ECHOES OF EARTH (THE ORPHANS TRILOGY, BOOK 1)

Sean Williams and Shane Dix

Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 436 pages / (April 1, 2014)

ASIN: B00J90EISC

A new shipment of one of Australia’s hottest imports just arrived, but you, you lucky things, don’t have to wait at the docks or search out a trendy Oz boutique; you can pop right into your local bookstore to pick up a copy of Echoes of Earth. That’s right, the duo of authors that brought you the bestselling Evergence Trilogy are back with another far-space adventure to make your head spin.

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The good people at Ace forgot to add this warning, so let me insert it here: For your own safety, strap yourself in with every seat belt at your disposal. You’re headed on a trip through space and time that could easily leave you far behind if you aren’t ready.

Peter Alander is a long way from home — well, the part of him that didn’t remain at home on Earth, that is. He and the rest of his crewmates are engrams, computer recreations of their corporeal selves, minus the corporeal part, of course. Copies of Alander and others went out long ago to explore the universe.

Now, they have found something that Earth must know about right away. The question is: should Earth really hear about this discovery? And come to think of it, did the crew find something or didn’t it actually find them?

As always, the science in Dix and Williams’ work shines, entrancing with its glitter and innovation. There is enough hard science here to keep the most demanding reader entertained from beginning to end. The faster-than-light ship alone is sufficient fodder to provide a plot device for lesser authors, but anyone who has read their fiction before knows that mere machinery is not nearly enough for this duo; you won’t find any of their novels without fully-fleshed out characters, complex plots, vivid settings, and thoughtful exploration of issues.

The most striking aspect of Echoes of Earth is hinted at in the title. How breathtaking to find that the “humans” Alander encounters on his home planet a century after his departure are in a very real way more alien to him than the beings he encounters completely across the universe. Williams and Dix have succeeded not only at that most difficult task of making aliens genuinely alien, but have accomplished this with our own species. Readers will recognise little of themselves and those around them in these “evolved” beings.

Peter Alander — poor, flawed human, or as close to it as he will ever come again — is our pilot on this breakneck dash through the unimaginable distances and unfathomable motivations inherent in the journey. As he races faster than light, he may be bringing humanity the greatest gift of all time — but sometimes the shiniest presents come with the highest price tags.

Hold your breath and hold on tight. This is going to be a ride such as you’ve never seen before.