Tuesday 19 March 2024

The Matrioshka Divide - Isaac Young

The Matrioshka Divide
Trantor Publishing

I picked up this volume several months before reading it. Another Catholic author I really enjoy recommended it and I grabbed the book but it slowly slid won my ‘to be read’ pile. Then on X another author linked to a story called Gigaheroes by Young, I spent a few hours reading it on Substack, and going back and reading it again, and immediately bumped this book to the top of my reading list. I can state as a debut novel it is excellent. It is a space opera or military science fiction story. It hit on all the right notes. While reading I felt Gigaheroes had the feel of George R.R. Martin’s WildCards series that I read many years ago, and this story has more of a feel of Starship Troopers mashed up with Frank Herbert’s The Eye's of Heisenberg or the more recent Orphanage books by Robert Buttner. The description of the story states:

“A signal has been detected on the outer edge of the galaxy, possibly from a colony ship thought lost nearly three thousand years ago. The Free Exchange, the dominant power of the known universe, puts together an unexpected crew to go find it. Only time will tell if this impossible beacon will change the course of human history forever.”

This is a fascinating read. The mix of military, corporate, political and scientific theories is well crafted and masterfully executed. We have a military leader looking to redeem past decisions, we have and idealist sure she can make humanity better, seeking to trigger transhumanism. We have a political agent certain he is helping to keep humans from destruction. And a Transhuman alliances who may or may not be descendent from humans who left the galaxy over 3000 years ago. The military and the scientist start on the mission with a single focus and mission, but a few know from the onset that things are not as they appear. Each is striving to bring about the outcome they desire. Each is willing to make sacrifices and each ultimately believes their plan is the best. 

Captain Samir Singh is looking to redeem his past, to see if he can wash some of the blood from his hands. He is looking for a sort of redemption. Erika Terese is second in command, but her past is a fabrication and Singh has doubts. Miles Kieth is the best pilot in the known universe, but his military history is also a fabrication. Glen Tannis is a puppet master working mostly behind the scenes for Exchange guiding and controlling the different protectorates. And sort of off to the side and yet playing a key roles is the chaplain, Father Soren is an intriguing character.

The characters are well written and fleshed out. For a first novel the characters are great. The plot is excellent, the pace is perfect, and the story really sticks with you. I finished it a few days ago and I cannot help but keep thinking about it. It keeps coming to mind. 

I would love to see more stories set in this universe, maybe in the past where we see Captain Samir Singh and how he got the title of ‘The Butcher of Three Systems’. Or after these events and what happens next. There are so many ways other stories in this universe could go. Heck I would just love another story with Father Soren.

For a debut novel I have seldom come across one as complete and well written. This is an excellent story. In part it reads like the classic science fiction I cut my teeth on 40 years ago. And in others it reads like a story written just for today. I am certain it would be a hit with fans of Starship Troopers (the book) or Babylon 5. It is great for those who love a great science fiction story. It is an excellent volume and one I can easily recommend!  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan

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