Former special forces agent turned particle physicist Ben Holden is on the run. Those seeking him will stop at nothing to get their hands on his wife’s scientific research, which is believed to hold the key to unleashing chaos in the West and advancing their cause.
But in reality it’s Ben’s biometrics that have the potential to unlock the information they so desperately need. Within the oceanic world of Pelagia, in the year 2066, Ben finds sanctuary among the sea settlers of the South Pacific Pelagic Territory, but his respite is short-lived…
Do you ever start reading a book which looks intriguing, find it surprisingly hard work at first, and then get completely drawn in? That’s exactly what happened to me with Pelagia. I used to read a lot of science fiction and this book reminds me why, with its oceanic world which is so expansively and compellingly described. For me, the ocean region of Pelagia, the nomadic vessel Ossë and the family it carries are the real stars and points of difference of this book. This is a book which really feels like something different: fresh, beautifully written and immersive both in subject and engagement. It portrays good and evil very clearly, and the people within its covers are interesting and believable, with faith elements which are also interesting and believable. This is certainly not a cosy mystery. The thriller elements aren’t watered down. A genuine page-turner, it is well worth persevering with if you too find the beginning a bit hard going. I would love to read another novel set in Pelagia.
In the not too distant future, a recognisable yet different world awaits in this absorbing speculative thriller. An interesting and challenging speculative science fiction novel that begins in 2066. Covering a number of years and several time frames, Ben Holden is on the run after being targeted for his scientific research. It really does feel as though this world could be our future, enough is relatable and touchable to allow you to easily slip into what could be. Author Steve Holloway has a degree in Aquatic Biology and has worked around the world in marine science, it means that the scientific and oceanic world Ben finds himself in teems with possibilities and I particularly enjoyed these sections. The frequent moves in time and locations are clearly marked, which allowed me to flick between the different timelines in the plot with ease. Faith plays a part here, in terms of what is on offer in the future, and the main character’s transformation. I’m not in the slightest bit religious and found that this element, rather than overpowering proceedings, slotted into the story with ease. There is also enough action to keep the plot moving along at a good pace. Pelagia: Between the Stars and the Abyss makes for a refreshing and thought-provoking read.
A Science Fiction novel full of ideas. This novel is a Science Fiction adventure thriller used as a platform for a wide spread of the author’s ideas. All of these are worthy and interesting, but there’s a lot of them and the narrative occasionally stalls, mid-novel, when characters are used to explain ideas to the reader via speeches to each other when, perhaps, they could have been better explained through the narrative, or saved up for another novel. It’s almost as if the author thinks this book is his last-ever chance to communicate his vision to others. I will be mortified if this is literally true, but I suspect that it’s a misapprehension and in any case the best way to proceed is as if you’ve always got another book ahead of you. The pace picks up again and a lot happens before the end. The author’s primary idea is marine-farming and marine ranching, which leads him to describe a society which could not only make those complementary endeavours work, but also thrive as a culture and as part of the future world economy. That in turns leads to the ways in which that society might protect itself and what the threats to it might be. There are a lot of clever technological ideas inherent in all of this. The author also covers religious extremism in a way which sets neither Christianity nor Islam up as wholly bad, in that there’s no wrong way to believe in God: what’s wrong is for extremists to believe in their own power and ambition instead of believing in God. (The author doesn’t say so, but the logical extension of that is that completely atheist political activists might also believe in their own power and ambition more than they do in their ostensible political dogma. Sometimes, you don’t have to say something to get a message across and this novel could have been better if the author has been willing to let his readers discover a few more ideas for themselves.) Changing one’s beliefs, as some of the characters do, is not a betrayal if it’s a falsehood that’s being discarded -and this novel’s Turing test is that the machine intelligences cannot really comprehend the concept of God. (None of them act maliciously, though.) I recommend this with four stars because, despite all the shortcomings, there’s an awful lot of ideas here and that’s really what Science Fiction is meant to be about. To get five stars, the treasury of ideas probably needs to be presented in a different format to a single-narrative adventure novel. In the mid evening of her career the Science Fiction writer Ursula le Guin wrote a “future anthropology” entitled “Always Coming Home” which presented stories, both from a common narrative and from outside that narrative but in the same world and culture, together with descriptive articles, songs and even recipes. She was able to write something which immersed the reader in her ideas about a future society and culture (which included something very like a future evolution of the internet and Wikipedia, neither of which had happened at the time of writing) rather than having characters in an adventure give set speeches. (Which Greek or Roman readers might even have wanted.) I don’t expect Steve Holloway to do exactly the same thing, but I hope he can find a better way of putting his considerable number of ideas across.
“Imagine a world only a few decades from now in which we cluster in tightly knit family groups on the vast oceans, living off the life of the sea. What geopolitical forces would shape our lives? What new powers might emerging technologies enable, uplifting or disturbing? Pelagia is a view into such a future. For our friends, the protagonists, this technologically advanced culture offers powerful tools for the sustenance, preservation, and enrichment of life. Machines have become (artificially) intelligent partners, and as such enable, for example, an autistic child to contribute her gifts to the community, or the beginning of a communications bridge to another species: dolphins. But alas, tragedy and evil perpetrated by humans are not absent from this world. Welcome to Pelagia - mortal existence in and nourished by the great reaches of earth's final frontier - the oceans. From the depths of the abyss to the infinite expanse of the stars; from the depths of human depravity to the ecstasies of a fully conscious spiritual life, fulfilled in the presence of the Eternal; I found myself captivated by this glimpse at a plausible and hopeful future for civilization.”
"Members of the Pelagic Territory, a realistic yet futuristic network of communities who farm and ranch marine species in the South Pacific Ocean, give sanctuary to Ben, former special forces officer and now Dr. Holden. He is being pursued by agents of the New Caliphate; Ben and the Pelagic settlers are swept up in a clash of world-views and must bring the crisis to a resolution. A riveting novel. Pelagia is full of action, sci-fi, cool technology, marine science and a little bit of romance."
"An exciting adventure set in a near future where technological and scientific advancements have enabled whole communities to make the oceans their home. In amongst the action and moments that had me on the edge of my seat, this story explores important and sensitive concepts, from the impact of loss and trauma, and the many stages of healing; the power of community; and the influence of faith; to the way our hearts and our innermost motivations can shape our world. The characters that we meet along the way are often refreshingly genuine, natural, and believable. I found myself fully immersed in their world and thoroughly enjoyed this read, would love to have stayed there for longer!"
"Pelagia is a such an enjoyable read. You’re plunged into the story from the first paragraph and it’s a thrill ride from that point onward. The aptly named Pelagia covers a vast sweep from global trends of communities adapting to life on the open sea with the necessary scientific and engineering systems through geopolitical movements of control versus individual freedom down to the life of a broken man finding healing and spiritual rebirth amongst one of these ocean-going communities. The characters become real and one is left imagining where the characters’ lives go next after the book ends. The descriptions of the science behind the Tuna Shepherds’ everyday life, like the sea-crete, the amphibious vehicles, tuna guide-bots or Sophia’s Egg leads one into wondering how much of this we can or should be working on right now as our sea-levels are rising. Descriptions of the harmonious interaction between the sea and some characters, so poetic at times, leave you aching for that kind of peace and stillness. It’s a great book on so many levels."
“What a great read! Holloway has spun a very entertaining tale, weaving together the fidelity to science of The Martian, a futuristic life at sea reminiscent of Waterworld (the movie), and the masterful storytelling and worldview of a Ted Dekker. I can’t wait for the sequel, and the movie.”
"Steve Holloway’s Pelagia straddles science fiction (especially marine science), religion and politics in a highly readable story. In his sensitive handling of Islamic people and themes, the author shows a cultural competency with basic Arabic and a range of Muslim world view, beliefs and practices. In the story, Islam’s existential crisis divides into the bad and the good. Its rogue face is the dictatorial and decadent Caliphate that rules by fear and violence. Its spiritual face is Suliman, the leader of the Pelagic community who embodies an enlightened Islam that is oppressed by its puritanical counterpart. Both Suliman and Ben find redemption beyond the political confines of religion."
"As a science fiction enthusiast and an oceanographer it was a pleasure to read a book that combined both these interests of mine. The story moves along at a good pace and at each stage left me wanting to know what will happen next? The story is set in the near future and the scientific advances it relies on are reasonable projections of current research directions; for example, in robotics. These make the plot believable. Much of the action takes place in the Pacific in and around ocean community habitats developed by human beings, hence the title Pelagia. As a result Pelagia is an interesting and enjoyable book to read."
“Seldomly do I read fiction, but the first chapter of Pelagia was so intriguing that I was drawn into the story immediately and I could not put it down. Steve Holloway is obviously well versed in oceanography, science, and marine technology. Having once lived in the "developing world," he is knowledgeable of both Islam and Christianity and the interplay of the two great, worldwide religions. Additionally, and most importantly, Steve is a great story teller and he weaves a great thriller. Even if you usually browse nonfiction selections on Amazon or the shelves of your local bookstore, this book will grab your interest and possibly propel you to think about what the geopolitical and religious world could be in the next 30 years.”
“Steve Holloway’s Pelagia beautifully blends fast paced thrills, complex characters, and compelling near-future science to deliver a terrific read. As a marine Biologist and fisheries scientist, Holloway is able to paint a portrait of near-future life on the oceans that is both realistic and hopeful. Present-day themes of radical Islamic terrorism are developed and extended to draw the reader into a dangerous world where a revitalized Islamic caliphate threatens global catastrophe. Holloway’s many years living in the Islamic world are obvious in the narrative, and enable him to give rich detail to the characters, offering intriguing glimpses into the worldview and thought processes of those we in the West so often misunderstand and fear. I know of no other book that so well combines the themes of science fiction, politics and faith in a realistic, heart pumping thriller. I’m looking forward to the sequel.”
“All good sci-fi invites us to explore new worlds of possibility, and Pelagia is no exception. What sets Pelagia apart is that this exploration takes place both in the age-old quest of the soul, as well as the new possibilities of sea-habitation. The world in Pelagia is simultaneously realistic yet optimistic, grim yet hopeful. Told with a wonderful emphasis of the power of community, Pelagia is a world well worth the visit.”
“Steve Holloway has created a compelling futuristic drama fast in pace and full of twists. Adroit with scientific minutiae, he draws us into a fantastic world which employs startling technologies yet reveres the beauty of our blue planet. He explores complexities of political and religious differences without preachy dogma. His unique characters are refreshing. He allows them to be flawed, to experience growth, and to embrace their differing abilities as strengths not liabilities. I want to live in Pelagia.”
“Prescient in so may ways! Fast moving intrigue across international relations and cross-cultural issues so important in our time. Beyond cutting edge technological creativity depicting life at sea with a strategically new vision that makes you want to move right in. A great read. Where is the sequel?”
“After Professor Langdon of the Da Vinci Code, here comes Professor Holden. As a fan of both the Sci-Fi and the spiritual novel genres, Pelagia has now become one of my favourites. Steve Holloway’s transformation of Ishmaelite descendants of desert nomads from centuries ago into sea settlers and pioneers of the near future held my interest and admiration. So inspiring! As a Muslim, I could not resist the temptation to identify myself with Suliman Battuta, in terms of preserving both his physical identity and spiritual identity in Al-Masih. Some of his scenes touched my heart and made me shed some tears. His description of the New Caliphate accurately depicts the hostile face of Islam which is rejected and denied by most moderate Muslims as well. I believe this novel will resonate well with some Muslims.”
“A stunning mix of thriller, science fiction and exploration of religious belief. Marvel at nature, technology, and the activity of God in this tale of people interacting with one another, pursuing their dreams and seeking to create new communities. I was especially intrigued by how the author explores spirituality amidst different cultures: how does God work in the lives of those who seek to follow him? How does religious belief manifest itself in the midst of crises? What is justifiable in pursuit of one's goals? How do we react to those who think differently to us? Can someone have assurance that they are on the right path to heaven? In a religious community, in what order does someone come to believe, belong and behave?”
"Pelagia is a mix of futuristic military action, science-fiction adventure, innovative marine & mariculture technology and an engaging cast of characters. If you like reading Clive Cussler, Dan Brown, Robert Ludlum - and a little Jacques Cousteau thrown in - you'll enjoy reading Pelagia. It is a unique, original, fresh and a really interesting vision of the not-to-distant future of mariculture, human culture and the ongoing, constant battle between good and evil. It is the story of a protagonist you are always pulling for - who has experienced a series of catastrophic personal setbacks that rocked him to his core - salvation, second chances and those who helped lead him to redemption and healing. Each chapter leads into a new series of unanticipated events that culminate in a satisfying and realistic conclusion."
“In its fast-paced heart-pounding opening, Pelagia pulls me into a dark cramped space below the deck of a storm-tossed boat, as captive Ben Holden regains consciousness—restrained and nauseous. Author Steve Holloway’s writing is tangible and delicious, playful and sometimes painful. This multi-layered story focuses on the effect of relationships and community on personal and spiritual healing and growth. Throughout the story, conflict is laced with whimsy, humour and stunningly vivid descriptions of fish behaviour beneath the water’s surface. A great read that’s hard to put down, Holloway’s story presents a vision of the future where barriers are overcome through an emphasis on creativity, trust, and group effort. I’m already hoping for the chance to spend more time in the company of these characters. Sequel please!”
“Pelagia is an intriguing story with page-turning excitement, combining military action, drama on land and on the high seas, heartbreaking tragedy, addiction and healing. I was amazed by the science within the story; wonders of the ocean depths and its other-worldly creatures. I was mesmerized by the science-fiction within the story; fantastic futuristic machines and the things they can do. Pelagia even has love and romance. The characters are well developed; you feel you know them in a short amount of time, both the good guys and the bad. A great read!”
Wow! I love this novel. It’s an action-packed page turner starting on page one. Set in the year 2066, the hero of the story, Professor Ben Holden, regains consciousness in the bottom of a boat to find himself held hostage by unknown Arabic speaking captors somewhere in the South Pacific. His journey of escape leads him to discover a fascinating community of futuristic sea farmers, imaginative marine technology, geopolitical intrigue, romance, and personal transformation. By the time I got to the end, I couldn’t wait to buy a ticket to the world that exists in Steve Holloway’s head. Steve’s background in marine biology, science, community development, and religious dialogue make him an excellent adventure guide to an intriguing and realistically possible world of the future.
“I'm not a science fiction fan, and I'm not particularly a fan of marine life. I only opened the book because Steve is a friend and I was curious. However, Pelagia grabbed me from chapter one, and I immediately wondered who would make the film version! I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and along the way, I had an fascinating glimpse of a potential future in which aquaculture sustains populations -- and brings inevitable conflicts. I can't wait for the sequel!”
Steve Holloway’s Pelagia is a unique and fascinating novel. It’s not often I read a science fiction story that has me hoping the future depicted might actually come to pass, but I would love to be part of the oceanic civilization the author describes so vividly. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, with its combination of futuristic science in the realm of marine biology, thought-provoking philosophical themes, and fast-paced adventure. One of the author’s skills is the capacity to extrapolate from existing scientific knowledge – clearly well-researched and understood – to establish a world in 2066, where huge leaps forward have been achieved in humanity’s attempts to better protect and exist in harmony with the natural environment, specifically its oceanic waters. This is no dystopian Waterworld, but a sophisticated collaboration of peaceful sea communities living in architecturally intelligent settlements, who employ AI to help them farm fish commercially yet humanely. I am not a scientist, yet interested and informed enough to have read various accounts of current research and breakthroughs which might herald Pelagia’s more advanced civilization. Knowing that the foundations on which that world could be built are set in today’s reality helped my appreciation of the novel’s plausible set up. The stunning locations are painted in beautiful language. The novel’s characters are well drawn, and their back stories empathically filled in, from the youngest member of the sea community – an autistic savante called Sophia – to the complex antagonist, a scientist seeking Caliphate supremacy. In spite of their positive advances and admirable ethics, a familiar threat is visited upon the sea communities when they offer sanctuary to the novel’s protagonist. Driven in the name of religion, the stakes are high. Former soldier Ben Holden is being pursued by Islamic fundamentalists for his fingerprint key to information that could be used to trigger cataclysmic earthquakes along the US seaboard, destroying the progressive new way of life. I particularly appreciated the author’s sensitive handling of the religious themes in this novel. He bravely projects a deep division that exists in today’s world into his envisaged future, yet resists splitting along a good v. bad axis. Instead, he peoples both camps with authentic, well-rounded characters, conveying a spiritually mature understanding of the themes and experiences that can unite major world religions. His message is clear: it is power, not religion that corrupts. I would love to learn more about Pelagia’s marine farming communities and encourage others to read Holloway’s debut novel before he finishes his sequel. In fact, the novel’s locations and characters and were depicted so clearly, and its action was so page-turning that I could easily see the blockbuster Hollywood action movie being filmed!
A decorated marine, Ben returns from a brutal tour with his unit to face an unimaginable loss that crushes his spirit. He seeks refuge in alcohol, which draws him into a downward spiral. These troubles, however, are nothing compared to the merciless predators that now hunt him.
Abdul Qawwi, as a loyal and talented agent of the Caliph, has been instrumental in promoting the agenda of the New Caliphate throughout the world. A chance encounter at a geophysics conference inspires his breath-taking plan to neutralize the influence of nations that have challenged the global ambitions of the New Caliphate.
Paul's life, career and marriage were devastated by the tragic death of his twin sons. Recovery from ensuing substance abuse led him into a life of helping others recover from addiction and loss. The rehabilitation centre and its community, set in the arid Sonoran Desert, have shaped his new life and nurtured remarkable gifts.
Sheik Suliman and his clan, descendants of Yemeni Bedouin camel herders, have established a community within the Pelagic Territories. He and his family travel the South Pacific Gyre, herding schools of tuna for a living. Through this nomadic life they seek freedom from the persecution of the New Caliphate, who view them as apostates and traitors.
Nemo is a sophisticated algorithm serving the Battuta family as first mate, advisor, child counsellor, navigator, among other roles. His dispassionate objectivity and persistent pursuit of the Battuta family interests make him an invaluable member of the household – even well loved, if his circuits could encompass that emotion.
9-year-old Sophia is Suliman's daughter. She struggles with basic human interactions yet has a courageous depth of soul and that is unfathomable even to her family. Her keen intelligence and observational skills allow her to create extraordinary marine robots that are used to not only protect Ben from those who pursue him, but the family she loves so dearly.
22 year old Gideon is the son of Suliman and Sophia's elder brother. He is a gifted engineer who is refining the design of a revolutionary amphibious aircraft, the Kestrel. He is a skilful pilot who serves the Pelagic Territories in defence of their way of life. Ben's surprise arrival will put his design and skills to the ultimate test.
Bright, vivacious 33 year old Maria, Lorenzo's sister, revels in her life within Marcelli Seamount Township in the South Pacific Pelagic Territory. She serves her community through marine research of her beloved seamount and environment. She has achieved many of her ambitions and now seeks someone she can share her life with.
17 year old Lorenzo, Maria's brother, has a unique empathy and rapport with dolphins, enhanced by technology that facilitates communication between species. Teamed with his bottlenose friends, Lucca and Tazia, they serve the interest of both humans and dolphin alike as they defend the Pelagic territories.