Backworlds (Backworlds Book 1)
Being offered up for free on Smashwords, Backworlds was a no brainer and was the book that triggered my fandom of author M. Pax in general and her Backworlds Series more specifically.
Craze has had a rough life with a family who would make Judas Iscariot look like a Saint among the Heavenly Host. This launches craze on a journey through the stars into the company of some unscrupulously avaricious people who just suit Craze's temperament right to the ground. That is, if he find any on which to land on his feet.
The Backworlds universe sees a humanity spread far and wide among numerous outer planets, massively and genetically modified to cope with a whole range of environments. Into this mix, the very earthy and real Craze gets thrust with all of his attitude and beef with his family.
While the ebook is not hugely long, it reads fast and has enough mystery to it that it gets the reader invested and hooked into the universe and the people themselves. While Craze may be a bit of a scoundrel at times, he is also a complex character with enough to surprise the reader, even though one sees it coming. There was enough in the story to keep this reviewer hooked for the next 5 installments in Craze's story.
Getting a free ebook is always a bonus, but that is even sweeter when the writing and concept is as good and original as Backworlds. This has been one of my best finds of the last few years and, even after years, remains at the top of my favourite science fiction reads.