Author: Dan Simmons
Roc / 369 pages / June 2001
Easing into the worlds of Resurrection may be a bit unsettling at first. There are flashbacks, flash-forwards, several flash-sideways, and, I think, a flash-diagonal. But persevere; once you find your way it’s well worth the momentary confusion. This tale of planets, civilisations, and alternate histories offers some theories you probably never considered. It’s a look into past, present, and future that seems strangely… probable.
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Pruitt is the only hope of her dying planet, but in order to find the answer that could save her people for extermination she must journey across time and the stars to find a revolutionary technology lost millennia ago. If she succeeds, her people, the Kinley, have a chance against their mortal enemies, the Lucien. If she fails, all is lost. That’s not much pressure for a lone warrior on an “alien” world, but Pruitt is not ready to contemplate defeat, not with victory almost in her grasp.
Of course, Pruitt is not the type to give up, even when the inconceivable happens along the journey. Dayton has created a heroine readers can believe in and care about — strong, intelligent, brave, but vulnerable and fallible, in other words: a human being. All of the characters in Resurrection appear in three dimensions. The author has taken the time to move her cast beyond mere silhouettes employed to occupy space and roles into genuinely interesting people.
Good guys. Bad guys. Everyone in the novel has a touch of both. “Good” people are willing to do bad things in order to triumph. Even the despicable villains have reasons for their dark desires.
Character development is not the only area of Resurrection where Dayton’s careful attention has paid off in this strong sophomore novel. There is romance, but just when the reader is starting to worry that aspect may overpower the rest of the narrative, Dayton pulls back to maintain the balance. Intrigue never overshadows action which holds its own against the science fiction and alternate history elements without forcing action out of the picture.
“Balance” is as apt a word to describe this novel as “resurrection.” Imbalance threatens the survival of the Kinleys, the Lucien, and the people of Earth. The missing technology is the weight that is going to tip the scales irretrievably in one camp’s favour. Balance is the directive behind the Kinleys’ interaction with the Earth people, then and now. A balance of information appears to be beyond hope. Without a balance of power, no one is coming out of this battle alive.
It’s an engaging story, intriguing speculation, and a lively style. Altogether, a very welcome surprise from a new author with the stuff to be around for quite awhile.