Hellhole

Hellhole

by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson

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Overview

Only the most desperate colonists dare to make a new home on Hellhole. Reeling from a recent asteroid impact, tortured with horrific storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and churning volcanic eruptions, the planet is a dumping ground for undesirables, misfits, and charlatans…but also a haven for dreamers and independent pioneers.

Against all odds, an exiled general named Adolphus has turned Hellhole into a place of real opportunity for the desperate colonists who dare to make the planet their home. While the colonists are hard at work developing the planet, General Adolphus secretly builds alliances with the leaders of the other Deep Zone worlds, forming a clandestine alliance against the tyrannical, fossilized government responsible for their exile.

What no one knows is this: the planet Hellhole, though damaged and volatile, hides an amazing secret. Deep beneath its surface lies the remnants of an obliterated alien civilization and the buried memories of its unrecorded past that, when unearthed, could tear the galaxy apart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765362582
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 11/29/2011
Series: Hellhole Trilogy Series , #1
Pages: 688
Sales rank: 757,774
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

BRIAN HERBERT has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. In 2003, he published Dreamer of Dune, a Hugo Award–nominated biography of his father.

KEVIN J. ANDERSON has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the SFX Reader's Choice Award. He set the Guinness-certified world record for the largest single-author book signing.

Read an Excerpt

Hellhole


By Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2011 DreamStar, Inc., and WordFire, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6516-3


CHAPTER 1

That morning's smoke storm left a greenish haze in the air. Over the course of the day, intermittent breezes would scour the fine layer of grit from the reinforced buildings ... or maybe the weather would do something entirely different. During his decade of exile, planet Hallholme had always been unpredictable.

Tiber Maximillian Adolphus arrived at the Michella Town spaceport, several kilometers from the main settlement, ready to meet the scheduled stringline hauler with its passengers and much-needed cargo. After Lt Spencer, his driver, parked the ground vehicle in the common area, Adolphus made his way to the crowd that was already gathering.

Seeing him, his old troops offered formal salutes (the discipline was automatic for them); everyone on the colony still referred to him as "the General." Even the civilian families and penal workers greeted him with real, heartfelt respect, because they knew he had made the best of an impossible situation in this terrible place. Adolphus had single-handedly shown the colony how to survive whatever the world had to throw at them.

The landing and loading area looked like a bustling bazaar as people prepared for the scheduled downboxes from the hauler that had just docked in orbit. Underground warehouse hangars were opened, waiting for the new cargo to fall from the sky. Flatbeds were prepped to deliver perishables directly to Michella Town. The colony merchants were anxious to bid for the new materials. It would be a free-for-all.

Though the spaceport clerks had a manifest of items due to arrive from other Constellation worlds, Adolphus knew those lists were rarely accurate. He hoped the downboxes wouldn't contain another shipment of ice-world parkas or underwater breathing apparatus, which were of no use here.

The persistent mix-ups couldn't be explained by sheer incompetence. Back on Sonjeera, Diadem Michella made no secret that she would shed no tears should the banished rebel General perish on his isolated colony. And yet he and his people continued to survive.

In the first year here, Adolphus had named the initial planetary settlement Michella Town in her "honor." The Diadem knew full well it was a veiled insult, but she could not demand that he change the name without looking like a petty fool. A number of locals called the place Helltown, a name they considered more endearing than the other.

"Why the formal uniform today, Tiber?" came a familiar voice from his left. "Looks like you had it cleaned and pressed just for the occasion."

In the bustle of people anticipating the stringline hauler's arrival, he had not noticed Sophie Vence. As the colony's largest distributor of general goods, Sophie always had a strong claim on arriving shipments. And Adolphus liked her company.

He brushed the lapel of his old uniform, touched the medals on his chest, which his followers had given to him even after his defeat. "It stays clean from one occasion to the next, since I wear it so rarely." He ran his fingers along the tight collar. "Not the proper clothing for this environment."

Sophie had wavy dark brown hair, large gray eyes, and the sort of skin that looked better without makeup. She was in her early middle age, a decade younger than Adolphus, but she had been through a great deal in her life. Her generous mouth could offer a smile or issue implacable instructions to her workers. "You don't usually come to meet stringline arrivals. What's so interesting about this one? You didn't mention anything last night." She gave him an endearing smile. "Or were you too preoccupied?"

He maintained his stiff and formal appearance. "One of the Diadem's watchdogs is on that passenger pod. He's here to make certain I'm not up to any mischief."

"You're always up to mischief." He didn't argue with the comment. She continued, "Don't they realize it's not much of a surprise inspection if you already know about it?"

"The Diadem doesn't know that I know. I received a coded message packet from a secret contact on Sonjeera." Plenty of people back in the old government still wished that his rebellion had succeeded.

One of the humming flatbeds pulled up before them in a cloud of alkaline dust, and Sophie's eighteen-year-old son Devon rolled down the driver's compartment window. Strikingly good-looking, he had a muscular build and intense blue eyes. He pointed to a cleared area, but Sophie shook her head and jabbed a finger southward. "No, go over there! Our downboxes will be in the first cluster." Devon accelerated the flatbed over to the indicated area, where he grabbed a prime spot before other flatbeds could nose in.

Work administrators gathered by the colony reception area for the new batch of convicts, fifty of them from a handful of Constellation worlds. Because there was so much to be done on the rugged colony, Adolphus was grateful for the extra laborers. Even after a decade of backbreaking work and growing population, the Hallholme settlements teetered on the razor's edge of survival. He would put the convicts to work, rehabilitate them, and give them a genuine fresh start – if they wanted it.

He shaded his eyes and gazed into the greenish-brown sky, searching for the bright white lights of descending downboxes or the passenger pod. After locking onto the planet's lone terminus ring in orbit, the giant stringline hauler would release one container after another from its framework. When the big ship was empty, the pilot would prepare the hauler's skeleton to receive the carefully audited upboxes that Adolphus's colony was required to ship back to Sonjeera as tribute to the Diadem.

Tribute. The very word had jagged edges and sharp points. Among the governors of the fifty-four newly settled Deep Zone colony worlds, Adolphus was not alone in resenting the Constellation's demand for its share. Establishing a foothold on an exotic planet did not come easily. On most worlds, the native biochemistry was not compatible with Terran systems, so all food supplies, seed stock, and fertilizers had to be delivered from elsewhere. The task was even more difficult on devastated Hallholme.

Thinking back, Adolphus sighed with ever-present regret. He had launched his rebellion for grand societal changes ... changes that most citizens knew were necessary. And he had come close to winning – very close – but under fire and faced with treachery, he had made the only choice he could live with, the only moral choice, and now he had to live with the consequences of his defeat.

Even so, Diadem Michella couldn't accept her triumph for what it was. She had never expected the colony to survive the first year, and she didn't trust Adolphus to abide by the terms of his exile. So, she was sending someone to check on him – again. But this inspector would find nothing. None of them ever did.

A signal echoed across the landing field, and people scurried to get into position. Sophie Vence smiled at him again. "I'd better get busy. The boxes are coming down." She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, and he flushed. He hated the fact that he couldn't discipline his own embarrassment.

"Not in public," he said tersely. "You know that."

"I know that it makes you uncomfortable." She flitted away, waving at him. "Later, then."

CHAPTER 2

As the stringline hauler arrived at the terminus ring above Hallholme, Antonia Anqui found an unoccupied viewport inside the passenger pod and looked down at the planet. The pod was a standard high-capacity model, though not nearly full; few travelers chose this particular destination. No need for crowding at the windows, which was good, since Antonia didn't want company, conversation, or any attention at all.

The young woman stared through the star-sparkled blackness to the looming globe below. Hallholme looked rugged even from space. This planet had once been lush and hospitable to life, but now it looked mortally wounded. No wonder people called it "Hellhole."

But even this was better than Aeroc, the planet she'd fled in desperation. She had ridden the stringline network through the central hub on Sonjeera and back out, taking the transport line as far away from the Crown Jewel worlds as she could go. She only hoped it was far enough to hide and make a new life for herself.

As the stringline hauler docked, loud noises shuddered through the hull of the passenger pod. The hauler itself was little more than a framework on which numerous cargo boxes or passenger pods could be hung like grapes in a cluster. Antonia waited in both anticipation and dread. Almost there, almost free.

One after another, downboxes disengaged from the framework, drifting into lower orbit where they were automatically maneuvered towards the marked expanse of the Michella Town spaceport. Each time a downbox disengaged and fell away, she flinched at the vibration and thud.

Hallholme rotated slowly beneath her, exposing patches of water, empty continents, and finally the inhabited section, not far from the concentric ripples of the impact scar itself. Antonia caught her breath when she saw the huge bull's-eye where the asteroid had struck. The shattered crater was filled with glassy shock melt, surrounded by concentric ripples. Canyon-sized cracks radiated outward in a jagged pattern. Oozing lava continued to percolate to the surface through raw scars in the ground. Five centuries meant little on a geologic timescale, and the world was still wrestling with its recovery.

Yes, Hellhole was the last place anyone would think of looking for her.

At nineteen, Antonia knew how to take care of herself better than most adults did. During her past two years on the run, she had learned many ways to elude detection. She knew how to change her identity and appearance, how to get a job that would earn enough money for her to live on without raising questions; she knew how to be afraid, and how to stand up for herself.

Two years ago – a lifetime it seemed – she had been precious and pretty, a creature of social expectations, the owner of a fashionable wardrobe with garments for all occasions and any type of weather. She had another name, Tona Quirrie, but that was best forgotten; she would never – could never – use it again. As a debutante on Aeroc, she had flaunted different hairstyles and cuts of clothing because her mother assured her that such things made her beautiful. These days, Antonia did everything possible to make herself less attractive: her dark brown hair hung straight down to her shoulders, and she wore only plain, serviceable clothes.

She was the daughter of the manager of a large power plant on Aeroc, one of the old civilized planets long ruled by the Riomini noble family. They had a very nice home with a large kitchen, a pool in a terrarium room, and a well-tuned piano. Her mother loved music and often played at their special parties, but the best times were when she would withdraw to the conservatory alone, playing classical pieces or evocative, intricate melodies that might have been her own compositions, and Antonia sat in the hall, just listening. She even took lessons, hoping to become as good as her mother someday. Now the music was gone from her life.

When Antonia was seventeen, a dashing young man named Jako Rullins came to work for her father in the power-plant headquarters. At twenty-one, Jako was handsome, intense, clever, and obviously moving up in the world. He quickly made himself indispensible in her father's work and often came to their home for business meetings, which turned into social occasions.

When Jako fixed his attentions on young Antonia, she had been swept away, and her parents had not objected because they liked the young man. Jako was utterly focused on Antonia whenever they were together.

Four months later, Jako asked Antonia to marry him, and her surprised parents told him to wait, explaining that she was too young, although they encouraged him to continue to court her. Despite being upset by the delay, Jako swore that he would prove his devotion to her. Antonia remembered her father smiling at the promise. "I hope you do exactly that, Mr Rullins. Just give it time."

Jako, however, seemed to feel an urgency that Antonia found bewildering. Whenever they were alone, he tried to convince her that they should just escape somewhere, get married, and live their own lives. He was so earnest and optimistic that she almost said yes, but his intensity worried her. Although she loved Jako, she saw no reason to hurry. "We'll still be together in a year, and then we can have the grand wedding I've always dreamed of."

But Jako didn't want to wait. He grew edgier and more possessive, though he still played the part of a gentleman. A month later, after the pair came home from one of their frequent dates, her world ended in blood and lies ...

Over the next two years, Antonia learned to mistrust everyone around her. Jako taught her to be that way while the two of them were on the run. Then she escaped from him, too. With a new appearance and identity, she ran to the main Aeroc spaceport, completed an application in the colonization office, and signed aboard the next stringline ship heading for the Deep Zone planets. She didn't care which one.

The ship was bound for Hellhole.


* * *


"Anything to see out there?"

Antonia turned irritably. Next to her stood a grinning, good-humored man she'd noticed on the voyage out from the Sonjeera hub. She feared that he had somehow recognized her or tracked her down, but the man seemed cheery with everyone, blithely jabbering away, pleased with his choice to go to Hallholme.

"All the ports have the same view." She hoped he would get the hint and go away. He didn't.

"My name is Fernando – Fernando Neron. We're about to start a great adventure! And your name is?"

Though on her guard, Antonia realized that being too reticent would only raise suspicions. Besides, she'd have to get used to going by her assumed identity, so she decided to start now. "Antonia Anqui," she said. "Let's hope it's an adventure instead of an ordeal."

"Did you hear that, Vincent?" Fernando waved to another man who had been quiet during the entire trip. "She says she hopes it's an adventure instead of an ordeal!"

"I heard her." The other man nodded, more courteous than open and friendly. He had seemed preoccupied throughout the journey.

During the four-day stringline crossing, Antonia had kept to herself. Their private sleeping cabins were so tiny and claustrophobic that most passengers spent their days in the passenger pod's common room, which forced them to get to know one another.

Very few of those aboard seemed pleased with their situation. One group, an isolationist religious cult called the Children of Amadin, avoided their fellow passengers even more than Antonia did. The cult members were easily identified by square-cut hair – both men and women – and their baggy, pale blue uniforms, which did not look as though they would hold up in a dirty wilderness environment. Another oddball religious group, looking for the promised land on Hellhole ... or at least someplace where people would leave them alone.

A group of convicts – men and women sentenced to exile on Hallholme – was kept in a separate compartment; the Constellation liked to wash its hands of such problems and let the Deep Zone administrators deal with them. Other travelers aboard the pod were commercial representatives and government officials, engrossed in their own business and hardly interested in the other passengers.

"So what brings you to a place like Hellhole, young lady? What are you – eighteen, nineteen? And very pretty, not a typical colonist." Fernando seemed genuinely friendly.

In her years on the run, Antonia had learned never to reveal too much about herself. She tried to be just open enough to sidestep further questions. "Maybe I'll tell you later. For now, I'd like to enjoy a few moments of quiet. This could be our last bit of calm before we start the hard work." She made her lips curve upward in what she hoped was a sincere-looking smile.

Fernando laughed and looked over his shoulder again. "Did you hear that, Vincent? She says we'd better enjoy the last few moments of calm."

"I agree with her." Vincent took his seat.

Without warning, the passenger pod shuddered. The clamping hooks released them, and the craft began to fall toward the planet.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Hellhole by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson. Copyright © 2011 DreamStar, Inc., and WordFire, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Hellhole 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Gnomicron More than 1 year ago
I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book from one of the authors, Kevin J. Anderson. I was looking forward to exploring a new universe created by him and Mr. Herbert. For the first part of the book, nothing really stood out for me. After a couple of characters discovered the remains of an ancient alien race, the book picked up quite well. The pace moved along well. One chapter would end on a cliffhanger of some sort and in most cases, I couldn't wait until the focus came around on that character again. Some characters were developed better than others, though. I really didn't find myself too interested in the main character, General Adolphus all that much. Hopefully, he'll be more rounded in the next couple of books. Comparisons to Herbert and Anderson's Dune novels and Anderson's own Saga of Seven Suns aside, this is the start of a series that should be enjoyable to all who love science fiction.
shannonpreto More than 1 year ago
I just finished an advance copy of Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. My first statement is that I thoroughly enjoyed it. From start to finish I found it to be "edge of my seat" engrossing. There were many times where one chapter ends on a cliff hanger, and I found that I had to restrict myself to not skip ahead to find out what happens to that one story line. But in slowing down my desire, I was able to appreciate the many different plot elements being attended to and how the separate story lines contributed to the greater narration of the overarching "story." Patience is a virtue in reading and acquiring the details of each character, their relationships amongst the many characters and the development of the culminating denouement. Here's how I know I like a writer, or in this case writers. For me, when I recall not only the plot action, but also the description of the people and places surrounding the activity vividly, that's when I know a writer has touched me as a reader. What is most satisfying occurs at the end of Hellhole is when all the different plots and subplots merge into the same "intersection" (as I'll call it). It is at this intersection that the different threads are clearly tied into one side or the other of book's "conflict." I find this type of cliffhanger to be fresh and inventive. I would recommend this book to both new to KJA/BH readers and veteran readers. I think that Hellhole is a great introduction to the combined writing styles of BH and KJA. I especially encourage "new-to-them" readers, because a new reader might not be put off by the immense and rich backstory that these authors tackled and are tackling with the Dune universe. With Hellhole, a new reader can begin with a fresh story line in an fresh and well fleshed out "universe." I would also recommend the premiere of this new trilogy for fans of BH and KJA as it shows how well their writing styles work together. BH and KJA have worked wonders to create a thrilling and copiously tethered story line that I believe will surely keep my interest for two more books.
Repeat_BandN_Customer More than 1 year ago
This book does not earn the lavish praise that appears on the cover and elsewhere, although it could have. The plot has a clever angle with promise, but the characterization is extremely shallow and cartoon-like. Furthermore the authors frequently display a poor technique in some aspects of story telling: instead of creating and inserting anecdotal situations to reveal character or story details, they write a description or an explanation, put it into parentheses, and just stick it in there. It looks like someone performing a theatrical aside, saying a line to the audience behind the back side of his hand. My reaction in one such instance was, "Don't tell me this, that the General's men are extraordinarily loyal, show me." To me this book read more like a set up for a movie than like a good, solid, science fiction novel. On the bright side, the story has promise for a good epic series if the authors will work their craft more rigorously. They also need to get better support from the people who read the draft because the shortcomings are obvious and should have been fixed before the final.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lot of wasted filler
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the planet, the characters, and the plot. Can't wait for the next two books. I keep checking but don't have a clue as to when they will be published.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Blah. Weak. As bad as the worst Dune sequels.
Cypherbos More than 1 year ago
Loved every page! Fans of Dune must try this! The characters are great and the new worlds are fantastic. Oh and there are even some aliens! :)
harstan More than 1 year ago
From the frontier aptly titled planet Hellhole, exiled rebel General Tiber Adolphus remains adamant with his opposition to the avarice plots of the Crown Jewel worlds and Diadem Michella Duchenet. He and his cohorts know what they must do if they are to overcome the powerful elite, but to achieve it seems out of reach especially from the nightmarish orb they hide on. His side must find a means to end the royal space travel monopoly. Once that is achieved, they can go onto the next step which is to forge an alliance of Deep Zone planets. On Sonjeera far from the Deep Zone frontier planets, Diadem Michella has issues with the ancient noble families. At the same time her preoccupation means she and her advisors fail to notice Adolphus is implementing plans that could shake the royal stranglehold on space travel and beyond that much more. . This outer space science fiction thriller pays homage to Dune with the Hellhole environ, but takes its own overall entertaining spin in spite of none of the key cast breaking out of stereotypical roles. The story line is filled with action although the ending is a disappointment as that resolves nothing except set the stage for the next saga. Still fans of Dune will enjoy this epic offspring space opera. Harriet Klausner
geminitwinTX 7 months ago
Interesting concept. Takes the familiar trope of a bloated, corrupt galactic government vs. the upstart, honorable revolutionaries and adds a spin. Nice start to a new science fiction saga.
BryanThomasS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Hellhole" fits the label epic to a T--with a cast of thousands, multiple storylines, etc. At its heart, it's the story of a General outcast after losing a battle for freedom against a ruthless dictator. Settled with his supporters on a barren planet considered almost uninhabitable, he's managed to make a life there and even some allies. Now he's on the verge of unleashing his great plan: "Destination Day," a new declaration of freedom. As the General, Tiber Adolphus, and his underlings make final preparations, a new set of outcasts arrive to call Halholme, aka Hellhole, their home. When two of them make a startling discovery, events unfold which could change everything.My biggest criticisms with this book are: 1) it unfolds slowly. It took a while to hook me because of the sheer number of characters and storylines which the authors must introduce. The plot really didn't start rolling until midway because of it. 2) Keeping track of the characters was a real headache early on. I wish they'd unfolded them a little less rapidly to allow me time to own them. It would have avoided requiring me to flip back and forth to remind myself who they are at times.However, once the concepts and characters have been introduced, the story gets rolling and it hooks you. There are well drawn characters you will care about with a mission you root for. There's some real inventiveness at work here, with ideas about the aliens and how they preserve their society and about interplanetary travel which I hadn't seen before. Some of the ideas are quite complex but are explained well and simply and easy to grasp. The last half moved at a much quicker pace, and I found I couldn't put it down as I raced to the end. Ironically, I still have to wait as this is only book 1 in a series and the great battle the book sets up won't really start until the next book.I think Herbert and Anderson have left themselves a lot of options. The battle itself could stretch out multiple books and beyond that, they've created a universe with plenty of story possibilities. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot more books coming out in this setting.An enjoyable read with some interesting ideas and good worldbuilding and characterization. If you like space opera, especially big epic stories, this will no doubt satisfy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story with enough sci-fi to make it a fun read. The quest for new world's will not stop the human spirit to want control on every world we set foot on. Hell hole is waiting for us .
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It is well written, has a great plot, and has rich characters.
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Herbert and Anderson have created a believeable universe with equally believeable characters. This series promises to be as good and as readable as their Dune prequel series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A decent story line dragged out to the point of boredom.
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