‘Kepler’s Son’ is book 3 of the ‘Flying Crooked’ series but can be read independently as the author supplies a handy summary of the previous books, ‘Suppose We’ and ‘Falling Up’. However, it would be better to read them first. Much better, really.
Kepler’s son is Adah, born on Kepler 20h of a human mother and father but also with alien DNA because of some kep interaction during conception. Adah is a sort of sexy superman who can make his tongue longer, grow extra appendages, breathe through his skin, emit warmth or cold and has the power to make his imaginary friends real. In character, he reminded me somewhat of Heinlein’s Valentine Michael Smith from ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’, naive and powerful but growing wiser and adapting to his environment as the story develops. His father tells him, ‘I love you, Adah but you are more Kepler’s son than mine.’ Hence the title.
The keps are a highly advanced alien race inhabiting several planets in the Kepler 20 system. They can phase through solid objects, while their buildings and other artefacts employ a strange physics where down and up are uncertain and gravity does not restrict.
They’re so far above us that they completely ignored humans on first contact. Adah’s mother is Em Farrer and his father Gaston Poirier, only surviving members of the ship Suppose We which went to the Kepler system in search of planets for humans to colonise or infest, depending on what you think of humans. Author Geoff Nelder is generally positive about us and the tone of his books is decidedly cheerful. Em and Gaston are both highly intelligent, trained scientists inclined to non-violence, not the lunkheads of space opera shooting fests. Gaston tends to break out in French exclamations when excited, which is realistic, I think.
There are many other races involved in this drama. The keeps, a blend of human and kep DNA, are individually simple life forms but have a hive mind. The Recs are a powerful AI species who sent ships to the Kepler system, kidnapped Em Farrer and cloned her. Early in the book, Gaston and Em find the trogs, who live underground on Kepler 20h but are not wild things. Not completely, anyway.
They may be in league with the purists, a kep group who want to wipe out humans and extinguish all human DNA, despite the fact that it probably saved their planet from an ecological disaster. My favourite character is CAN, the AI that began as the shipboard computer on Suppose We but has since developed huge capacity and a sense of humour or at least ironic detachment.
The keps have mastered a ‘pinch effect’ that can move large masses from one place to another in the blink of an eye. This sudden scene shifting combined with the characters’ relaxed attitude to sex and joy in the wonder of science reminded me of Heinlein’s ‘The Number Of The Beast’ but without, I hasten to add, his politics. Poor old Robert is much vilified nowadays in some quarters but his books were entertaining and readable.
‘Kepler’s Son’ has a neat plot with several twists, some weird science, wild adventure, a tiny smidgen of fun sex and a generally uplifting tone. For a while, it will transport you far away from planet Earth to a better place on a trip that’s definitely worth the price of the ticket.
(pub: LL-Publications, 2022. 235 page paperback. Price: $ 9.99 (US), £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-99755-495-3)
eBook: Price: $ 2.99 (US), £ 2.53 (UK)
check out website: www.ll-publications.com