Author: Arshad Ahsanuddin
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Unknown (Let me know if you know!)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 03/10/2014
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Bisexual, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Science Fiction
What if you could change history?
What if someone else already had?
Grounded after a rescue attempt in Earth orbit goes bad, Commander Martin Atkins of the Confederation Navy is approached by the Interscission Project, a consortium of civilian corporations on the verge of perfecting the technology to travel to another star. Despite his misgivings, the chance to get back in the pilot’s seat is too much to pass up, and he convinces his best friend and crewmate, Charles Davenport, to leave the military temporarily and join him as part of the crew of the Zenith, humanity’s first starship.
Edward Harlen is a brilliant young engineer, and a key player in the construction of the Zenith to take advantage of the untested technology of foldspace drive. But Edward has his own agenda in joining the project, and a bitterly personal score to settle with his boss, Trevor Sutton, a vendetta of which Trevor is entirely ignorant. When Edward’s sister Stella enters the picture and manages to secure a position on the project, all of Edward’s careful plotting is upset, and she might spell the downfall not only of his plans for revenge, but of the entire Zenith mission.
The spark of attraction between Edward and Martin is a complication that Edward can’t afford, but of which he can’t let go. For Edward knows the secret at the heart of the Interscission Project, the hidden potential of the technology that in the wrong hands could become the ultimate assassin’s weapon: the ability to rewrite history, not just once, but many times. As an unseen enemy moves to destroy them, and the body count multiplies in their wake, Martin and Edward must choose whether they will allow the possibility of love to challenge their destinies, or will they instead take up arms in a war to control the most ancient and terrible power in the universe.
Ok, ok, ok, this book, this story, thisssssss is the kind of science fiction that gives the genre its name in every sense, PLUS characters drawn to levels of complexity that get me excited. Excited. Add in authentically surprising twists and we have a genuine trifecta of reading experience awesomeness.
“The word means ‘to cut between’ or ‘subdivide’. In this context, it refers to the creation of a localized gravitic distortion sufficient to pierce two manifolds of space-time and for a temporary bridge between them, allowing instantaneous travel between two widely separated locations in the universe.”
Y’all, we’re talkin’ time travel, bending time and space, and multiple timelines of existence, along with the impact they have on all of these characters and their relationships. I know, I know, the passage above and these ingredients might make this read feel daunting, yeah? Difficult to keep straight and make sense of it all. But see, Ahsanuddin’s prose is brilliantly down to earth and places everything in context, making the science as gleefully enjoyable as the fiction. It feels easy going, smooth, lending accessibility to the more technical language. The complexity of the characters is a thrilling companion to everything that surrounds and confounds them, attempting to complicate their lives.
Well, ok, most of them do a pretty good job of that all on their own.
The plotting and the characterizations, the way everything unfolds in this story from the first page and all through the entire book, had me feeling things like enthralled, surprised, connected, wanting to shout from the rooftops about how freakin’ fantabulous this all is, except I would have had to stop reading to do that. Wudn’t gonna happen! By the end of chapter one, the level of my curiosity was high, both about the project and these people involved in it, or trying to stop it, or thinking they knew what was going on and what their plan was, only to find out neither was the case. Goodness, this is a well-crafted yarn.
The two officers stared at each other, neither making any effort to leave or even to turn away. The frozen tableau held for almost a full minute, perfectly still, the walls echoing soundlessly with indescribable grief.
Possibly my favorite passage. I remember pausing after reading it, just letting it sit there.
Martin is a bit of a maverick (more than a bit), intelligent, a tough and talented captain, and carrying around some feelings that might never be reciprocated. He doesn’t sit around waiting or necessarily drowning in sorrow or self-pity, but there is a constant companion of resigned sadness. His sarcasm and zest for adventure don’t necessarily hide this fact but they make up for some of it.
Charles is a chief engineer, fellow crewman to Martin, who is also his closest friend. It’s a two-way street, this deeply held kinship. The quiet scenes between them are some of the most emotional in this story. Yes, that’s right, truth in emotion in a science fiction novel. It can be done (Star Wars, anyone? Why do you think it was so successful. Part of the reason was the characters and how much we all fell in love with them, and their imperfections, no matter how frustrating – we loved them even more for that.) and it’s done here confident consistency and care. Yes, that’s it: it’s so easy to feel how much Ahsanuddin cares about these people. It comes through in waves. Respite is but a temporary thing in this book.
One of my favorite things about any great story is when I waver back and forth about a character, or more, and whether they’re a villain or not. If they are, why? What motivates them? If not, why do they appear to be so? Or am I just assuming they are given my knowledge of them in this moment? All of these questions, they also tell you this story will make you think, which is another favorite of mine. I want the storyteller to make me work for my experiences while reading. I don’t want to be spoon-fed. No worries about that happening here.
Every character, great and small in terms of page time, demonstrates their importance. None feel superfluous or simply around to serve as a cheap plot device or foil. When a supporting character gets my mind to wandering, wondering what the rest of their life looks like, what all I don’t know about them, that’s a big time bonus in my book. I mean, what’s up with Henry, why is he like he is? What is really going on with Edward, and his sister? I think there’s more to Dr Wu, there has to be and I hope to find out. And what about Jake, Martin’s brother? And Knox? I want to experience their stories, too.
Reading this story is a fully engaging experience. I was guessing, enjoying the mere act of guessing about what might happen next. Humor, friendship, familial connections, loss, pain, revenge – both successful and aborted – and love in multiple forms are alive and working their brands of magic up in this joint.
The dialogue is natural and constantly works to build on the knowledge we’ve gained up to that point. Or to confuse and cause doubt. I love that.
She glared at him. “Correct. Quite beyond the ability of the average human mind to encompass unassisted.” Her tone made it obvious whose mind she was referring to.
[internal 1st POV] No escape this time. Interruptions at this point only tended to prolong the agony. And God help me if I ask for clarification. Smiling and nodding sometimes helped speed things along, but not always.
Not for the first time, Martin wished he could sleep with his eyes open. He settled in, resigned to riding out the rest of the monologue. “You were saying?”
As you can see, I have so much I want to share about this story and these characters. I’ve already gone on… and on, but I cannae help it, not when stuff is this good at feeding my soul. Effective, nitty gritty human emotion, and the bending of space and time: YES.
As soon as I finished this, I started book two, “Azimuth”. I plan on reviewing that, too. I’ve already started reading, stay tuned… 😉
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|