Pages - Menu


Friday, March 14, 2014

Pin It


Book Review: Damocles

I have a confession to make... I am suspicious of bargain books. Boo all you want you bargain book bin divers, but I've been a firm believer in the idea that it's on sale for a reason. So when Amazon emailed me and said, "Yo! You bought a book! That's awesome! Because you bought one, here's some books you can get for 99 cents!" *not an actual Amazon quote* I was skeptical. I thought, "Amazon can't be practically giving away good books, can they?" Despite my apprehension I picked out Damocles by R.G. Redling and downloaded it to my Kindle. After waiting a few days, I picked it up and began to read.

I will never doubt a bargain book again.

Damocles begins with a few given facts:

1. Humans can travel at the speed of light. 
2. Humans have discovered and translated a message from aliens stating that an intelligent race of beings traveled the galaxy spreading the beginnings of human life throughout. 
3. Humans have decided to travel to each set of coordinates included in this message and discover if other human-like life evolved successfully as it did on Earth

The book opens with Meg, the linguist who translated the original message, waking up on the Damocles, the ship that carried a select few scientists and experts across the universe to find these non-Earth-based humans. The ship has woken them up from their life support systems because they have arrived at one of the coordinates from the message, and there is life. The team immediately begins their work. It may be years before they can decide if they can make contact with the humanoids on the planet below depending on what their research tells them. Or they could have three days.

Due to a malfunction in the crystal that powers the whole ship, everyone is ordered to evacuate while the ship undergoes a full space freeze. All of their study and preparation that would have taken years, has to be condensed to hours. Meg knows that making contact before she is able to break down their language and culture could be deadly.

Meanwhile on the planet below, Loul, a researcher in the weather department, dreams of something bigger. He knows that there must be more than just life on his planet, but no one believes him...until the crew of the Damocles arrives.

From the moment of contact the story is told from both Meg and Loul's points of view as they struggle to create a language to communicate basic wants, needs, and the most important phrase, "We come in peace." From start to finish it is a conversation like you've never read before.

When I first started, as you know, I was a bit skeptical, and it took me a little time to get into it. Meg and the crew of the Damocles are just going through the motions, and down on the planet (which is called Didet) Loul is just a normal guy doing normal boring things. And that threw me at first. If this is a whole different race of humans on an entirely different planet then I want to see some differences. I want to see some crazy technology or food or something. When Loul gets a text message from his friend I said to myself, "Ok, one more text message and I'm done." What I didn't realize until Meg and Loul, "Earther" and "Dideto" meet, is that a text message to Loul really isn't a text message to Meg. And that's when I was hooked.

Redling does a wonderful job introducing the reader to the differences between the two species. From Loul's point of view Meg and her crew-mates seem bird like; tall and slender, delicate and flexible. So you begin to wonder, if regular humans seem like that to him and his kind, what do they look like to us? I won't tell you because discovering is kind of the point. 

I will tell you though that this book will make you question every word that comes out of your mouth. How would you explain Earth, water, oxygen, food, sleep, or anything to someone if they'd never seen it before? How would you tell them if you had no common language, no common culture, not even a common planet?! Meg knows how. And with Redling's expert pen to guide her, Meg builds a language, and the Earthers, Didetos, and readers learn together. 

What did it say about the unpredictability of the universe, Meg wondered, when sleep was an oddity but press conferences were universal?
It really makes you think about how strange our lives would seem to another intelligent life-form and how strange their lives would seem to us. Which is another aspect of the story the Redling explores very interestingly. When humans see something different or, hypothetically, alien, we destroy it. Not all of us would want it, but we all know that if an alien aircraft were to attempt to land on Earth the military would shoot it out of the atmosphere before it could even reach cruising altitude. The Didetos are not like this. At least, not all of them. I won't give any more away, but I will say that humans should take a page from the Dideto's book if and when alien life does decide to say hello.

So after reading Damocles I have to rethink my previous beliefs on bargain books. This is not a throw-away, and this is not a sci-fi book for super sci-fi fans, this is a book for humanity.

Have you read Damocles? What did you think?

Title: Damocles

Author:  S.G. Redling

Genre: Science Fiction

Recommendation: Yes

Best Reader Audience: Male and Female readers from YA level and up

Final Rating: Four out of Five mugs of hot chocolate
Want to have a conversation like none you've ever had before? Use the link below and your purchase will help support the Lone Book Club!

No comments:

Post a Comment