A Review

I live in England and lead a local chapter of the Society of Authors. A few months ago, I offered a free copy of my book, Pelagia, to my fellow authors that if they would consider reviewing it – should they like it. Several took me up on it and have published reviews. I am grateful.

A recent one, done by a psychologist in the group, especially encouraged me because I felt she captured so much of what I intended as an author. I thought I would share it in this week’s blog:

“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 cataclysms in North America, 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!”

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