This category is one that I am genuinely in awe of the authors who write in this genre. As a kid, I grew up loving and reading Robert A Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. Since then have always been fascinated by people who have the vision to see the future and more importantly to put it down on paper.
I've read some super Sci/Fi this year, so without further ado here are the nominations for this year's Science Fiction Grunter.
category - science fiction:
Somewhere, in interstellar space, a doomed ship is undergoing its death throes, as mutiny runs rampant throughout the ship. What has caused this crew to kill each other and destroy their ship? When the Skae discover this ghost ship and download the data on it, they uncover the grisly truth. The ship contains the DNA samples and the last remnants of a dying world, a world whose sun has gone Supernova and destroyed its solar system. They do have a chance to save this species, though, if they can clone the surviving DNA and then send them back, in time, to prevent the problems that led to the mutiny aboard Hegira.
Karm is cloned, raised and sent back, in time, to the planet Dyan’ta to put in place the plan to save an entire species, the Brin, from destruction. He must assemble a powerful, financial empire that will give him the wherewithal to be in a position to stop whatever went wrong on Hegira, but he must do it all without revealing to anyone his true mission. He must not disturb the past too greatly or the future could be irreparably altered. With just his beautiful, feisty, “niece” at his side and the brilliant young scientist Dr Jontar Rocker, the trio must bring the technology of the future to bear on the problems facing Dyan’ta, before the inevitable supernova, whilst always fighting off the secular interests of the Monarchy and the spiritual influence of the Church.
Cronin’s work is my kind of Science Fiction – fantastical, without being too highly technical. Yes, the story is set on another planet, it involves time-travel and interstellar voyaging, but at its heart it is still very much an action mystery and a romance. Cronin has avoided being dragged down by scientific jargon and concepts outside the understanding of most readers. This is a good, old-fashioned, action adventure that just happens to be set in outer space. As a read, Hegira flows beautifully, with simple and easily understood language, a minimum of difficult new words to master and a world touchingly similar to our own. The author explores and allows the four main factions in the story to play off each other: The Faith, The King, The Politicians, and The Industrialist. Each group has its own agenda and is seeking ultimate control, but for Karm, he must always stay one step ahead of the rest and predict their actions the whole way through to ensure the success of his mission.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would highly recommend it to any science-fiction, science-fantasy readers, in particular, but to all lovers of a good action/romance, in general. Hegira by Jim Cronin is excellent, with great character development and a rollicking story. As a youngster, growing up, I was addicted to Science Fiction, but one author, in particular, stood out, for me, Robert A. Heinlein. I read every one of Heinlein’s books, because they were first and foremost wonderful stories and didn’t dwell on the technical subjects of space, jargon, and world-building. They were just damn good stories and Hegira by Jim Cronin reminded me of those stories – simple, fun, and a little bit exotic. An excellent book.
In The Becomer by David Michael Miller, we meet X, of indeterminate sex. X is you, X is me, in fact, X is or can be everyone. In this Science Fiction fantasy world, Miller examines where today’s technology could be leading us. Forget gene manipulation, in The Becomer, X is able to absorb not just your genes, but your memories, your thoughts and your dreams also. X can become you, just by giving you a hug. It’s more than that though, as once X has absorbed the essence that is you, it stays with him/her/it forever. When he hugs the next person, that person’s essence transfers also to him until ultimately, X will become everyone. The possibilities created by this new technology seem endless and eventually, the individual will cease to exist.
This is a short story, but in just these few pages of the Becomer, Miller questions everything we’ve ever known about individuality and consciousness. We meet X as an infant and follow his life through until he becomes the multiplicity of personalities that he will end up having. The author cleverly changes his style through the narrative as we progress through X’s life from infant, to boy, to teenager and finally to man/woman or it. The language and sentence structure early on is simple, almost childlike and grows in complexity as X himself grows in complexity. A fascinating technique employed by the author. Miller effectively challenges everything we may think we know about identity, self-awareness, interconnection, and isolation. This is a stunning short story/novella that makes the reader really sit up, take notice and ask questions about what the perception of reality and life. Brilliant, if a little short.
Recusant is the second book in the Brin Archives series by Jim Cronin and having enjoyed the first in the series, so much, I was extra keen to discover what had become of our heroes in this new land. The first question I always ask when reading the second book in a series is: Does it stand alone? Would it matter if the books were read out of sequence? The answer to that is no. In fantasy/sci-fi novels it often does, as the worlds created by the author are introduced and explained in much more detail, along with the main characters, in the first novel of a series. Cronin, though, has done an excellent job of giving the reader a broad understanding. I would still recommend one read Hegira, before Recusant, but only because it is such a good tale and one worth following from one book to another. The world of the Brin’s and the characters that inhabit it are, thankfully, not too wild and weird for this reader to get his head around. Any reader should quickly be able to place the characters and their ancestors in the correct boxes in their minds. This is always the sign an author has achieved what he/she set out to do, without having to rehash book one again, before starting book two. This is a good job by author Cronin.
In Recusant we find the Brin thriving on their new world that they share with the humans. The original “saviours”, as they were known are long gone, but Malache Rocker, a direct descendant of the originals, uncovers a dark secret that threatens to tear their new society to pieces. In order to expose this evil, Rocker must take on those in power, including members of his own family. Unless he is successful, thousands of innocent people will die from the cruelty of the Brin species.
Although ultimately a fantasy/sci-fi novel, it does, like all good novels, explore the human dilemmas and condition and it does this very well. The interactions between the two species (Brin's and Humans) are the very staple of this story and remind us of those great moral questions we still face today. The spectres of racism, prejudice, prejudgment, greed, the greater good, service, and of course, love are all explored in this fantastic story. Recusant, like Hegira, is a great adventure story that allows us to discover new worlds and different civilisations. The reassurance is in the knowledge that the problems faced by humanity may be more universal than we think. Recusant is a sweet story in places and I really did enjoy the book, which is outside of my usual reading genre.
As a series, the Brin Archives, is a very readable, series for Science Fiction aficionados who don’t want to deal too deeply with the technical aspects of the future, time travel, or interstellar travel, but just fancy a good, rollicking adventure tale, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. I said after reading Hegira, that Cronin’s work reminded me of the early Robert A Heinlein books that I enjoyed so much as a teenager. Recusant has done nothing to change that opinion. I think Jim Cronin is a bright, talented, author, with a wide human experience to share, through the vehicle and genre of Science Fiction. I can’t recommend this Series: Hegira and Recusant, enough. I look forward to future offerings from Cronin.
...and the winner is!
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CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME