Author: William L.J. Galaini Release Date: 19th October, 2012 Series: None Genre: Science-Fiction Edition: Kindle (mobi) Pages: 4250 (kindle locations) Publisher: Self-Published Source: Publicist (Ally Bishop) Buy it here: Amazon
Suspended in the nothing between timelines, the station Janus is an unseen marvel: the greatest technological achievement in human innovation. From Janus, Gustavo and his hand-selected team of historians and engineers venture into the past and observe history, unseen and unnoticed.
But they are not alone.
Another traveler is shattering history. Unhindered by desires to remain scientific and uninvolved, the intruder’s technology is far advanced with methods more brutal and a present more terrifying than anything Gustavo and his team are prepared for. As they apply their intellects and skills towards solving the mystery of the ferocious interloper, they discover than they have its full attention.
Plot | Story
The plot is an interesting mix of time travel and alternate realities. In the not too distant future, mankind has developed the ability to travel through time. The catch however, is that travel can only take place through the timelines of “adjacent” realities, ones which shouldn’t differ all that much from our own. The team sent to investigate soon finds out however that they aren’t the only explorers in this timeline, and that the Xeno, as they call it seem more interested in righteous retribution than stealthy observation. Conflict soon arises as the team tries to evaluate what their response to the Xeno should be, and what consequences there could be for their own timeline.
At the half waypoint of the book, the plot shifts abruptly. A new character is introduced, and from there, the action increases and the pace accelerates until we reach the conclusion. Mixed in with this are secret missions, hidden orders and motivations and advanced technologies. There are questions asked about the inevitability of actions and whether or not, time really can be changed. I quite enjoyed the plot, it wasn’t predicable (I didn’t see the plot twist coming), and the sci fi was just detailed enough to keep the story going without going so far that the immersion could have been broken.
The story isn’t too heavy on characters. There are six members of the team on Janus Station, and one non-human main character. The characters are lightly sketched out, some more so than others, but we learn enough about them to understand their basic personalities and motivations. We spent a little time with most of the main characters, before switching to the POV of the main character for the second half of the book. The main protagonist Mary is a bit more fleshed out, which makes sense given that we spent most of the novel with her, but some decisions seem a little rushed. She’s a little quick to rush into some actions which are morally questionable, but it’s not wholly inconsistent with her character that she do so.
The best character by far however, is introduced halfway through the story. This is a non human character, attempting to make sense of the human world, and desperately seeking connections. You really do feel for this character, which is amazing considering what he is. He certainly provided a nice balance to the main protagonist forcing her to evaluate her actions while simultaneously reminding her of her own humanity.
All romance here is relegated to back story, or existed only as potential. One of the relations does play a small part in how the ending is resolved, but isn’t really relevant for the majority of the story.
For the first half of the book, the POV is that of the various Janus team members, as they try to figure out the mystery of the Xeno and what implications this has on their mission. After an unexpected plot twist, we switch to the POV of the main protagonist, as she attempts to deal with the fall out and implications of this plot twist. I quite liked the plot twist, although the implications of it seemed to be accepted by the characters a little too readily.
With regards to writing style, the technology of the Janus station and how the inhabitants time travel is described in just enough detail so that the reader can understand what is going on, without devolving into technobabble. The action scenes are also described well, particularly with how the outclassed Janus team members deal with the superior technology and abilities of the Xeno.
There are a few jarring moments in the book. The transition between scenes in the beginning does leave the reader rather confused as to what type of book they are in for, while some of the actions of the Xeno appears a little gratuitous based on knowledge gained later in the book. One of the characters (Ingrid) appears only to exist to make up the numbers, with very little of her personality revealed compared to the others.
There’s a distinct mood swing in the beginning as we go from a flashback to the main characters engagement (and ensuing coitus) to the investigation of a particularly bloody attack of a child solder camp in Africa. It’s a tad confusing to say the least, as this scene doesn’t really seem to relate much to the rest of the plot, and even in retrospect probably isn’t the best starting point. Luckily, after the first two scenes, we switch to Janus station itself where we start to learn more about the station, it’s capabilities and it’s current inhabitants.
All the plot points come together quite satisfyingly in the end. The conflict between the Janus team and the Xeno is finally resolved, with the remainder of ending talking about the implications on the timelines. The epilogue was satisfying, wrapping up some of the loose ends, and making sense of the opening scene (although not to the point that the story wouldn’t have been better off starting another way.
The blurb lets you know exactly what you’re getting into, without giving away too much, so it does it’s job.
I liked the cover art, it was a suitably sci-fi looking image of the main antagonist, in retrospect hinting at the plot, but without giving anything away.
Opening line: “Mary wasn’t certain what woke her up”.
Highlights: Interesting spin on standard sci-fi tropes. Fascinating non-human character. Plot twist was unexpected.
Lowlights: Somewhat confusing start. Inevitability of actions accepted just a little too readily.
A highly enjoyable read, well worth checking out if you’re looking for a slightly different spin on your typical time travelling or alternative universe tale.