In Bruno’s debut SF series starter, refugees of a cyborg invasion colonize a distant, exotic world only to find bizarre and terrifying new threats.
In the future, humans on Earth have had to contend with an uprising of cyborgs called the Undriel, who are reminiscent of the Borg of the Star Trek universe. Human survivors in a war spanning the solar system wind up making a final stand on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter. The Undriel overwhelm them, but young mechanic Denton Castus and his family manage to flee just in time by joining tens of thousands of humans in stasis as part of a desperate plan called the Telemachus Project. They take a 300-year flight to a habitable planet called Kamaria, which is “Earth-like, but different from Earth in a lot of ways.” For example, the exotic and potentially dangerous life-forms, from airborne bacteria to a race of technologically advanced, psychic flying humanoids called the Auk’nai, are very different, indeed. In a flashback, a previous Telemachus Project ship lands on Kamaria and its passengers make a tentative accord with the Auk’nai and explore the immediate vicinity, which includes a forbidding, abandoned city. There, a malevolent influence possesses war hero Roelin Raike. The two story threads come together when Denton awakens on Kamaria and integrates into the colonists’ society, where a long-ago incomprehensible crime is a lingering trauma. Before long, Denton also begins to feel the same psychic presence that afflicted Raike. Bruno is a highly imaginative and natural storyteller, conjuring numerous technologies, cultures, and creatures and providing a particularly spectacular ending. SF fans may detect echoes of H.P. Lovecraft’s work, TV’s Babylon Five, the blockbuster film Avatar, and other works; the smoothly polished prose and snappy pace are reminiscent of a no-nonsense master thriller author such as Alistair Maclean. The technology and biology descriptions don’t get in the way of the suspense, and the references to ancient Greek legend sharpen the backstory of Kamaria’s godlike aliens, who do indeed seem mythic. Hall’s illustrations feel like a tribute to the material’s stated origin—a comic book that Bruno created in elementary school.
A solidly entertaining and sometimes enthralling interplanetary yarn.