A subtle spiritual allegory cloaked in the guise of a sci-fi thriller.
In the year 2250, Maj. Frank Rawdon is a special agent for the United States Space Command Intelligence Service on a top-secret mission to investigate allegations that Germany is committing Solar Exodus Treaty violations. These laws essentially require all governments and corporations to make public any research into the advancement of space travel. Rawdon, a virtually unstoppable combat expert, has a penchant for finding trouble, and after he’s arrested for murder on Venus, he escapes in the hold of a spaceship full of hundreds of massive, extended stasis carriers. They contain Turgor soldiers—giant, bioengineered human killing machines that have been classified as weapons by the United States military. Rawdon wonders where these soldiers are being sent, and why, so he stows away inside the ship until it reaches Mercury, a planet that supposedly hasn’t been visited by anyone in seven years. Once there, he discovers a technological conspiracy of the highest order, but that’s just the beginning of the mind-blowing revelations: He also finds out about humankind’s military partnership with a tree-trunk–like alien race known as the Arbortruncae, who are involved in an intensifying conflict. The more Rawdon, a nonbeliever who doesn’t put stock in any afterlife (“There’s just one big dirt nap when we’re all done, and that’s it”), learns about the universe and its sentient beings, the more he questions his own beliefs. He soon realizes that he has no idea whether humankind’s actions are heroic or the vilest kind of evil. This is an impressive debut novel that effectively fuses the hard-core sci-fi and military-thriller genres. Although most of the human characters are relatively two-dimensional, the author savvily incorporates an abundance of intriguing ideas into the storyline to make up for it; for example, a key element of the tale involves a means of almost-instantaneous space travel—one that essentially breaks space. The complex back story of the aliens’ conflict, meanwhile, involves one race’s “search for a gateway to God” and mythology that strangely parallels biblical myths involving Nephilim and spiritual transcendence. The resulting themes, both science- and faith-based, make the novel a powerful and undeniably thought-provoking read. At the same time, it provides edge-of-your-seat, action-packed thrills throughout.
An original, surprising novel for mainstream sci-fi fans.