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Adam’s Stepsons

Adam's Stepsons3 Stars

Adam’s Stepsons by M. Thomas Apple is an interesting science fiction piece. We follow Dr. Heimann who designs the perfect super soldiers for the United America’s in their war against the Martian colonies. Heimann quickly discovers that he did not anticipate the brutal efficiency of the military, nor the attachment that arises from his creations. These clones are not only the peak of what the human form can do, they actually transcend humanity through intelligence and strength. They are the weapon that the United Americas will use to crush the rebellion on Mars. Dr. Heimann is shocked when one clone, Six, begins to call him “Father” and then the can of worms truly opens.

Apple’s novel is almost painfully short, only because I wanted to have more to read and dive into. He anticipates the future of inter-solar system colonization and the struggles that can arise, such as this between the United Americas and the Martian colonies. He does not neglect the complicated matter here or the scope considering the Terran governing force is losing the war and needs these clones to pan out.

The struggle between scientist and soldier is an old one, but one that takes on a new twist with the rise of cloned super soldiers. Apple goes along the lines of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, but does not seek to critique war itself. Instead, the author goes further and asks whether these soldiers are “truly” human or are they  just “equipment” as the military officer Marquez calls them.

The conflict deepens even further when “Seth”, clone number six, as Dr. Heimann calls him when no one else is around, begins to call him “father”. The book bounces between the POV’s of the scientist and Six, which is interesting because as the book goes on Heimann becomes more and more unstable and uncertain of his mission of designing soldiers, who resemble the people that their genetic material comes from. Six, or rather, “Seth” becomes increasingly more confident in his abilities and his intelligence. All of this leads to a climax that may polarize readers, but one that will still make the reader ponder on far after they have finished the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed Apple’s prose. It reads crisp like that of Asimov or Heinlein, but I am still unsure if the short length of the work was appropriate. There is a lot of dialogue and not enough actual “action” going on throughout, so I was expecting more digging into the rich themes of personhood and philosophy of the soul. I realize that may be asking too much.

Adam’s Stepsons is a fun addition to the long canon of science fiction that dares to ask the “what if” of the future. It also seeks to ask the “should we, if we can” question that not enough science fiction is retrospective enough to ask. A good read for any science fiction lover, especially of the Heinlein or Asimov variety.

Pages: 92 | ASIN: B06XJRT8CS

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The Second Sphere

The Second Sphere (Three Spheres Trilogy, Book 1)4 StarsWhat if you could live forever? Alternatively, would living forever truly make you happy? These are questions asked and answered in Peter S. Banks’ The Second Sphere. The first in a trilogy we find ourselves in a world where living for four hundred years is simple and human bodies are reduced to synthetic versions of what we have today. In our story we meet Orion; a man who has lived far longer than perhaps is acceptable for humankind. He’s got family but he hasn’t actually touched them in quite some time. He’s like a washed up business man or detective whiling away the years of his life at a job he doesn’t seem to care for. While he spends his free time caught up with illicit drugs and companions Orion is about to find out what it’s like when that seemingly peaceful life is ripped apart and thrust to hell.

No matter the genre, people are looking for ways to identify with it and make it more real. The fact that Banks tells his story in the first person allows readers to feel more connected to the protagonist. The technology in The Second Sphere is obviously advanced from our present lives but the time between now and then and the sort of technology written about isn’t too unrealistic. Just enough is explained and just enough is left for readers to accept as being normal.

Due to a spike in the population, since no one dies anymore, humanity has branched out to colonize both the moon and Mars. It is while attempting to live on the moon that Orion finds himself wrapped up in a battle against the terrorist organization known as the Green Revolution. There are bombs and there are conspiracies. As an agent working for the Laslow Corporation it’s Orion’s job to connect with his informants and find out exactly what is going on. The story picks up from here as the readers are left trying to unravel all the mysteries with Orion. When it comes down to it, however, will Orion be able to make one of the most agonizing choices humanity faces? Will he be able to partake of the plot to sacrifice the many to save the few? If that wasn’t bad enough, the plot twist that comes screaming through after Orion makes his choice is bound to leave some bitterness in the reader’s mouths.

As a first installment in a trilogy The Second Sphere is quite able to stand on it’s own. While the ending does leave readers asking questions, it would still be able to function alone with a retrospective demand on readers at the end. Peter S. Banks definitely delivers on exciting action and an uncannily accurate description of what life would be like if we were able to live forever. There must be an end for there to be a new beginning. If the human race never ends, how can anything new begin?

Pages: 248 | ASIN: B01DM9VH5W

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