by J. R. Desylva

"Without notice, although expected, the man came alive from a dead immobility, fighting against his restraints, snarling like an animal reminiscent of the Wolf Man."

A large military-industrial corporation, the Consortium Corporation, has deep roots in space exploration and development of space resources that soon make them de facto rulers of the planet Boa. Their attempt to set up a base and explore a far off planet called Tartan, where the entire previous population has been destroyed, sets off a chain reaction that includes murder by nanobots and then, soon after, the arrival of belligerent alien ships intent on invading and subjugating Boa. A time traveler from the future arrives just when this species, the Arbitrators, attempts its first attack on Boa. He anonymously downloads descriptions of antimatter and wormhole technology to the web and waits for the present-day scientists to download and use it. There is a balance of power in the universe, and it is not long until the methane-breathing Vermillion appear in the night sky on a planet located in Boa's vicinity. The Vermillion affirm the use of antimatter, and the Consortium gains in power from this knowledge.

This imaginative work is heavily plot-driven, with a great deal of suspense and intrigue moving the action along. Much science and technology are discussed as is typical with military sci-fi, but here the author explores the social disruption such advanced and alien tech might have on the world's economy. There are many such thoughtful digressions with thinly concealed references to Earth issues and problems like lobbying, corruption, and influence peddling that the writer reflects on. There are a large number of characters, with the time traveler, some military commanders, and various scientists receiving the most development. The theme addresses power and competition vs. scientific and artistic altruism played out on an interplanetary scale. Some imaginative reinterpretation of the popular tropes of UFOs as the biblical angels, gods, and creators are also present, making for a thought-provoking read.

Return to USR Home