Sunday 28 May 2023

Descent Into the Hell of Venus - Manuel Alfonseca - Solar System Book 2

Descent Into the Hell of Venus
Solar System Book 2
Manuel Alfonseca
ISBN 9781541104891
eISBN 1230000261156

I made a mistake and read book three before reading this book. This one immediately jumped towards the top of my reading list. I have greatly enjoyed the three volumes in the Solar System. Each book is strong enough to read on its own. And together they show an interesting take on our future, and the purpose and morality of exploring and possibly terraforming other planets. I also found out from the author that another volume is loosely related to this trilogy, A face in Time: 1789-2089, which appears to take place between books 2 and 3, so of course I picked it up and added it to the reading list. And Alfonseca has indicated he is working on an official fourth volume in this series.  

I have read a number of books by Manuel Alfonseca, across several series and some also some standalone stories, I have also read some of them more than once. I have had this one for a few years now, but had not got around to reading it. This one jumped in my reading list while I was researching for the review of Under An Orange Sky. At the time I found I had already picked up the other two volumes in this series, the second from the same eBook retailor and book three from another. This series was brought back to my attention when working on a review of a different volume by Alfonseca. I am very thankful it did, for this book and series are excellent offerings from Alfonseca’s pen. The descriptions of this volume states:

“The first manned flight to Venus would make history. Everything was prepared in the ship "Enterprise", when surprisingly, and from higher instances, a member of the crew was changed a few days before the departure. What did the "Brotherhood of the Rose" have to do with all this? Was anyone plotting a sabotage? The fate of seven astronauts and one of the most important scientific missions of the time was in danger.”

But the danger is not just for those on the mission. There is danger at home. And not all things are as they appear. There is danger for a reporter trying to find the truth. There is danger for the crew of the first manned mission to Venus. And there is danger for any who oppose and defy a powerful mover and shaker who stays in the background and off the radar. Steve MacDunn from the first story is back in the thick of it and he is the commander of this mission. The mission is supposedly under threat from an organization that has terrorist intentions, the Fraternity of the Rose.

Once again as I started reading this volume I could hardly put it down, that seems to be the case with most of Alfonseca’s works. And much like while I was reading The History of the Earth-9 Colony and Under An Orange Sky I often thought of other books that have had a great influence on me over the years. The three volumes that came to mind are:

Solaris - Stanisław Lem
The Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis
Ishmael Trilogy – Daniel Quinn

And Steve in this work reminds me of Rico from Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. He is a strong character with a clear view of what is right and wrong. He is a leader and a man of virtue. And his strength may save not only the lives of his crew but many back home. To find out if and how you need to read this excellent story.

This was another amazing story from Alfonseca’s pen. This trilogy echo C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy. I was hooked from beginning to end. I could hardly put the book down. Manual’s writing in this story is excellent, even though I felt echoes of other stories the way he has handled the material and the themes and consequences he presents are very well written. I was very surprised by the twists at the end, I admit I was completely taken by surprise, and in part that is why I would love to see more stories in the series. This story is a little more action, and mystery and less philosophy and theory than the other two stories in the series. I loved this story and have been telling my son about the book and series and he has now added it to his reading pile.

Alfonseca does his own translation work in this and other stories. I have said before that there is a certain sense of the works of Jose Saramango and Gabriel García Márquez in Alfonseca’s writings.  

This is an excellent science fiction story from a master storyteller and I can easily recommend it. A great story in a wonderful series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Manuel Alfonseca in English:
Jacob's Ladder
The Ruby of the Ganges
The Last Dinosaur
Ennia in Faerie
The Heirloom of King Scorpion
Beyond the Black Hole
The Water of Life

The Sleuths of the Spanish Transition Series:
Quetzalcoatl's Zahir

The Mystery of the Haunted House
The Mystery of the Sapphire Bracelet
The Mystery of the Honeymoon
The Mystery of the Egyptian Vulture Country House

Chronicles of the Magic Jigsaw Puzzle Series:
The Journey of Tivo the Dauntless
The Mystery of the Black Lake
The Silver Swan
The Secret of the Ice Field
The Lost Continent

The Chronicles of the Aeolian Family Series:

Human Cultures & Evolution
World Population: Past, Present, & Future
The Fifth Level of Evolution

No comments: