Thursday 18 May 2023

Operation Quatuor - Manuel Alfonseca - Solar System Book 3

Operation Quatuor
Solar System Book 3
Manuel Alfonseca
ISBN 9798735946045

I made a mistake when I started this book. I thought it was book 2 in the Solar System series and by the time I realized I was a third done the book and just pressed on. Having missed book 2, Descent into the Hell of Venus, the good news is this volume is more than strong enough to stand on its own. The bad news is I cannot see how it connects to book 1. And I now need to bump that volume way up on my reading list. I also found out 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. 

I have read many books by Manuel Alfonseca, across a number of series and some standalone stories, I have also read several 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 one grabbed my attention again while writing a review of another volume by Alfonseca. I am very thankful it did, for this is another book and the two in the series so far are excellent offerings from Alfonseca’s pen. One of the descriptions of this volume states:

“Terexa Viginti, a fifteen-year-old South American girl, finds herself in the middle of a mysterious intrigue, where some want to kill her, others claim to save her, and others wish to use her as a decoy. Who are the Brethren? Why is the Sect persecuting her? What wants the government to use Terexa for? Why everybody knows much more abot her than herself? The solution seems to be on Mars, where the mysterious Quatuor appears to be the only person capable of solving the enigma.”

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

Also the whole time I was reading this I could not help but picture author ML Clark as the main character and even hear the story in her voice, again with this story. I had reached out to Clark to mention that while reading book 1 in the series. This volume ends with a clear lead to further stories. I reached out to the author wondering if maybe he had a story planned for each planet, or even some of the moons. It was with great disappointment that I found out the series is finished for now. 

This was another fascinating story from Alfonseca’s pen. It really does 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 brought to mind some more recent Catholic Science Fiction I have read such as:

Our Lady of the Artilects - Andrew Gillsmith
Heaven’s Hunter - Marie C. Keiser
Discovery – Karina Fabia (Really any of the Rescue Sisters Stories.)

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

This is another excellent science fiction story from a master storyteller and I can easily recommend it.

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

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