This is one of the best books of any genre I have read for some time. Idyll is very much at the intelligent end of speculative science fiction. The technologies, once you start to understand them, may seem thin on scientific logic, but the philosophical speculation behind the storytelling process is extremely stimulating. How unique Derry's vision is I couldn't possibly say, as there is just so much brilliant and diverse science fiction out there now that the publishing walls have tumbled, but what I can say is that Derry is a good writer and an even better storyteller. There are certainly a host of books that cross the divide between the 'Western' and Scifi, in fact a huge sway of modern SF and Sci-fi books and films owe much of there appeal to 'Space Western' themes but Derry's creation reads as very original to me. I don't think, oh yes, this author has borrowed from Orson Scott Card, Michael Crichton or Alice Mary Norton; not a bit of it. Rather I think that Derry has absorbed a great deal of visionary depth from such writers, remodelled it brilliantly, and is himself adding must read copy to future SF authors.
Apart from one particular continuity jump as the book started to build to completion which I felt needed a bit of smoothing, the plot line read very well. The interactions between the characters were truly fascinating. They would have worked in any genre setting. The book seems to have been finished with a sequel already well plotted. I hope that one soon emerges. Every now and again, at least for a while, one's favourite book becomes the one just finished. Derry has given me my recent favourite.