Feb 25, 2014

[Books] Have Wormhole, Will Travel

I primarily signed up for NetGalley since the Angry Robot Army review program of Angry Robot Books decided to move to that particular platform. And while I continue to enjoy the review titles offered by Angry Robot Books, I've also started to explore the site's other publishers and their respective books for review.

I can't precisely remember how I encountered Have Workhole, Will Travel. I guess it was in one of those regular update emails that NetGalley sends out to subscribers or something like that. But hey, wormhole theory is one of my more preferred means of interstellar travel in terms of science fiction books, so it wasn't too hard an idea to jump on board this particular ship, so to speak.

The book was surprisingly well-written given it's pretty much an indie title. This is not to belittle the majority of indie works out there - as an aspiring writer myself, my own insecurities are naturally factor of sorts in terms of how I view this part of the publishing world. And while I haven't found too many of the great ones so far, this one is definitely more impressive than a lot of the others that I've encountered.


Synopsis: Have Wormhole, Will Travel is a science fiction novel written by Tony McFadden. It was made available on Smashwords last October.

The book follows around two aliens - Callum and Jacob - as they continue to observe humanity's technological developments. They're currently assigned in Sydney, Australia where they've been keeping tabs on the Physics department of Sydney University. Their mission is simple enough - once it is determined that humanity has developed technology that will allow them to travel to the alien's homeworld, they are to return, report their findings and await the destruction of Earth.

But Callum has become increasingly attached to Earth after living their for over 400 years. And it's becoming harder and harder for him to imagine returning to their home planet. And things are about to take a turn for the worse given a local scientist has actually been able to master m-theory and has managed small yet stable wormholes used to transport tiny objects across the room. At the same time, a local group of vampire enthusiasts are convinced that Callum and Jacob are clear examples of vampires living among them, and they're out to prove just how this is the case.

The core premise of the book is a pretty interesting one - the fact that an alien race might actually go as far as to contemplate genocide of other species in an effort to protect themselves. It's not quite full on xenophobia since they clearly could have terminated humanity and other races for some time now. But instead they've developed this complex observation process which allows them to feel some degree of solace that they only kill those races that post a real and imminent threat to them. It all just depends on how you define what constitutes a threat to you, I suppose.

The author clearly put a lot of effort into recreating Sydney for us. I've never been there and a lot of the names could have been Greek to me, but the way in which he built the setting and described the actions of the various characters went a long way to making the whole thing seem a lot more real. The fact that we even covered various ferry rides and such to get to and from various locations was an interesting highlight. And nothing all that meaningful happens on these trips - they're just distinct markers of what the characters need to do to get around.

The mix of a vampire fangirl group and the aliens trying to dismiss their delusions was a light comedic thread woven into the entire narrative to great effect. It was pretty fun how they rationalized a lot of their findings with Bram Stoker's Dracula as a primary reference piece. The fact that Callum and Jacob had actually spent time with the author all those years back made things all the more humorous.

But the book isn't a laugh-out-loud kind of comedy piece. If anything, it felt like a pretty decent science fiction adventure piece, but this time told from the perspective of the aliens. It would have been easy enough to follow around the humans and treat the aliens as some sort of antagonists, but McFadden made the wise choice to go the alien route. It certainly shifted the tone in a great way that we don't often see in similar books.

Then there's the science behind the book. The general theory around wormholes is pretty common in science fiction at this point, and the author still makes sure to outline the basic points for his readers. But beyond that, we sort of just have to trust that things are going to work, and that's actually more than enough for the book. It's enough to give the book some weight of authenticity without going totally nerdy to the point of turning off potential readers. The book is a delight to read.

Have Wormhole, Will Travel was a lot more fun than I expected and I found it to be a great novel overall. It's a nice piece of science fiction with a distinct voice that certainly helps the genre as a whole. Thus the book rates 5 examples of the aliens interfering with our technological development out of a possible 5.


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2 comments:

Dave said...

Starlin has one great thing in common with Kirby, they both rather sucked at being writers.After buying all these issues,I then re read them in one sitting,and put them in my sell box along with his the end series.
Sometimes, at the very least, a strong editor is needed,that will say to the writer/artist,that at the least,a page ot three in their work,HAS to be re written/re drawn.The page where the ultra powerful thanos clone takes warlock down,then just a few panels later,hes back in action,is really lame.The only good thing that came out of this,was that the thanos from thor 25 was later passed off as just another clone.

Dave said...

art wise, I was rather disapointed with this issue.The pages where Starlin used the same faces several times on one page was really lazy.Story wise,it really had no great impact on the marvel u since.The dead keep returning and always will.its the marvel u.More proof that Starlins best days are long behind him, and Im sad to say that.

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