The Vanguard Chronicles
by Lawrence Menard
Trafford Publishing

"This was a brave new world to explore, and we were young men and women ready to take up the challenge."

In The Vanguard Chronicles, 150,000 settlers have been sent to an apparently habitable alien planet where their struggle to survive is the last hope for the survival of a nearly extinct human race in the distant future. On the surface of New Earth, the colony quickly thrives. Universities, medical facilities, and infrastructure are constructed to form Bridgetown, where each settler performs with maximum efficiency the role for which they have been designed by hundreds of years of genetic engineering. Success in their strange new home soon inspires the colonists to throw off what remains of the old world: The Council, a secretive body of unelected governors that has always led the colony without challenge, is overturned in a popular revolt led by Kyle Chandler, a charismatic outsider who seems destined to lead his followers to great things. But when their commitment to openness and peace has unintended results, and reveals unforeseen threats, the colonists face the possibility that they may not be the only ones fighting to survive on New Earth.

The Vanguard Chronicles is a sci-fi epic densely packed with convincing detail. But where the story might have benefited from a compelling central plot, the author often gets sidetracked with extensive and far less compelling descriptions of futuristic technology or colony politics, threatening occasionally to founder the larger endeavor. Attempts to provide the book with a heartbeat—in a subplot about the narrator's romance with a primitive savage, or occasional updates on the progress of Kyle Chandler’s growing family—are drowned out by heavy machinery. But the book eventually succeeds by providing a fascinating twist to the space-opera genre: the colonists, searching for a home after the end of our world, encounter a sword-wielding, sheep-herding race of farmers that seems pre-historical, creating a collision of the beginning and the end that is compelling to read.

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