harsh alien world around them. Though they attempt to work with the colony A.I. to build a home, tension and misery are rampant, escalating into battles for dominance.
     Soon they find that their worst enemy isn’t the hostile environment, the A.I., or the blast that nearly killed them. Their greatest danger is each other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780358213246
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 827,741
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.91(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Hugh Howey is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Wool, Shift, Dust, Beacon 23, Sand, and Machine Learning. His works have been translated into more than forty languages and have sold more than three million copies worldwide. Wool is currently in development for television at AMC, and Sand is in development at Amazon. Hugh lives aboard Wayfinder, a fifty-foot catamaran that he is sailing around the world.

Read an Excerpt

I was a blastocyst, once. A mere jumble of cells clinging to one another. A fertilized egg. Of course, we were all in such a state at some point in our lives, but I excelled at it in a way you didn’t. I spent more time in that condition than I have as a person.

Hundreds of years more, in fact.

I still like to imagine myself like that: a shapeless form, quivering and ripe and full of potential. Holding that image in my head makes it seem as if I haven’t been born yet, as if we could let things play out one more time and arrive at some different destination. Perhaps it would lead to a new, fuller me.

But repeating the past is as impossible as faster-than-light travel and suspended animation—it’s the stuff of the imagination. They’re wonderful ideas, but they all lie on the other side of what-can-be. So far as we know, anyway.

Hence the quivering eggs of potential, my fellow colonists and me.

What better way to seed the stars with the gift of humanity? Imagine the colony ships, otherwise: They’d be the size of small moons and packed to capacity with living, eating, breathing, defecating humans. Such arks would be impractical, even if those colonists could survive the ensuing insanity of interstellar travel, the hundreds of years of boredom and breeding and infighting that would occur on a slow passage to some distant rock. And what would happen when that rock proved uninhabitable?

Far more sensible, of course, is a system whereby blastocysts such as myself are launched into space with a handful of machines to raise us. Especially considering a colonial failure rate of roughly fifty percent. Every colony lander is nothing more than a flipped coin glimmering in space, the word “viable” printed on one side and “unviable” stamped on the other.

The game—your game—is seeing where that coin lands.

At a cost of nine hundred billion each, one might wonder why a nation would take such odds. Then I imagine what it would mean for a mere country to own an entire planet: all those resources, all that precious livable land, a launch pad for further expansion. It would be like an island acquiring a continent. Besides, if you don’t do it, someone else will, right? Which means you must.

The rewards can be enormous. A single patent on one useful alien gene sequence could fund several more colonies—and so although the process is a huge gamble, it’s one that has the potential to be extremely lucrative. It becomes just one more way for the wealthiest countries to maintain their wealth. Like a slot machine that dispenses a jackpot with every other coin.

That’s what “viable” means: a planet with more reward than risk. A jackpot. Not for the aspiring colonists, of course, but certainly for the country that sent them. I bet there are formulae involved, far too complex for one such as myself to understand. With the profession you chose for me, I have a better chance of grasping the vagaries of the human brain. But I can imagine the atmosphere of our new home has to read such-and-such parts per million. Perhaps the mass of the potential planet has to be within certain parameters. And obviously, there can’t be hordes of unconquerable predators roaming about.
There are a million variables, I’m sure, but by whatever confluence of events, half the planets pass muster—half of them come up viable, and our reward as little blastocysts is a chemical trigger, a simple compound that causes us to resume our cellular division as if we were in our mother’s wombs.

Then, fed through the same amniotic fluid we breathe, we are slowly transformed into pudgy babies, dutiful children, and finally: fully formed adults. All the while, the training programs you wrote teach us the things we need to know. For me, it would be learning to tend to the psychological needs of my fellow colonists—basically keeping the fleshy bits of your engines nicely oiled, putting the gears back together when they break.

The growing process would normally take thirty years. Three decades spent in vats that provide perfect nourishment, our muscles electrically stimulated so they grow strong. And when we emerged, five hundred of us, specialists in each of our own fields, we would begin the arduous task of conquering our new world. We would be the first generation of the hundreds it might take to bring an entire planet to its knees, to extract its resources, to unlock its secrets, and to pay back our startup fee and so much more to some old nation on some old distant rock.

Meanwhile, we’d save up for a further round of expansion. Our thumbs would cock back, a new coin ready to flip out into space.

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Half Way Home 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was really surprised about this book! Great plot and story line. I've never read anything like it before and I can't wait to read more from this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOOL remains my favorite of his, but this is creative, spooky, and thought-provoking. Howey is awesome sauce.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One thoughtful piece of science fiction with powerful characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good topic, interesting plot, but somehow a little bland.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is fascinating. I was drawn into the world of giants as if I were there. You can almost taste the bitter water and feel the trembling under your feet. Great job!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So refreshing to read a book that didn't employ a "recipe plot". The book and characters are well developed and thoughtfully presented. Hugh Howey is now on my favorite author list! 
emma-catherine More than 1 year ago
At first, when I started the book, I didn't think I would like it. It seemed a little out there for me. I am not use to reading anything considered "sci-fi." I must say though, I really enjoyed this book! As I was ending the book, I found that I loved the pro-life vs. pro-choice aspect (at least thats how I interpreted it). I was really intrigued how Howe incorporated a new twist on political issues. The book was very well written and I almost enjoyed it more then Molly Fyde. It was different yet I loved it! I kept reading it during my classes because I could not put it down! I will say, this is a more mature book. I am a freshman in high school but consider myself a more mature 9th grader. This book was very good and had some controversial issues. I must applaud Howe for his excellent work and I am looking forward to reading more of his work.
PSU303 More than 1 year ago
Hugh's ability to add a great new twist to the old cadre of space colonization novels is testament to his skill to intertwine great science fiction with the human element that appeals to all.  My fifth book by him and continues to thrill and give me hope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book execpt for one point... soiler alert if you readon... it was well written and believabl up until the rock eating metal life forms that crap gold... come on... give me a break. Also, to much foul language.
Verkruissen 2 days ago
Half Way Home is the story about our world trying to reach out and claim planets for their resources and the price someone is willing to pay to make money. When fifteen year old Porter is awakened 15 years earlier than he should have he realizes that their being saved was a decision the AI made after it discovered something on the planet that at first was deemed nonviable. With only a fraction of the 500 member crew surviving it's up to him and his group of companions to decide if fate will destroy them all of if they have the strength to create their own future on this planet. I thought that this was a great story, it was a quick read, the characters were well developed and the story line unique. The book was originally published in 2010 so I am guessing there won't be a follow up though the story did end with what could be a great series. It was a good story on it's own as well. A good choice for readers of Andy Weir.
SheTreadsSoftly 17 days ago
Half Way Home by Hugh Howey is a recommended YA science fiction novel. This is a reprint of an earlier published novel. In order to colonize distant worlds, the purposed colonists are sent out as blastocysts, or fertilized eggs. If the AI determines that the new world is viable and worthwhile to colonize, the future colonists are allowed to start developing in vats. They are trained and educated in the vats and then released or born at age 30. If the world is not deemed viable for the colony, then the mission is aborted and the colonists and the ship is destroyed. When a fire erupts and the colonists are released from their vats prematurely at age 15, they are directed to exit the ship. Only 61 of the sent 500 colonists survive, and these survivors are half taught. Now they need to try and survive as well as complete the ship that the AI, the Colony, is insistent must be sent. The survivors break into groups/cliques that seem to be based on their job training and some innate inborn genetic issues about control and dominance. Porter is the narrator and he was being trained to be the ships psychologist. Now he is half trained and beginning to realize that he is not attracted to girls, like the other boys. He also realizes, along with others, that the fire was the AI starting the abort sequence but then inexplicably stops it. Why start and stop the abort sequence? And what about the world started this? First, I actually enjoyed this novel quite a bit and was able to set aside my many logistics questions, misgivings, and doubts. It is imminently readable and the plot is engaging. On the other hand there are several negatives that I overlooked while reading, but couldn't ignore. It's akin to any great idea that is not completely thought out. So, in the end, the narrative is a great concept, but wasn't fully envisioned and realized here. There are some great moments and it is a fast and easy read, so if you can easily set disbelief aside you might enjoy it. This is an airplane book. It will hold your attention, but if you should set it aside or lose it, it ultimately won't matter. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book well worth your time and money. Its what you'd expect from the author of Wool.... an interesting plot with unexpected twists that gives you deeper things to think about during and after you read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Wool/Dust, etc., but...
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed! Stand alone story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first read by this author. Overall, I found the book interesting but not spectacular.
eamnj More than 1 year ago
A good premise and story but the writing was a little less polished than his books, "Sand" and the Silo trilogy"
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