Thursday 29 June 2023

Operation Viginti - Manuel Alfonseca - Solar System Book 4

Operation Viginti
Solar System Book 4
Manuel Alfonseca
ISBN 9798395699695

This was an excellent read, and great story in this series. I understand that the series is completed but I cannot but hope for other stories set in this world. Each of the four novels is strong enough to stand on its own./ But this story teies the tree together and brings a long term conclusion to a number of issues going back to the first story Under An Orange Sky. But together they give us 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, but have not got to it yet. 

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 picked this one up as soon as it was released and moved it to the top of my ‘to be read’ pile. 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 skilful pen. The descriptions of this volume states:

“At the end of Operación Quatuor, Terexa Viginti has discovered the mystery surrounding her life. From now on she must prepare to become the successor of the famous Quatuor as president of the Institute of the Brethren of the Holy Cross. She then discovers that Mars holds another secret that very few know about. Suddenly, Terexa Viginti becomes the successor of Irene Pinedo, the protagonist of the first book in the series. But the Government wants to seize Terexa to use her for their own purposes. Will Terexa be able to escape from the Government's wiles?”

The sections and chapters in this work are:

First part: Operation Viginti  
     A conversation with Quatuor 
     The colonization of Mars 
     Attack and defense 
     Dismantling the shelter 
Second part: Operation Two Terexas  
     Second transference 
     Terexa & Terexa 
     Identical, but different 
     Rome does not pay traitors 
     The ultimate test 
Third part: Operation Save the Martians  
     Planetary plans 
     Towards Callisto 
     Seventy-two hours 
     Suicide mission 
     Alone in the face of danger 
     Save the Martians

As mentioned this story ties together elements from the other three volumes in the series. They are:

In this story there are some major shifts in the government’s policies and practices, in part because of the work of the Brethren and the Sect. One as an influence for good and the other for evil and chaos. It was absolutely fascinating to read how Alfonseca handled having two AI’s but one based on a Catholic morality and one Humanist\Atheist and how they processed the same information and events. The concept of intelligent AI and how it would and could be used by government, both on secret missions and for nefarious purposes, and how some people can embrace and other reject self-aware AI consciousness is executed perfectly.   

But the biggest risk comes on a mission. A mission with a very surprising purpose and allies. The writing in this story is excellent. The pace is great. The characters are well crafter. And the plot is amazing. 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

I would love to see more stories set in this universe. But, the only thing I really hope for is that at some point we will get a volume with more information on the children of Irene Pinedo and Steve MacDunn from the first two volumes, and fill in some of the time gap between books 2 and three.

This was another amazing story from Alfonseca’s pen. This quadrillogy for me provides an echo of C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy; or his quartet if you include the partial story The Dark Tower. 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 again 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

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