For years, the standard fictional template for a future Earth has been fixed: a downtrodden society ruled by a totalitarian government; a cold, metallic and sterile landscape, featuring humanoid robots; and a spunky group of downtrodden rebels who battle incredible odds in an attempt to thwart the evil state. They’re all on display in this first book in the author’s Lionheart Adventures series. Two young men, James Mustang and Matthew J. Lionheart, come into possession of a time machine that takes them from the present day to the year 2499. Once there, they find that Earth is running out of water, and the authoritarian world government is planning to invade Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, to get more. The two team up with a Martian named Mia and her rebel alliance as part of a plan to retrieve the time machine and return home. However, the rebels may have their own secret agenda. Shunk offers a briskly paced novel, with a plot that takes few detours. Its intriguing, well-defined cast of characters keeps the book humming along. The story also contains a strong undercurrent of spirituality, as Lionheart wonders why he’s wandered away from his faith in a future world that’s rejected God. The novel’s main flaw is that it contains nothing new. Readers have seen this all before: the evil, all-controlling government; the spaceship fights against huge odds (with shields failing); and the plucky, never-say-die rebels. As the first in a series, the story doesn’t conclude as much as it simply lurches to a stop, ending with an awkward religious sequence.
A fast-paced tale, but one that merely recycles elements from sci-fi’s past.