Schofield launches his epic saga with unabashed gusto, creating a story that’s part pulp space fiction and part Philip K. Dick.
The novel opens like an exciting Star Trek episode—spaceships fire pulse canons and hyper lasers, shields buckle in fierce combat and cloaking devices conceal narrow escapes. It’s 2540, nearly half a millennium after the catastrophic collapse of Earth’s environment caused a genetic mutation. Men are sterile, sperm banks are running dry and mankind is fighting to survive. Humanity’s only hope is to travel back in time to replenish the population with fertile males. And that hope rests with the New Victorian Empire run by a supercomputer and protected by an elite corps of women known as Guardians. Our heroes are Star-Cmdr. Abigail VanDevere and Lt. Janet Rogerton. Their mission is to track down and stop rebel Galen Bestmarke, who has seduced brilliant scientist Louis Franelli into exploiting time travel through a “Keyhole” in space. The glitch is that Galen wants to go back in time for a nefarious purpose: to hunt animals and humans and collect head “trophies.” Among the targets are present-day game hunter Martin Charles Bucklann and his father. Although freed from NVE imprisonment by Galen, Franelli is more interested in his research than helping either side. Besides time travel, the good scientist has developed (in a nod to Philip K. Dick) a “mind meld” between cats and humans. This symbiotic relationship allows two such minds to control a spaceship’s weapons and tactics with more speed and efficiency than any human. There are budding romances and subplots but very few surprises. Most of the dialogue is adept, and the story is uniformly optimistic, espousing an egalitarian viewpoint. The characters are adequately drawn but come with thin back stories. One is left to wonder what all the males are doing in the NVE. Perhaps we’ll find out in the second installment of the series. Still, it’s a satisfying page turner that treats the reader to a future filled with conflict, hope and an upbeat teaser of a conclusion.
Ideal for young-adult readers who enjoy strong female heroes, kindness to animals, a respect for nature and a bit of romance.