All politics are local, even when entities are separated by millions of light-years, a point driven home by Seidler’s debut novel, a galaxy-spanning space opera where most of the action is planetbound and the strong central hero no longer knows who he is.
After a prologue centered in the distant past, the novel introduces readers to Dustin Atropos, former Army Ranger, whose camping trip in the Colorado mountains goes slightly awry when a substantial chunk of the wilderness he’s camping in is accidentally transported four million light-years away. Confused by the transit and grievously injured by a Trexor—a massive, intelligent bundle of spines, fangs and talons; think a Kzinti times two with mystical abilities—Dustin is rescued by an Elorian, a member of a tremendously advanced race. Given an Elorian body, fantastic technology and abilities he cannot comprehend, Dustin is told he is a last-ditch attempt to avoid massive destruction of the race that engineered the transfer, the Charcans. However, the more Dustin trains with a friendly Trexor and understands the true position he’s in, the more he realizes the future of several races, including humanity, depend on his decisions and his ever-growing abilities. To further complicate matters, Dustin’s training and transformations have split his allegiances, and he no longer knows if he’s human, Trexor, Elorian, all or none of the above. Despite the wide-ranging scope of the book, Seidler keeps the focus on his central characters and clearly establishes their voices and motivations, keeping his expanding cast manageable and defined throughout the story. Although the dialogue and narrative description are overwritten in places, the overall language is clear and creates a rhythm that propels the story forward.
A strong plot and a sure sense of direction overcome the rough spots, making Seidler’s debut an enjoyable read.