Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Heaven's War Will Grab You and Not Let Go

Heaven's War 
David S. Goyer & Michael Cassutt
ACE July 2012

Review by Ann Wilkes

I called Heaven's Shadow a thrill ride. Heaven's War keeps that ride going from the first page to the last. In this second book in their Heaven trilogy, authors Goyer and Cassutt take an interesting cross-section of humanity and put them in an alien environment as castaways. The struggle to survive inside the Near Earth Object that has been dubbed Keanu (Really? Still don't like the Matrix reference. Probably because I'm not a big Keanu Reeves fan.) is only the beginning of the conflict that the shipwrecked crews and the abducted humans face.

In Heaven's Shadow, astronauts from a Russian/Indian/Brazilian Coalition and NASA are sent to investigate the NEO. They soon discover that the NEO is an alien spacecraft. Not only that, it can recreate people from the Brahma and Destiny crews' pasts to communicate with them. At the end of the last book, two big white blobs or "vesicles" sent by Keanu scoop up about 100 people from Bangalore and another 80 from Houston. One of the pod people hatched by the NEO is the Destiny Commander Zack Stewart's dead wife - who he must watch die again. Feel free to read or reread my review of the first book, Heaven's Shadow, herein.

While some of the Bangalore folks acquaint themselves with the alien technology in "The Temple", replicating food and vessels to serve it in, a small group led by Zack Stewart search for a way out of the human habitat into an adjacent one in hopes of increasing resources and finding the control center of the ship.

Camilla seemed equally surprised (at seeing the lipstick duplicated). Hesitantly, she reached out for the "new" lipstick. 
"It's warm," she said. She handed it to Valya.

"Shouldn't you keep the new one?"

"My mother told me I couldn't wear lipstick until I was twelve."

Valya wanted to laugh. This girl had died and been reborn on another planet! She had just taken part in some type of alien techno-magic! Yet she remembered some argument with her mother! For an instant, Valya wished she could become mother to a daughter — just to know that one of her parental strictures would sustain itself across time and space, and through death!

On the heels of finding one of the refugees murdered, Zack's 14-year-old daughter Rachel and Pav, the 16-year-old Brahma commander's son, go missing. You know that the new normal is really whacked out when former astronaut and close friend Harley Drake sends a murderer out to find Rachel. The interplay of the characters with each other is nearly as riveting as their struggle with the aliens and the alien environment. Each of the main characters stands out in chapters in their own point of view. I have seen this done better, but still the technique was effective, allowing the reader to see not just the outward reactions, but the inner thoughts that we dare not utter. How would you react in a situation in which almost nothing is familiar? That's what I liked best about the book, though the plot and descriptions were top-notch. I love seeing how humans react when pushed to the limit and when put into foreign situations where they have little or no control. 

The humans have not been the first to be scooped up and brought to Keanu, where a war wages among the residents for control of the ship. Both Zack's group and Rachel's meet creatures along the way that may or may not share their goals.

My only complaint about this book, and its the same as with its predecessor, is the poor editing. It wasn't just the stray typo. Some sentences just came out plain wrong and indecipherable. And there were more than a few places where it was hard to tell who was speaking because of the inefficient placement or lack of proper dialog cues. Both authors are primarily screenplay writers, with an impressive list of credits. In fact, they simultaneously wrote the screenplay, which perhaps accounts for some of these anomalies popping up.

I can't wait to read the final installment and see Heaven's Shadow, the movie! It's still in development, but is slated for a 2013 release. You can check back with IMDB for more details as they are made available. I also invite you to read my July 2011 interview with the authors

1 comment:

Ed (sloweddi) said...

Reading the description of this book reminded me of the Harlan Ellison book PHOENIX WITHOUT ASHES, which became the TV show The Starlost. I would have liked to see someone redevelop this into a better show now that Canadian Sci-Fi production has gotten better these last few years