By Arwen Elys Dayton
|Value for money||7/10|
|Did it do what it said on the box?||7/10|
A new science fiction tale which bears comparison with the old masters
This is the first “hard” science fiction book I’ve read in several years which I’ve really enjoyed. It’s full of intriguing ideas, clever plot twists and a central story which cracks along at a good pace. At just over 400 pages it’s a very satisfying length, avoiding the modern tendency to pad novels unnecessarily, and I read it in one day, hardly able to put it down.
At the core is the old idea that the achievements of the ancient Egyptian 4th Dynasty were created by and for visiting aliens, and that much of Egyptian mythology stems from that encounter. However, unlike the disappointing, distorted and disingenuous pseudo-science of Erich von Däniken and Graham Hancock this book just sets out to spin a great yarn, and succeeds admirably.
The author paints on a grand canvas, covering three worlds and five millennia, but keeps the story at a human level, by focusing on a number of well-developed central characters: be they good, evil or simply misguided. While throughout the book historical and current stories proceed in parallel, a believable contextual and technical explanation is developed for their linkage.
The science is clever, focusing mainly on the achievements of one of the races who have developed technology several hundred years beyond ours, but based almost entirely on organic solutions. Interstellar travel is handled realistically, with sub-light journeys based on long periods of hibernation, and the quest to recover a lost faster-than-light solution a key part of the plot. However, at no time does the science dominate or become superfluous to the plot.
I had a few minor niggles: The cover notes don’t do the story justice, and won’t help sales. The character, race and place names are arguably too Americanised and insufficiently “alien”. Also my pre-release copy of the book contained a number of odd spelling errors, which suggested that it had been typed without the benefit of a spell checker. However, these are very minor complaints about a very good book.
I enjoyed this thoroughly, and it’s restored my faith that it is still possible to write new science fiction work which bears inspection against the old masters. Highly recommended.