7th Sigma, the latest novel by Jumper author Steven Gould, is an exhilarating mash-up of Western and Sci-Fi. The story takes place in a near-future New Mexico and invokes the romance of the American Southwest. The region has been infested by tiny robotic insects who thrive on metal. They are not specifically hostile to humans but will not hesitate to burrow straight through people in order to get to the other side.
The result is a futuristic frontier setting (nothing like Firefly) with a unique set of issues to be solved. The people remaining in the Southwest are forced to avoid all metal to survive. The settlers struggle to survive in a hostile environment with little understanding from the outside world. The resulting society is as harsh and tight-knit as one would expect in the Wild West.
Our hero, Kimble, was born in the territory and has never experienced life any other way. The story opens with this young runaway on his own trying to survive in the future frontier. The troubled young man is taken in by a dojo where he improves his aikido and tries to grasp the concepts of Zen. Kimble takes a hard look at what family means to him on a backdrop of fast-moving spy plot as he volunteers to help the Territorial Army.
7th Sigma includes a heart-racing combination of hero worship, future tech, old fashioned western setting, hand-to-hand combat and nano-tech.
Based on Rudyard Kipling's Kim, this is both an adventure and a coming-of-age story which can hold its own against the classics. I highly recommend this book as a fun and thoughtful adventure novel for all ages.