“It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars” – Richard Evans
Prolific science fiction author Gary Caplan’s novel ‘Talcon Star City’ is the sequel to the 2009 release ‘The Phoenix Rising’. Painting the same vast expanse of space and its futuristic civilizations as revealed in the previous book, the new book too narrates the tale of such space faring people. A massive and powerful amalgamation of numerous civilizations, Alliance of Worlds is under constant threat of war and hostility from enemy civilizations who are hell bent on taking over this alliance. And their only hope is in the hands of a stalwart leader in Commodore Robert Sheppard who must not only rely upon his every intuition and skill but also seek help from a couple of new allies to fight the combined evil forces of Varlon and Accads. But he must do so before it’s too late for mankind.
While the space race led to nations competing with each other to send rockets and spaceships, what it also did was to introduce the power of science and create a spark of imagination amongst thousands of young minds, intriguing them about space and the role of man in them. This soon led to a parallel genre in fiction which later came to be known as space opera. And continuing from that initial spark which ignited our imagination, these novels inspired us to think outside of our little planet and become aware of the vastness of space and the potential that it contains. It has also given writers an opportunity to explore the theme of inequality that continue to exist among the different classes of people and the politics of colonizing space which hasn’t brought people closer as initially expected.
The Alliance of Worlds operate under an uneasy truce, with heavy prejudices on all sides and with multiple alien cultures in a race against time and each other to occupy it. And it is huge cast of characters within the vast expanse of space and time that we get to meet here, with a host of returning characters and a few new ones. And no decision of any character goes in vain as we get to see the ramification of their each decision in scenes that come later. It is perhaps the bane of this genre that makes its authors think that their books need to have its share of didactic moments and Talcon Star City is no different in that regard but unlike a lot of other books, Gary through his characters and his tone ensure that such moments are softened by the overall pace of the story. And after a slow start, the book develops and gradually builds up with bigger and better action. The engaging action, great dialogues and well developed characters with Robert Sheppard at the centre of it all rounds off the novel quite nicely.
Talcon Star City is a surprisingly quick read even with its sometimes wordy passages. This is mostly due to both the content and the voice narrating the story. Gary Caplan as a writer tends to use his prose and words alternately to paint a vast picture of the universe and also to get to the point faster than other novels in this genre. By placing political, social, and cultural theorems within a readable science fiction atmosphere, Gary has come up with a novel that is highly engaging to say the least. Sometimes deep with subtle symbolisms, it explores the basic human drive to explore the unknown and the dangers that lurk in them. And as it has always been for mankind, the greatest danger it faces is a mix of external threats and internal ideological struggles.
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 31, 2012)