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…
A decorated marine, Ben returns from a brutal tour with his unit to face an unimaginable loss that is the final blow to his spirit. He seeks refuge in alcohol, which draws him into a downward spiral. These troubles, however, are nothing compared to the merciless operatives that now hunt him. Darkness and despair close in around Ben and he must make a choice: will he fight for his life?
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 on the seastead vessel Ossë, along with other families in their clan, as they herd schools of southern bluefin tuna for a living. Through this nomadic life on the open seas, they seek freedom from the persecution of the New Caliphate, who view them as apostates and traitors. Despite the danger to their Pelagic community, they extend to Ben sanctuary and protection from those who pursue him.
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 both his skills and 𝘒𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘭 to the ultimate test.
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. He becomes an unexpected to Ben when he most needs it.
Muslim dreams have not died for a Caliphate resurrected from the ashes of history. Abdul Qawwi, is a loyal and talented agent of the Caliph and 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 ambitions of the New Caliphate. Ben Holden holds the key to the success of this scheme and so he pursues him relentlessly.
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 extraordinary gifts. These remarkable talents toss Ben a lifeline of hope.
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. Through a chance encounter in the Sonoran Desert she meets Ben and wonders if he might be the one.
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 interests of both humans and dolphin alike as they defend the Pelagic territories. Dedicated to their work, they become a key factor in the struggle over Ben’s fate.
“Imagine a world only a few decades from now, where tightly knit communities are pioneering and settling the vast oceans. What geopolitical forces would shape their lives? What enabling and disturbing technologies might be developed? I found myself captivated by Pelagia's glimpse of a plausible and hopeful future for our civilization.”
"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."
"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."
“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.”
“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!”
"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. This is a book which really feels like something different: fresh, beautifully written and immersive both in subject and engagement. A genuine page-turner."
In the not too distant future, a recognisable yet different world awaits in this absorbing speculative thriller. 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.
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!
"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!"
A Science Fiction novel full of ideas. I recommend this with four stars because, despite some shortcomings, there’s an awful lot of ideas here and that’s really what Science Fiction is meant to be about.
“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?”
"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."
“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!”