Silas has lived with his lover Eshan on a remote space station for as long as he can remember. Eshan takes care of Silas' sexual needs, which keeps him happy. But then, one day, the station is boarded by a man hell-bent on finding something he thinks Eshan has. The man kills Eshan and thinks he's killed Silas, but the young man somehow survives and finds himself on a planet occupied primarily by lizard-like refugees. Loc has seen his share of battles, mostly with humans. He lost one eye in one of those fights. He shouldn't give a second thought to the scared young man he spots on the street, but Loc can't quite stop himself from helping the frightened Silas. It might be a case of no good deed going unpunished.
“Violent Horizons” is very much a classic space opera with a lot of well-known science fiction themes in evidence. However, the story feels more than anything like a twisted retelling of Pinocchio. Only, in this case, the "puppet" is a nearly perfect human simulacrum sex bot that doesn't know he's not a real boy at first. The true nature of what Silas is and what he can do becomes a key driver of the story.
We learn fairly early in the story that Silas is an artificial life form and not a real human being, but it takes quite a while for the young man and those around him to figure that out. Even knowing what he is, the character is very sympathetic, especially when he's thrust into a cruel and uncaring situation for which Silas is entirely unprepared. A big part of his charm is that no matter how harrowing the experiences he goes through, nothing seems to keep Silas down for long. Those trials ultimately make him stronger.
Loc is a bit more of a classic damaged hero. He comes across as a hard person, often disappointed by life, yet he still has a soft heart. The connection between Silas and Loc seems inexplicable, but it gets tested many times over the course of the story, and grows stronger rather than breaking.
There are a lot of good themes in this book. In fact, I felt that maybe there was too much going on. A number of secondary characters and groups are introduced that seem significant at first but then don't contribute to the story. We're even repeatedly told that the mysterious “greys” at important, but we never really find out why, and in the end, nothing happens.
I also had a problem with the story's primary villain, Terjas. He kicks everything off by killing Ershan because he thinks the hacker has something he's looking for. It became rather obvious to me that what Terjas was looking for was injected into Silas just before Ershan was killed, yet the supposed “genius” doesn't figure that out until almost the end. Terjas seems to enjoy creating havoc for its own sake, which is standard for cartoon villains but seems a bit too random in fiction.