This is book 1 of ‘The Psionic Earth series and it looks to be a promising series. It is set on an alternative Earth where the cities and countries have different names to those we are used to. While there are many similarities, a few people are starting to develop a psionic power. They are able to manifest this power into a physical force in a number of ways. How that power is used varies from person to person and also seems to be a reflection of the training they have received.
This may be an alternative Earth, but there are still two opposed power blocs. In the blue corner, we have Orion and its allies and in the red corner is Calchis. It’s easy to draw similarities between the USA (Orion) and the USSR (Calchis) at the height of the cold war and, indeed, it might be that the cold war era provided the setting for this tale. Either way, it’s a very good setting as both power blocs are mobilised and looking for a military advantage. Both sides have latched onto people with psionic powers as a new potential weapon to give them an advantage over the opposition. One of the things I should have mentioned is that knowledge of people with psionic abilities is being kept from the general population. Both sides’ military organisations are screening their populations to detect those with psionic abilities who are then ‘encouraged’ in various ways to join the military. As might be expected, Calchis are a little more ruthless in this regard than Orion.
‘Fires Of Man’ starts with an initial focus on the Orion Psi Corps and, in particular, Captain Nyne Allen and his ex-girl-friend, Sergeant Kay Barrett. Their on-off relationship is a driving factor in some of the plot developments. Ranged against them is Commander Tiberian Barrett of the Calchan Psi Forces and John Black also known as ‘Agent’. Tiberian Barrett is an extremely powerful psi and also happens to be Kay Barrett’s brother. Agent is the most accomplished in using his psionic powers to assassinate people and is also extremely powerful.
Interspaced between the chapters dealing with the Orion Psi Corps and the Calchan is the story of an archaeological dig. Dr. Faith Santia is leading the expedition in a Calchan controlled territory. It has uncovered a huge temple complex built by an unknown civilisation. The dig proceeds alongside the other stories and offers tantalising hints at other mysteries. It is somewhat overshadowed by the Calchan build-up to a military offensive. The battle itself provides the pinnacle of this book with liberal use of psionic powers by both sides.
Being the first book in the series, the role of ‘Fires Of Man’ seems to be to introduce the main characters which it does very well. I thought the lovers’ angst was a little overdone but, then again, I’m not such a romantic. The build-up to the military confrontation illustrated the power and expertise of Tiberian Barrett and Agent leaving me with the impression that the Calchan have the upper hand. None of the Orion Psi Corps appear to have the strength of expertise of the Calchan which provides one of the hooks to make me read the next in the series. ‘Fires Of Man’ is well-paced with an interesting plot. It is a very good introduction to ‘The Psionic Earth’ series and I’m looking forward to the next volume.
(pub: Jolly Fish Press. 398 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £14.50 (UK), $16.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-93996-732-9. eBook: $ 9.99 (US))
check out website: www.jollyfishpress.com