On my radio interview (rebroadcasting April 21-23) I said what I liked about science fiction was the classic theme of the Western, namely, take some ordinary people, drop them in the middle of nowhere, and hand them an extraordinary problem. With science fiction as opposed to Westerns, that “nowhere” can be a lot of different places.
With Hunger Makes the Wolf, Wells does the Western thing but more literally. Her story is set on Tanegawa’s World, a dry and dusty mining colony, described with a geologist’s eye. (Wells’ day job is as a geologist, and I met Wells at Worldcon.) Hob Ravani, a young woman and orphan, has become a member of the Ghost Wolves, a band of mercenaries / outlaws. Hob also has “witchiness” which in her case manifests itself in the ability to make fire.
This witchiness, we learn, has an unknown but presumably scientific explanation, tied into peculiarities of the planet she’s on. Peculiarities which may have something to do with The Weathermen, the “humans” who enable Transrift, the company with a monopoly on FTL travel, to do what they do. Needless to say, the company is up to no good, and has been for some time.
Wells’ characters are realistic if hard-bitten, and the whole thing left me waiting for the sequel. Highly recommended.