The Science Fiction genre is overflowing with unusual stories… almost to the point of saturation. So much attention is focused on space battles and the strange, weird aliens, that the possibilities of invention inside a more familiar territory are often overlooked. But this one is different.
Not since Jules Verne, can I recall such a creative approach to speculative science. The adventure takes us to another planet, sure… but the depths we explore are far more intriguing. This underwater military expedition delivers impressive cleverness page after page.
The world building and innovative technology of this book are fascinating. From the specific details of the alien races, and their formidable strengths and equally worrisome weaknesses, to the training exercises which are psychological as much as physical, the weapons detail, and transportation used to explore and fight in this environment is simply fun. Made more believable by the real-life experience Ms. Ash holds in environmental science, everything, right down to the unusual food, is assumed real. Why wouldn’t it be? This author allows us to experience the story through strong sensorial and memory triggers. Even the “new” pieces feel somehow familiar.
Added to this unique storytelling style are two powerful women as main characters. They don’t just dominate because they are “strong” women. They shine with equal brightness to their male counterparts. It was refreshing to read character development that wasn’t lopsided in psychological and physical traits. There are no weak characters in this story. Each is given ample time to grow into their roles, while still being emotionally vulnerable, intellectually evolved, and physically believable. The focus is on the morality of the situation, rather than which gender excels at that objective more effectively. A few characters are more repugnant than others – as it should be – but none is trapped in gender expectation. That alone, is a fantastic reason to read this book.
This is the first in a series of four books, and I am anticipating with delight where the next adventure will lead.
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