John L. Lynch is the author of New Persia and Endemic. He was a sailor in the US Navy and a soldier in the US Army National Guard. In the Navy, John was a CTR, a “Spook,” and specialized in radio interception. He was stationed on Adak island in the Aleutian chain and on Okinawa. After the military, John earned a BA in Political Science from Fort Lewis College. Bringing his military experience to his writing is a natural fit for his books, which are about exceptional people in exceptional circumstances. Featuring soldiers in science fiction settings, John L. Lynch weaves together what is timeless about human nature with what is possible in the future. John L. Lynch can be found on the internet at johnllynch.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/lynchjohnl and on Twitter @CroLynch. His Kirkus page with reviews of his books is found here at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/author/john-l-lynch/.
“A sci-fi adventure with plenty of action and character intrigue.”
– Kirkus Reviews
In this novel, a covert team investigates an unexplained outbreak of a deadly virus in Africa.
A secret organization strives to protect the people of Earth from things “that are not supposed to exist,” such as aliens. This outfit recruits Hugo Valentine, who leads a team of operators that is currently in Africa on an undercover mission. The other members include French physician Thelmia; Cid, a cyborg armed with alien technology; and Chuck, whose biological modification provides him with unparalleled speed. But soon they welcome a new associate, Rajiv, a scientist from the Research division who has details on their latest assignment. Over in Congo is an outbreak of what Research believes is the Marburg virus, although it may be Ebola. Posing as a World Health Organization team, Hugo and the others head to the community of Watsa to investigate the hemorrhagic virus. Once there, they don hazmat suits to examine the specific village where the epidemic apparently originated. Surprisingly, they discover mutilated bodies of people who appear to have died violently and not necessarily from the disease. This soon precipitates the additional threat of cannibals in the area. Although the team is combat-trained, taking care of a group of cannibalistic killers coupled with stopping the spread of the virus may be too much for the band to handle. But finally identifying the real enemy leads the team to the pathogen’s shocking genesis while a hefty gunfight culminates in missing colleagues. Lynch’s (New Persia, 2018) action-laden sci-fi tale certainly delivers the goods. As part of the clandestine organization, team members undergo three “Phases” of rigorous training, and Chuck isn’t the only biologically modified one in the band. There are copious particulars on the group’s weapons, along with countless flying bullets and the occasional explosion. But the author also excels at describing suspenseful scenes, such as the team stealthily tracking killers in the jungle. Thelmia, for example, slowly and carefully sets up an explosive while “Chuck partially unsheathed his throwing knife, and Rajiv screwed a suppressor onto his PDW” (a submachine gun). Moreover, Lynch incorporates into his novel a subtle theme of science versus religion. Hugo, a practitioner of voudoun, represents the latter, and his invocation of spirits can trigger an apparent trance or even a seizure. This worries Thelmia, who views his episodes as a doctor and believes Hugo not reporting them (presumably to the organization) puts the whole team in danger. Readers learn only fragments of information regarding the organization and the training it provides as well as the alien encounter that ultimately led to Cid’s new plastic-skinned body. Other characters are likewise mysterious, as their backstories are largely unknown. This nevertheless has a benefit: The narrative, minus extended exposition or flashbacks, rarely slows down. This book is furthermore the first installment of a series, and follow-ups will surely attract readers hoping to learn more about these skilled, enigmatic players.
A sci-fi adventure with plenty of action and character intrigue.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc.
Review Posted Online: May 9, 2019
On a planet settled by colonists from Earth’s Muslim cultures (whose true history has receded into myth), young soldiers in “New Persia” find their incipient romances—and lives—jeopardized by impending war.
Lynch (Endemic, 2018) isn’t alone in imagining Islam, or something very much akin to it, flourishing in deep space; Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965) should come to mind straightaway. But Lynch’s vision centers more on the rigid codes and intrigues of conservative Bahá'í culture rather than monster sandworms. In ancient times, a distant planet with a twin-star system was settled principally by colonists/refugees from Earth’s Muslim peoples (the true history of those spacefaring days has receded into near myth). A thousand years after the early, arduous days of establishing a human foothold, the planet’s single continent hosts technology, folkways, and politics approximating those of the mid-20th-century Middle East (minus Israel). Imperial ambitions and religious divisions have arisen between the colonists’ descendants—who have established an Iranian New Persia and a Bantu-speaking North African/Arab nation of Azania—resulting in a series of wars. Talky opening chapters set the stage at a New Persian royal ball, with humble-born Capt. Basir Turani and his cousin, fighter pilot Farad Hashemi, becoming entangled in budding romances complicated by strict laws governing conduct. Basir catches the fascination of rebellious aristocrat Suri Pahlavi, who chafes at her restricted existence (one character notes: “Persian women were taught to fear men from an early age. Everything about their society was designed to protect women. Everything betrayed a deep anxiety about what would happen if men and women were free to meet”). Farad is attracted to Nasrin Avesta, from a family still tainted by association with an attempted coup against the monarchy. After that, however, the formal narrative transitions from Tolstoy to Tom Clancy. Basir and Farad head for their assignment—a border city that immediately becomes a key battleground in the latest Azanian attack. In Lynch’s novel, tank, air and ground skirmishes are crisply described while the background threat of a seasonal alien natural disaster, a fiery biochemical “seed storm,” supplies what often comes across as a token sci-fi quotient. Alternative-history fans are the ideal readership. Many readers may also appreciate (especially in the post–9/11 era) Lynch’s sympathetic portrayal of Islamic values and mores in a nuanced, layered world. In fact, we are told, the imperiled border town of Kerman predates most of New Persia and operates by its own liberal and progressive rules, and even Persepolis, the capital, tolerates Christians and nonbelievers. But adherence to dictates of the faith loom large in almost every affair, although the author is not one to criticize shortcomings of theocracy here. While principal plot threads are tied up at the end, it’s clear (even without the subtitle) this is just the promising beginning of a larger “New Persia” saga.
A respectful, Islamophobia-free take on Muslim thought and culture in a sci-fi setting that also delivers shock-and-awe combat action.
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc.
Review Posted Online: May 17, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019
In this sequel, the citizens of New Persia—on a distant planet—face an invasion by a rival nation as a natural disaster approaches.
The author follows up his New Persia: Before the Storm (2018) with a military-SF actioner whose technology is more retro-20th century than futuristic. That’s because the setting is a twin-sunned planet, circa the 34th century, settled by refugees from Earth, deep-space colonists overwhelmingly of Muslim/Baha’i background trying to recover from a harsh beginning and setbacks costing generations of progress. Territorial conflict now simmers continuously, chiefly between the Farsi (Iranian) kingdom of New Persia and the adjacent Azania, established by people of primarily North African descent (speaking Bantu and Swahili). The previous volume set the stage for the latest outbreak of hostilities launched by the Azanians against the Persians—whose own empire was slipping into petty internal power struggles. This installment offers little exposition in favor of mostly nonstop battlefield action, on land, sea, and air, as New Persia warriors engage the enemy’s armored divisions, navy fleet, and flying corps. Early defeats put the mighty Persian capital, Persepolis, at risk. Two characters crucial to the city’s defense are Suri Pahlavi and Nasrin Avesta, young women discontent with their devalued status in the conservative, male-dominated Islamic society. Suddenly granted official rank in a hastily concocted female auxiliary, the Bar Basiji, the pair far exceed the expectations of chauvinistic men when ground combat hits. Meanwhile, a background threat looms against both warring nations: a “seed storm,” a periodic calamity occurring in this alien ecosystem, when ubiquitous native plant life starts a chemical cycle of fiery holocausts Genre readers hoping for fanciful mega-weaponry may have to dial back expectations; indeed, some of the technical details impinge on steampunk. A surprise advance sprung by the Azanians turns out to involve the helicopter. And cyberfans may get a frisson when they discover that Bar Basiji’s principal function is to tend the wheels and gears of a Charles Babbage/Alan Turing proto-computer. Lynch (Endemic, 2018, etc.) only drops hints about the backstory of his compelling, imaginary world, but he does mention that—in its millennia or so of human habitation—the spacefaring civilization here rose and fell to ruin more than once, climbing its way upward repeatedly from dark ages featuring seed storms and entrenched belligerence. On that note, the only Azanian character of consequence, a tank commander named Aran, turns out to be an ethical soldier (and a Christian disciple, at least in part), initiating a cease-fire to evacuate vulnerable civilians. Persians themselves do not savor causing casualties or terror, declaring it is God’s will whether or not an enemy survives. Genocide and atrocities are not driving forces in what is, for contemporary readers, a throwback to a more chivalrous theater of war than this genre typically evokes. Some readers may notice that a whole planet of displaced Middle Eastern societies, untroubled by such factors as Israel, America, or Russia, nonetheless winds up just as crisis-torn and bomb-cratered as the present Persian Gulf. But if the author intends religious or political critiques, they are safely locked in the armory during this installment of the saga. The theme of female courage and resourcefulness under fire does come through loud and clear.
Hard-combat SF that delivers thoughtful alternative history speculation rather than ray gun stuff.
Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020
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